by Vidisha Chandna Dua
In Love and Hate, we meet Alia, renting an apartment in Delhi to escape from her recent past and Vikrant, also renting an apartment in the same block and attempting to come to terms with a family tragedy. Just as they start falling for each other, their respective pasts begin to catch up them and both realise they have more in common than they realised…
Love and Hate is the second novella from Vidisha and the characters have more depth and maturity than her first work, Life’s Not Over Yet* and consequently, I also found Alia and Vikrant much more likeable and investable. However, in common with the first novella, Love and Hate deals with two main characters renting an apartment in the same block. I thought it was an interesting concept and one that could form the basis of a series. The narrative in Love and Hate is surprisingly dark and there was a twist with a side character which was unexpected and I think this character could have been developed further. The prose is simply structured but flows well providing a nice, easy read with some thought-provoking elements. As the plot progresses, the tale reads like an allegory or moral fable; there is certainly an element of karma present in the plot. I like the inclusion of the ‘Excerpt’ at the beginning, it’s a nice, measured touch that demonstrates Vidisha’s attention to reader experience. The tale is told through use of an omniscient point of view which does make the narrative efficient but, in places, there was an abundance of objective over-explanation of character emotions. It would have been nice to have seen the characters actually expressing how they felt through their behaviour. Some of the prose read like a stage direction but I found this provoked an interesting dimension especially as the action is mainly set indoors.
Love and Hate is an original and readable novella that is well worth a look. Recommended.
* My review of Life's Not Over Yet can be found here