Saturday, May 24, 2014

Book Review: Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern

Book Cover
Years ago, Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan uttered these famous words in the movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: "Pyar Dosti Hain" ("Love is friendship.") I didn't like Kuch Kuch Hota Hain much, but I remember this line. Love, Rosie is about this line. It's about childhood friends Alex and Rosie who are destined to be with each other but are kept apart by ordeals placed by faith.

I'm not a big fan of romances. However, this book really touched me. I really cried when Rosie got pregnant and couldn't join Alex in college. I understood the conflict between her love for her daughter Katie and the desire to be her own person. Her boring job, the shoddy accommodations she shares with her daughter, her failed marriage to a compulsive cheater, her lost dreams- it all made sense to me. If the book had been written in a conventional manner (instead the author chose to write it as a series of letters), perhaps there would have been more drama. But as it is, the format that seems boring in the beginning became a joy by the end. 

Alex's life as a successful doctor with two sons from two failed marriages is painful to read about. On one hand, he appears to have everything. On the other, he is empty on the inside, caught in failed marriages with women he doesn't love, a father-in-law who controls his careers and an emptiness due to Rosie's absence. I liked Alex. he's the kind of person I would like to be friends with. But at the same time I think he should have been a little braver in some parts. 

On the other hand, Rosie is a brave woman. She's been tormented by fate more than most of us but she tides over her life and never loses sight of her dream. Due to her fascination for hotels, she initially wants to study hotel management in Boston where she could also be close to Alex. Her plans are thwarted by her pregnancy. After a string of miserable jobs (including one in a Paper Clip company), she finds a position at a grand hotel. This position doesn't last long, but Rosie gather the courage to be get a diploma in hotel managment, folowing which she gets a job in a hotel with an ugly manager and even uglier rooms. Finally, when she's already crossed 40 years of age, Rosie starts her own business. I cheered for her all along. Had I been in her place, i would never have had the patience to hold on to my dream and fulfil it when I'm older. of course, she does this with the help of Alex and their friendship was believable to the very end. perhaps love isn't all about heat. Perhaps it's about warmth, like in this book.

The supporting characters are a riot, especially Rosie's best friend and obese salsa-lover Ruby and her former teacher and later boss Miss Big Nose Smelly breath Casey. Her parents and sister are supportive of her through her ordeals and her brother's aloofness is somewhat understandable. I kept getting glimpses of the lives of Rosie's family members and the book wouldn't have been the same without that. There's very little mention of Alex's parents and very small descriptions of his wives (most of it is in the subtext), which is why Alex didn't seem as well-rounded a character as Rosie.

However, my favorite character is Rosie's daughter Katie. Vivacious, honest and bright, she has her own friendship-love to boast of and has the quirk and sass to rival Rosie's. She's obviosuly her mother's daughter and a book about her would be so nice. Her correspondence with Alex's wives are especially funny.

A movie version is slated to come out this year, but the trailer give me the impression that it will be modified to suit younger actors.
Is that Rosie with Roby and Katie?

Rosie with Katie