Renu, the mesmerizing narrator in Ratika Kapur’s The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma, has a gift for self-deception. It is baffling, then funny, and then quite poignant to witness ... The story it tells is taut, focused; its wider setting, the new India, pops with life. But the real star of this show is Renu, the Mrs. Sharma of the book’s title. She starts in one dimension, then gradually plumps into three.
...a short, simple novel, the first-person narrative of several months in the life of a woman in Delhi. There are just a few characters and settings, a straightforward plot and a wonderfully funny narrative voice. It is an easy pleasure to read ... The feel of contemporary Indian life, caught between tradition and modernity, is brilliantly captured in the details of Mrs. Sharma’s predicament ... I will be devouring all past and future work from this clever, wise writer.
The book shuttles between Mrs. Sharma’s secret persona and her family role. Kapur writes in the first person, so the narrative is messy and surprising, guiding the reader’s curiosity to the denouement ... Her tone is candid, yet cautious; part diary, part confession. But for a story so dependent on facts, chronology and pacing, this subjectivity is frustrating, not suspenseful ... This novel is Mrs. Sharma’s chance to reflect on what she has actually done. Her words reveal a dignity more private and complex than society can perceive. The book is worthwhile, and quick to read — perfect for your train ride to work.