Romance Books

Perfect ending... what’s that? : Review of Judy Balan’s ‘I Have a Theory About That’


If it’s light-hearted and predictable, that’s how it’s meant to be

Early in Judy Balan’s sixth novel, the narrator acknowledges that the idea of assigning a year to find “real love” is quite a psychological challenge. But the two protagonists are 29 years old, and the way these things are, that calls for drastic decisions. Age may be just a number, but the social conditioning accompanying it is real, and this is what roommates, friends and polar opposites, Meg and Tania, explore in I Have a Theory About That.

One a compulsive planner, the other a hopeless romantic, Meg and Tania juggle their messy professional and personal lives driven by their extreme personality quirks. The women are also incredibly privileged — for instance, Tania’s chief financial headache is that she does not have enough money to buy an iPad. In witty, conversational prose, Balan narrates the protagonists’ daily dramas at work, dating life and more, switching between the two points of view through the 40-odd chapters.

Readers familiar with the author’s previous work will notice recurring themes in the advertising professional-turned-psychological astrologer’s novels, like the fascination with Grey’s Anatomy and the strong opinion on Indian names (Ryan makes a comeback, Venkatesh does not make the cut).

I Have a Theory About That is, in a way, a celebration of female relationship, whether the one between the two women or their complicated bonds with their mothers. Tania, Meg and their mothers are secure, independent women. They are strong yet flawed, products of their circumstances, each determined to make sure that their loved one does not repeat the ‘mistakes’ they made.

Meg’s mother is worried that her daughter’s decision to date an artist will end in heartbreak, as hers did. Tania’s mother, meanwhile, knows that finding your soulmate does not guarantee lifelong happiness. In short, a perfect ending... what’s that?

If this sounds like something straight out of a rom-com, it is because that is how it is meant to be — light-hearted, funny and predictable. If anything, I would like to see a little less of the jarring NRI vibes and the long-drawn astrology references in the author’s next outing.

I Have a Theory About That; Judy Balan, Hachette India, ₹399

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 9:36:28 AM |

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