When you read as much as I do, there are going to be books that are less pleasing than others. I went through a dry spell last year where I read 3 or 4 books in row that made me feel completely indifferent. I don’t like everything I read. Unfortunately, my latest read falls into this category.
This week I finally finished reading The Windfall by Diksha Basu. I really wanted to like this book. I was so excited about it that I started it immediately after finishing Where the Crawdads Sing in early April. But it uncharacteristically took me over a month to finish. Unfortunately, I wasn’t into it at all.
Initially, I thought it was going to be a quick read. While it’s not a long book (only about 304 pages), I was constantly bored with it. I’d put it down and have no desire to pick it back up. I had such high hopes for this book, but ended up extremely disappointed.
People Magazine hailed it as “What Kevin Kwan did for rich people problems, Diksha Basu does for trying-to-be-rich-people problems.” Kevin Kwan (author of Crazy Rich Asians) himself is quoted as saying he almost fell out of bed laughing. I’m a HUGE fan of the Crazy Rich Asians series and have been looking for something similar in humor. Of course I was excited when I found The Windfall, especially when I realized it had Kevin Kwan’s stamp of approval!
Here’s the synopsis from the back of the book:
“A heartfelt comedy of manners, Diksha Basu’s debut novel unfolds the story of a family discovering what it means to “make it” in modern India.
For the past thirty years, Mr. and Mrs. Jha’s lives have been defined by cramped spaces, cut corners, gossipy neighbors, and the small dramas of stolen yoga pants and stale marriages. They thought they’d settled comfortably into their golden years, pleased with their son’s acceptance into an American business school. But then Mr. Jha comes into an enormous and unexpected sum of money, and moves his wife from their housing complex in East Delhi to the super-rich side of town, where he becomes eager to fit in as a man of status: skinny ties, hired guards, shoe-polishing machines, and all.
The move sets off a chain of events that rock their neighbors, their marriage, and their son, who is struggling to keep a lid on his romantic dilemmas and slipping grades, and brings unintended consequences, ultimately forcing the Jha family to reckon with what really matters. Hilarious and wise, The Windfall illuminates with warmth and charm the precariousness of social status, the fragility of pride, and, above all, the human drive to build and share a home. Even the rich, it turns out, need to belong somewhere.” (Basu, Diksha. The Windfall, 2017)
For over half of the book, the Jhas are preparing to move into their new, much bigger house, grappling with jealous neighbors and the unknown that comes with suddenly being wealthy. Once they move into the new house, Mr. Jha and his new neighbor, Mr. Chopra are in a CONSTANT battle of one-upping each other, which drove me nuts. I was not a fan of the incessant bragging and trying to “win” at who was richer. Both Mr. Jha and Mr. Chopra had no depth. Their development was strictly based on their wealth and they acted like petulant children. I couldn’t understand why the rest of the characters weren’t mad at them all the time. It didn’t make sense to me. I don’t think it works as a satire. It was too much.
However, the female characters were strong and well thought out. Maybe that’s the point the author is trying to make, but I think it ultimately fell short. It wasn’t enough to save the plot. By the last page, Mr. Jha still hasn’t learned from his mistakes, nor has he apologized to his family for his horrid behavior. It ends with them accepting their new lot in life and that’s that. The end.
Because of my lackluster reaction to The Windfall, I decided to try a wine I received in one of my Bright Cellars boxes that I wasn’t sure I was going to like, The Raincheck Wine – Dry White. Unlike the novel, I didn’t anticipate liking it. However, it was actually quite pleasant and refreshing. While the label boasts it has citrus and stone fruit notes, I tasted more of a subtle tropical fruit flavor. To me, it tasted more like lychee, mango, and kiwi. I didn’t find it dry, but rather subtly sweet. Ironically, Bright Cellars suggests pairing this wine with Indian dishes. Instead, I paired it with an Indian novel!
In conclusion, maybe take a raincheck on the book, but not the wine!
Have you read a book recently that you didn’t like?
If you’re interested in checking out Bright Cellars, use my referral link to get a $50 credit on your first order!
*I was not compensated for my review. All thoughts and images are my own.*