The Gallery – Book Review

Book: The Gallery

Author: Manju Kapur

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

“The Gallery” by Manju Kapur is a book that explores the journey of four women, two mothers and their daughters, as they navigate life’s challenges. While Minal and Elora belong to the upper class of society, Maitreyi and Tashi represent the working class. The book is a woman-centric fiction that conveys powerful messages about life and society. It reiterates that despite apparent differences, women from all backgrounds share similar core issues.

The book portrays the lives of the four female protagonists, bringing out their unique perspectives on life. The storyline defies stereotypes and social expectations by depicting how all four carve their path in a world plagued by gender imbalance.

The story revolves around Minal, a rebel who does what she wants despite facing various pressures. As a young girl, she made bold choices, putting aside traditions and lived by them. The desire to do something with her life makes her embark on a journey towards financial and emotional independence. Eventually, she decides to walk out of a marriage that provides her with all possible comforts but lacks depth and sincerity. She realises she does not want to lead a hollow life and takes a courageous step towards finding happiness and fulfilment.

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Minal’s daughter, Ellora, also emerges as someone with a mind of her own. Born with a silver spoon, Ellora leads a happy-go-lucky life until her parent’s relationship complicates it. Her conflict is depicted in how she accepts and understands her mother’s state of mind and is willing to stand by her choices.

Then there is Tashi, the help’s daughter, who is shown to perceive the world through the eyes of the underprivileged. Although her parents and Minal have attempted to diminish the gap in numerous ways, she realises the disparity between herself and Ellora as she matures. She acknowledges this and decides to break free from her shadow and live on her terms. Despite facing opposition, she has the courage to pursue her aspirations.

Then there is Maitreyi, Tashi’s mother, constantly battling her beliefs and reality. Uprooted from her native land at a young age, she accepts the challenges of a new life, believing in her husband and his choices. She is happy with the way he wants her to lead her life. But when he practically deserts his family, she also starts considering her future differently.

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The characters of the men are also relatable. They are products of our society and so have stereotypical views and beliefs. A few, like Pallabh, seem different, but he still has to face the test of time.

The story is straightforward yet has multiple layers that the author has skillfully explored with great depth and care. The author has exhibited great sensitivity in depicting the challenges and struggles the protagonists face without any hint of judgment or questioning. The conflicts and hardships portrayed in the story feel authentic and relatable, accurately reflecting the experiences of most women.

The writing style is simple and relatable. And if you have lived in Delhi, you can relate to the places and people.

It’s an easy and absorbing read with a focus on gender imbalance in society and relationship complexities. However, you will be able to relate to it only if women and their challenges interest you.

I give the book a rating of 4.5/5.

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