Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Book Review


Title: Love on the Rocks
Author: Ismita Tandon Dhanker
ISBN: 0143414682
ISBN-13: 9780143414681, 978-0143414681
Binding: Paperback
Publishing Date: 2011
Publisher: Penguin
Number of Pages: 224
Language: English


Sailors are known to tell “Tall Stories”. The author Ismita Tandon Dhanker is not a sailor. But she sure knows how to spin a yarn and her debut novel LOVE ON THE ROCKS bears testimony to her skill as an imaginative storyteller.

As I said Ismita Tandon Dhanker is not a seafarer. But she is the better half of a merchant navy officer. She has sailed with her husband on merchant ships, keenly observed the goings-on and has put her sea experience (and “sea time”) to good use while writing this novel where all the action takes place on the high seas. Maybe she was fascinated by life at sea so much that she has chosen to set her debut novel LOVE ON THE ROCKS on board a ship sailing in the pacific ocean.

This book is branded as a “Metro Read” and it lives up to its imprint. It is best to read this book in one sitting, start to finish, and it is quite easy to do so, for once you start reading, the gripping suspense will keep you engrossed till the very end – in fact, I found the novel quite “unputdownable”.

Ismita writes well and knows how to hold attention of the reader. What I liked most was the way the novel is constructed as a symphony of different voices. LOVE ON THE ROCKS is composed in multiple narrative voices reminiscent of the storytelling style in the multi-narrator novel My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk and in a similar manner, the novel’s main characters intermittently weave in their own stories, adding to the intrigue and culminating in the climax, and like a good “whodunit” the suspense lasts till the very end, in fact till the very last page.

The novel is described as a “romantic thriller” but to be frank there is less of romance and more of thrill. If you are expecting a mushy love story or amorous sensual romance you are in for a big surprise. The author relies more on gory violence rather than on passionate romance to inject the element of thrill. Whereas gruesome violent scenes are described in graphic detail, the author is coy when describing love scenes (or avoids them altogether)  and maintains quite a cut-and-dried writing style while describing romantic relationships. I wish the author had delved more deeply into the mysterious inchoate infatuation between Harsh and Sancha and injected intense ardour and intimacy into the tumultuous marital relationship between Aaron and Sancha – a bit of emotion, passion and romance would surely have spiced up the story.

The characterisation is quite outlandish, to say the least. The Master is a perverted debauch, the Chief Engineer is a hopeless alcoholic, the Chief Officer is a strange volatile character, a screwball battling demons of his past but desperately trying to come to terms with himself, the First Engineer is portrayed as a weird maverick, and the cadet is a rather queer and quirky creature. An uninitiated reader may get an impression that seafarers on merchant ships are eccentric oddballs, which is certainly far from the truth. The only “normal” characters are the two “landlubbers” – Sancha, the nosey parker protagonist, and Raghav, the investigator. But then, one must grant the first-time novelist some literary licence though one dreads to imagine what will happen on a ship crewed by such wacky types. Of course, crazy things do take place in the story.

Since LOVE ON THE ROCKS  is a murder mystery I will not spoil your fun by telling you the story – for that you must read the book. Also, I must not forget to mention the rather appealing impish illustrations which are in tune with the atmosphere of the story.

LOVE ON THE ROCKS is a welcome change from the ubiquitous run-of-the-mill campus romances proliferating like hobgoblins on the Indian literary scene and the debutante author deserves credit for daring to chart new territory. I commend this “murder mystery thriller”. It is an ideal pick-me-up for enlivening a boring journey or a lazy hot afternoon – the story, with its twists and turns, will keep you spellbound till the very end. Get a copy. You will enjoy reading the book. You can take my word for it.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Did you like this book review?
I am sure you will like the 27 short stories from my recently published anthology of Short Fiction COCKTAIL
To order your COCKTAIL please click any of the links below:
If you prefer reading ebooks on Kindle or your ebook reader, please order Cocktail E-book by clicking the links below:

Foodie Book:  Appetite for a Stroll
If your are a Foodie you will like my book of Food Adventures APPETITE FOR A STROLL. Do order a copy from FLIPKART:

About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
Professional Profile Vikram Karve:
Vikram Karve Facebook Page:
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog:

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

No comments: