Book Review: A Wicked Old Woman – Ravinder Randhawa

Author: Ravinder Randhawa
Publisher: Matador
Series: Stand Alone
Published: 1987
Rating: 3/5

Drama. Masquerade. Mischief.A Wicked Old Woman

A sharply observed, witty and confident novel. Linguistically playful, entertaining and provoking.
In a bustling British city,  Kulwant mischievously masquerades as a much older woman, using her walking stick like a Greek chorus, ‘…stick-leg-shuffle-leg-shuffle…’ encountering new adventures and getting bruised by the jagged edges of her life. There’s the Punjabi punk who rescues her after a carefully calculated fall; Caroline, her gregarious friend from school days, who watched over her dizzy romance with ‘Michael the Archangel’, Maya the myopic who can’t see beyond her broken heart and Rani/Rosalind, who’s just killed a man …

Vividly bringing to life a bit of the 60s, 70s and 80s. 

I don’t know about you, but when I read the blurb of this book I had many images of scandal, woman-power and cultures I know very little about. The book is the entwined stories of several Indian women living in London, focusing on the everyday struggles they face within the community, family and their Indian culture. Personally, it really opened me up to how people who weren’t originally born in England, struggled to adapt themselves around a new way of living, in addition to juggling their family and their remaining faithful to their culture.

The major thing I liked most about this book was finding out how the different characters slotted into each others lives and how each individuals story linked to another persons. For me, this is extremely exciting as I love stuff like this and it always urges me to carry on reading as I’m determined to find out.
However, as the result of having so many different female characters, I got confused several times as I couldn’t keep up with whose story was who’s, and me being the forgetful and silly person I am, couldn’t remember who some of the characters were and how they linked with others. This may be a problem just for me as I have been extremely stressed and busy this week, but in some places it was very higgildy-pickildy.

Despite this, I overall did enjoyed the book lots, as it was very beautifully written and I’m not just saying that, I could sense and feel the emotion put into the novel and I appreciated every single word written. You really got to connect with the characters and really sympathize with them as they faced difficult situations.
The protagonist Kulwant, has got to be one of my favourite female characters. She’s just incredibly charming in an un-charming way (if you understand me?) and a brilliant character who just fills me with so much joy. They way she see things in such a vibrant way and how Randhawa expressed her unique style through a large array of aromatic food images full of spice and deliciousness. I extremely enjoyed getting to know about the Indian culture as regrettably it is something I don’t know much about, so that was very inspiring.

If you are up to a challenge and want to experience an excellently written novel full of fun, laughter and bits of mischief thrown about here and there, then this book is perfect.


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