The twins' grandmother, Ammamma, ably pulls off a trifecta by arranging marriages for all three of her granddaughters, despite her poverty and the demands of dowry--the goal of Pullama's marriage to the dreamy and long-suffering Srikar being to rescue her from the goddess setup orchestrated by the dastardly politician Kondal Rao.
Scheming is the MO of all the characters in the novel. Mayhem springs forth, from kidnappings to blackmail to revelations of secret relatives to forced husband-swapping. From beginning to end, the power volleys between level-headed Pullama, the borderline Latta, and the buffoonish politico, Kondal Rao. Ammamma's nuanced, complex, but settled character provides the reader with a welcome breather from all that intensity.
The story's precipitating event is Latta's desertion of a wildly inappropriate husband --or, wait, is it actually fired off by Latta's out-off-wedlock pregnancy, or does it result from the twins' older sister Malli's "bridal viewing," in which a prospective bride is displayed for the first time to the groom's family? --In a book this crammed with calamitous events, it's hard to keep track of them all.
I found myself unable to stop reading, even as I complained about the book's relentless pace and the unconvincing, puppeteer villain. I'm still not sure whether or not Atreya intended to write a farce. Still, she tells a whomping good story, and like the savvy Pullama, Atreya knows how to reassemble her own broken pieces to create a vivid tale that won't let you go.
Rasana Atreya's website and blog