'Fade Into Red' by Reshma K Barshikar
About the Book:
Ayra always wanted to be an Art Historian. She saw herself flitting between galleries, talking Michelangelo and Dali with glamorous ease. At twenty–nine, life has decided to make her an underpaid investment banker juggling an eccentric family, a fading career and a long–distance relationship that is becoming a light-year one. On a monsoon day in June, she is suddenly sent packing from Mumbai to Tuscany to buy a vineyard for a star client. What should have been a four day trip turns into a two week treasure hunt that finds her in the middle of midnight wine deals, dodgy vintners, rolling Tuscan hills, a soap opera family and one playboy millionaire who is looking to taste more than just the wine. Towards the end she finds that the road to true happiness is almost as elusive as that perfect glass of Chianti.
The cover art of the book is awesome. It is beautiful. The Van Gogh kind of painting of Tuscan vineyards is eye catching and attention grabbing. Priced at 399 rupees, this Random House Publication of about 360 pages is a light themed, humorous, chick-lit novel by Reshma K. Barshikar.
The storyline is same as mentioned in the blurb. It is more of experience and humor than twists and turns. I liked the author’s comic narration- the wry humor, the laugh-out-loud dialogues, the ironic descriptions, and the funny analogies and comparisons. I liked it all. She has used scenes from very well known novels and movies wittily for comparison that every reader can identify with, to introduce the comic effect. Amelia, Harry met Sally, Notting Hill (for comparing Hugh Grant with Ishaan Malhotra), Sound of Music, Wuthering Heights (for referring to Ishaan as Heathcliff- ‘Heathcliff hath spoken.’) and A Walk in the Clouds are some of those.
I thought almost all the characters, except Ishaan, were like straight out of some hilarious movie. Ayra herself was likable. From being horribly insecure and confused, she did quite well as a free independent, investment banker. Uber cool Karthik managing a band was the perfect bachelor. I liked every member of Ayra’s big south Indian family, especially Mangama who moved in and out of the rooms like the elf in the Harry Potter movies. Though one of the lead I didn’t like Ishaan- the quintessential bay boy millionaire. Celio was unique- the proud vintner whom Ishaan had hired to find the perfect vintage vineyard glory. Friend Narina, boss Sandeep, and the cat Nila were good side characters.
The part in South India where Ayra’s family makes elaborate preparations and rituals for meeting her future in laws over dinner was interesting. The sights, smells of a south Indian kitchen, the view of the herb garden, traditional house and sarees of the women were described well. I also enjoyed reading the searching of perfect vineyard in and around Tuscany, and the harvest episode. The process that the grapes go through before we get wine was so interesting- the pros and cons of every method used. Though a bit difficult to understand I appreciated the wine dynamics, site seeing details, the reports, politics and procedures involved in the wine business. I learnt quite a few Italian words too. Though I’m not very satisfied with the ending, this book has left me longing to visit vineyards in person; take part in the harvesting, traditional wine making and tasting process feeling the best velvety texture of the wine; dine in ‘The Bald Rabbit’; and witness the alchemy or magic that the traditional makers believe wine making is.
Inspite of all the positive aspects, I’d say the book is too long, and tends to drag at places. Travel and adventure lovers would like this one, as will chick-lit fans. I’d rate it 3/5 stars.
About the Author:
After finishing her A Levels at Bridgine School, Windsor, and getting a BA (Hons) at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, Reshma started her career as a Journalist for India’s national newspaper The Hindu, Business Line but left mid-career to pursue an MBA at the Indian School of Business that led to a successful career in Investment Banking. After 5 years in Investment Banking she quit her job to travel for two years and visited Europe, China, and the US. She conceptualized the novel during her travels through the Tuscany wine country. She created the eccentric Ms Krishnamurthy, her precocious cat and her dog eat deal environment. Her deep appreciation for the south Indian family dynamic, experience as a freelance journalist and a passion for Italian wine helped create Fade Into Red. Simultaneously she also honed her skills as a Travel Writer and has contributed to India Today Travel Plus, Silver Kris, Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia, National Geographic Traveller and The Hindu Business Line. She is also co-founder of the literary blog, The Caterpillar Café.