I received Crème Brulee by Ramona Sen as a review copy from Rupa Publications and am thankful to Rizwan Khan of Rupa publications for the same.
A quintessential Bengali anglophile, Aabir Mookerjee, is back from Oxford and can often be spotted basking in the comfort of colonial clubs or pottering around his restaurant, E&B, whose chocolate mousse has been garnering all the attention.
Troubles begin when The Mad Hatter opens across town and its attractive young proprietress shows a knack for concocting sweetmeats. Meanwhile, Aabir’s mother and the family priest unite to find him a ‘suitable’ bride. His monosyllabic sister won’t help and his incorrigible friend is too much the flagrant Lothario to be depended upon. Soon, the easily disoriented Aabir finds himself swamped by more ladies than he can handle.
Perhaps the only person who can bring things to a head is his dead grandmother, who watches over the family with an eagle eye from her unearthly abode on the coconut tree.
Hugely engaging, with bountiful laughter, read along to know how Aabir fares, even as he inches closer to the best dessert he can get his hands on and a romance he hadn’t bargained for.
Psst: The reader runs the risk of unappeasable hunger pangs, which is not to be held against this lip-smackingly tasty book.
Aabir Mookerjee,30, comes back to India from England after the death of his father and is staying with his mother, Debjani and younger sister, Aatreyee, in the family home in Calcutta. The other members of his household are an army of servants, some temporary and some permanent, two dogs, and his late grandmother, Thakuma, who lives atop the coconut tree. Not to mention the greedy Purohitmoshai, who comes to their house as if it belongs to him, and is only tolerated by Mrs Debjani Mookerjee. Their family loves chocolate.
Aatreyee has inherited a lot of qualities from her Thakuma and speaks in monosyllables. Rana Raina is his closest friend from childhood.
Aabir is very English in his tastes and always immaculately dressed. He is too polite and likes to speak only in English. He is the proprietor of E&B restaurant, less popularly known as Eggs & Bacon, on Park Street, which is famous for Chocolate mousse.
Kimaya Kapoor, 26, the owner of The Mad Hatters tea party, is a widow and has been encouraged by her mother-in-law to open the tea room. Kimaya has a peculiar dress sense. Crème Brulee is her specialty. She has a friend in England, who is coming down to Calcutta.
To increase his clientele, he has an idea of a business proposition which he needs to discuss with the proprietor of The Mad Hatters tea party, a newly opened tea room. For Kimaya, an alliance with E & B would give much needed publicity.
Purohitmoshai brings marriage proposals for Aabir because of the big gift dangling from Mrs Mookerjee, but Aabir is not interested.
The author has woven a beautiful story around a simple plot and the English used is ‘educated english’ as mentioned in the story. The characters have been developed very painstakingly and each character, even the supporting ones, has an important role to play in the story. The story is set in Calcutta, I loved the use of Calcutta in the book and not Kolkata.
The conversations between the characters are very realistic. Aabir’s penchant for colours increased my vocabulary of colours. The book has funny descriptions and is hilarious at times. The names that Kimaya uses for Aabir are funny.
My favourite character in the book is Thakuma, there was never a dull moment when her spirit was around.
All in all, a book written in a lighet vein and a must read.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.