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Girl in White Cotton by Avni Doshi pdf download


Girl in White Cotton by Avni Doshi

Click here to download the pdf 

Girl in White Cotton by Avni Doshi pdf download

Details of Girl in White Cotton (Burnt Sugar) by Avni Doshi Book

  • Book Name: Girl in White Cotton (Burnt Sugar)
  • Authors: Avni Doshi
  • Pages: 103
  • Genre: Novel
  • Publish Date: Aug 25, 2019
  • Language: English

Book review:

There is an old saying “that never judge a book by its cover.” Why not? Among all the ways you can judge a book, the cover is a significant factor. With patterns and symbols, the cover lures the readers towards a book. You can judge a book by its cover and you can judge it by the smell of its pages. 

The old Penguin yellow paperbacks have this unique smell that makes me nostalgic, it reminds of those childhood days spent in the school library. The cover of the book or the smell of its pages are a good enough reason to buy books. However, let me tell you a literary secret: The best way to judge a book is through its first sentence. 

The first sentence is like a seed and the book is like a Tree that grows out of the seed. The first few words can lay bare the heart of a book. 

But, very few authors are able to craft that perfect first sentence. For example, we have Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, the typical Victorian novel about the struggles of marriage and finding a husband. And, it begins with this iconic line:

'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife'. Tolstoy’s epic novel, Anna Karenina is about the disintegration of families and begins with the following sentence. 

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Avni Doshi has entered the list of these great luminaries. She has crafted the perfect first sentence for her novel. 

Her novel is about a conflicted relationship between a mother and daughter, a relationship built on indifference, neglect, and a strange kind of unbreakable bondage. And, the novel begins with the following words: I would be lying if I said my mother’s has never given me pleasure. 

This diabolic beginning sets the tone for the intense novel that deals with memories of loss and pain and the volcanic emotions that lie secretly buried in the hearts of its protagonist. In the Ashram, some people wept like overwrought children when they saw Baba while others sobbed silently. 

And then there were those who pulled their clothes off in the meditation hall and, bare-breasted, lay on the ground, arms and legs spread, eyes rolling back, cackling. 

The moralities, ethics and the dogmas of the world were being challenged in the Ashram. However, in an attempt to challenge society, even the most basic responsibilities of parenting were neglected. 

To be a child in such an environment was another kind of hell. And, Antara grew up neglected and abandoned. Growing up in a cult, left alone by her mother, surrounded by hippies in white clothes persisting at the edge of the society, the only desire Antara had to be considered as “normal”. 

She did not want to be a part of this lunatic gang of Ashramities. While Tara could not be contained by the norms of the society and Antara wants to be accepted into those very norms. Every decision in her life from marriage to pregnancy is taken, ‘by this desire to be considered as normal.’ 

In a way, Antara is also a rebel, but she has turned her rebellion inwards. Her rebellion is restricted to the realm of thought, confined to the four walls of her mind, it never translates into action. 

She is the kind of woman who packs her bags, abandons her family and runs away from her house only to return in the evening to serve dinner to her husband. Antara’s volcanic emotions juxtaposed with perfectly reasonable actions give the novel its edginess. 

However there are issues with the novel. Antara is an artist. She has this one particular project where she repeatedly sketches the face from one photograph. Each sketch is based on a previous sketch so that the original photograph is soon forgotten. 

It is about how one original picture can give birth to multiple versions that are so different from each other. Antara’s curator titles her show as “the diary of an artist.” 

The show is unsuccessful and Antara blames the title: A diary. What does that even mean? A diary sounds so trifling, so ridiculously childlike. Who wants to spend money on a diary, really? I never even saw the work as a diary. 

And, yet I believe that diary is an appropriate metaphor to describe the novel. Like a diary, the novel has many dangling paragraphs, they might be good in themselves but they have no further narrative consequence. 

In one paragraph, Antara mentions her first encounter with a 16 year old boy. And as readers we expect a more elaborate description of the incident, its impact on her psyche, and it influence on her adolescent life. 

But, the event is like a small note—almost like a forgotten diary entry--and it is never again mentioned in the novel. Similarly, there are incessant references to her mother’s disease, doctors and medication. 

These sections have many technical medical terms, and many popular reviews have complained about the vocabulary. 

However, for me, the problem is not as much with the technical terms as it is in the ambiguous role they play in the novel. Many great novels such as Moby Dick uses technical vocabulary to create an atmosphere, a kind of setting for the novel. 

Even Real Life, another book shortlisted for Booker Prize, uses way more technical terms than Burnt Sugar. However, Real Life is set in a Biochemistry graduate lab and it wants the reader to inhabit the world of a science graduate student 

so the technical details create an atmosphere for the novel, a kind of ambience inhabited by all its characters. However, in Avni Doshi’s novel, the medical details are too scattered to actually set a tone for the novel. 

They are like interludes that come and go without creating any impact on the narrative. Similarly, there are to the protagonist’s homosexual desire and incest. Both these references appear for one single sentence and one’s left confused about their purpose in the story. 

Do they reflect on the deeper pattern of desires of our character? And if so, why are they not developed throughout the narrative? And, if they are unimportant to the narrative, why are they even mentioned? 

Again, they seem like diary entries, records of the flickering thoughts in the mind of the character, Apart from confusing the reader, they have no significant impact on the novel. 

Despite its flaws, Avni Doshi has crafted a fast paced debut novel about a fraught relationship between a mother and her daughter. 

For exploring some of the darker sides of parenting and for writing that impeccable first sentence, I will give this book a three out of 5 stars. 


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