Six Word Summary: People have problems. People solve problems
I rate it : 7/10
Of all the books I’ve been sent for review this year, The Weight Loss Club has the most promising cover. Notice how sweet and cute everybody looks, how spunky, how fun and interesting! This must be a book about awesome people, my book radar told me as I turned over to read the blurb.
Thankfully, my hopes were not crushed. While not awesome, The Weight Loss Club is delightful, heartwarming, and a perfect companion to cheer you up on the evening of a sucky day. It is comfort food for the weary soul.
The residents of Nancy Housing Cooperative, are middle class, ordinary people, who seem to be leading happy lives until you peek under the cracks. Monalisa is a devoted mother and housewife, but her growing obsession with the academic success of her young sons is more dangerous than anybody can foresee. Meera is an obedient daughter-in-law law, but post partum depression is eating away at her sanity. Apu is a botanist pursuing her PhD, but she is made to feel inadequate at every turn because of her weight problem and her inability to get married. Ananda is a philosopher whom nobody takes seriously, but he doesn’t know how to deal with his feelings of loneliness. And Treeza, a lovely, funny, intelligent woman, has been embraced by a life-sucking depression since her miscarriage. At closer look, Nancy Housing Cooperative seems to be more of a mental asylum than a building complex, but I suspect all of us are at least a little ill mentally. We just never let anybody find out.
Anyhow, into this humming beehive of depression, loneliness, and fanaticism, all covered by smiling facades, enters Sandhya, a sadhvi with a penchant for seeing inside people and helping them help themselves. With a pinch of divine powers and a whole lot of common sense, Sandhya shows the residents of Nancy Housing how to fix their lives by letting go, by loving a little more, by finding friendship in unlikely places, and by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
The thing is, we know by experience that problems in life are never that easy to solve, especially when they are so ingrained in your being, so in retrospect I’m tempted to roll my eyes at The Weight Loss Club for being so simplistic. But I wont, because it is often a relief to read a simple book, and just feel happy for the people inside, and maybe a little hopeful that some magical wise person could come and fix my life maybe, and help me lose weight while she does it.
Special thanks to the writer for creating the characters of Apu, with her spunk, humour, and Bridget Jones like diary entries, and Ananda, with his complete lack of self-consciousness and awkwardness. I loved those two from the start and was rooting for them to get together even when it wasn’t a faint possibility in the story.
I would recommend The Weight Loss Club to anybody who lives, or has lived in Kolkata. There are a lot of in-jokes and references that only Kolk folks would enjoy, such as the description of the very scary school-gate moms. It is light, entertaining, and as I said before- delightful.
Thank you Devapriya for sending me a copy, and thanks also to Abhishek-da for recommending the book first. As ever, he proves that he has excellent tastes in reading.
-Amritorupa ” Need a miracle. Now” Kanjilal