There aren’t many Indian authors who indulge in writing erotica. Especially for female authors, the odds are even scantier. But Rosalyn D’Mello not only wrote erotica, but she also wrote it in an Indian landscape. Well, it’s not like it’s a sin to write erotica in India. It’s just that, culturally, we are somewhat reserved with our romantic and sexual lives.
A Handbook For My Lover (Review)
And even while reading books, we love to see our protagonists walking the conventional path carved by society. But Rosalyn chose to break all those barriers once and for all. She wrote an erotica set in an Indian landscape, and just when you thought that was a lot of risks altogether, she decides to guise her book as an instructive manual being narrated by a woman for her older lover. Although Rosalyn is a widely published art writer, “A Handbook For My Lover” happens to be her first book. And with her first book, she chose to make it bold and feisty. Both the lovers in the book are unnamed, and I feel that adds a certain mysterious charm to the characters. It is weird how not naming them makes them seem closer to reality.
It feels like you know these two characters from somewhere. Maybe, you’ve read about them, or you follow them somewhere. They just seem so real. The narrator is a young writer who writes about her unconventional love affair with her older lover, who is a renowned photographer. What starts as a one-time thing continues into a prolonged affair between the two. The narrator keeps addressing her lover in the book. It’s a memoir for him, to remind him of everything he did to her and for her. She tells him about all those moments of love and joy along with the bitter ones too. It’s a recollection of their experience together, like a bird’s eye view to their relationship.
Right from the beginning of the book, it becomes pretty clear that the relationship between the two wasn’t very balanced. The narrator was very much in love, and although it felt like her lover was in love too, but he seemed detached to some extent. Since we are only getting to know their story from the perspective of the narrator, it’s difficult to understand her lover any better. We get to know only as much as the narrator wants us to know him. We are in fact getting acquainted with him via her perspective of her lover. And, therefore, it’s rather impossible to form any opinions.
The deeper the story gets, the focus shifts to the intricate details of their relationship. Did he love her? Or was he just in love with her physical beauty? But right in the very beginning, the narrator says that he never quite admitted that she was indeed beautiful. So, what was it that kept him close to her even though he seemed so detached? There were moments when the narrator writes about her lover’s vulnerable moments. And in those moments, it felt like there was something rather deep about their relationship. But once that moment faded into normalcy, he would go back to his stoic and unmoved state. To some extent, their relationship bent towards the toxic side. Another challenge for the two was to keep their relationship private and hidden from people. Since he was a renowned photographer, it was important for him to hide his affair, which left our narrator quite hurt and miserable. She wanted to have him in all his glory. She wanted him to acknowledge their relationship in front of everyone. But unfortunately, he never did that. He was never quite ready to take her as his lover in front of the entire world."The story is real and raw. It's unedited and unapologetic. The narrator is bold and fierce." Click To Tweet
The toxicity of their relationship reflected in moments when the narrator was gaslighted and manipulated by her lover. And she endured all of that because she was irrevocably in love with him. The book shows their unequal and unbalanced love affair beautifully. The language is mesmerizing. It’s rare to find a book that is written as smooth and flowy as silk. Each and every sentence is embroidered on this fabric of a book. This book is nothing short of a piece of art, all because of its gorgeous writing style. The story is real and raw. It’s unedited and unapologetic. The narrator is bold and fierce. It’s rare to find a protagonist like our narrator, an Indian woman who is completely comfortable in her skin, is open about her desires and demands, loves unflinchingly, and, most importantly – she is a woman of substance writing her story to shatter stereotypes.