Author: Richa Gupta
Publisher: Notion Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
First Publication: 2018
Theme: Self-discovery, True meaning of feminism
Setting: India, Spain, Portugal
Narrator: Third Person Omniscient
Book Summary: Skeins by Richa Gupta
What happens when the skeins of life of 16 diverse Indian women, aged 25 to 67, get entwined when they travel to Spain and Portugal in an all-women’s tour? The novel, in the format of a story within a story with a galaxy of characters from modern urban India, depicts women travellers narrating their life stories during an all-women’s trip to the Iberian Peninsula for 13 days. The skeins of their lives get inextricably entwined as they journey together, share confidences and become a supportive influence on each other.
The first part of the novel, The Excursion, exposes their lives, loves, challenges, attitudes, strengths, children, dreams and follies; and the second part, The Aftermath, depicts the events that unfold and the decisions they take after the trip when they resume their former life with a fresh perspective. Amidst light-hearted mirth in a travel environment, several serious issues are highlighted, such as the quest for an independent identity and economic independence, the violence within and without our homes, the loneliness of old age and the need for constructive channelization of youthful energy.
There are instances when the truth suddenly pitches at us with an undeniable impact. Our buried feelings come to the fore due to a trigger in our environment.
Spanning events across a little more than a year, the novel depicts how self-expression and a supportive environment trigger a cataclysmic effect and stimulate the women to realize their dreams. While some look for a life mate when they realize they have been denying their inner propensity due to a psychological fear of intimacy, others resolve to lead an independent and self-respecting life due to the deception of a mate, a desire to prove their worth or an urge to contribute to society. Just like bright yarns stand out prominently against yarns in muted shades, the vivacious personalities of some women take the forefront while others are subdued by societal pressures to remain in the background.
The story highlights the aspirations of women and depicts contemporary Indian women who are capable of independent decision-making, each taking a decision for the future or undergoing a transformation in her unique circumstances.
Book Review: Skeins by Richa Gupta
Skeins is an eloquent story of how one group of rather mixed up women used the journey. They’re able to dig deep into their past and their fears. The struggles along the trail gave them the strength and clarity to face who they really are and what they’re capable of.
The book is about Sixteen women of different age and lifestyle who join together for a two-week trip to Spain and Portugal. This trip helps them in searching for the inspiration they needed to decide what it is they truly want with their lives. The book is divided in two parts. First one The Excursion deals with their lives before the trip; and the second part The Aftermath shows their lives after trip and how the decisions they made during the trip changes their lives.
Not only do we get to know 16 women of different age and background as they take us along their 13 days long journey, but we also get to learn about all of these new and exciting places they get to visit. It’s as if we are right alongside them on this journey of self-discovery – we get to hear about all the problems they’re facing in their life, from work to personal life. As the trip progresses, we begin to notice the changes slowly taking place within these women and the fact that they are starting to realize what they really want. Of course, along the way there are arguments, hugs, lots of laughter and an overall appreciation for one another.
“There is nothing like staying alone; that’s why I said I stay independently. One is connected to people wherever one stays: if not family, then neighbours, colleagues or service people.”
This book really does provide a genuine feel of what these women mean to each other and what this small vacation means to them. Skeins, however, gives a realistic and painfully honest account of women who decide to go on only-women trip after facing career hardships, relationship issues, and a general feeling of unease surrounding their lives. Instead of glamorizing their travels, they speak frankly about the difficulties of spending every second of every day of their lives.
Skeins is extremely well-written. It’s full of memorable characters, drawn so vividly. Author Richa Gupta captures the emotions of women who has lost their anchor in life very well. Beyond the emotional pull of the novel, it is an adventure story that takes us through all the highs and lows of lives of 16 women. Interspersed with little anecdotes from their lives before the trip, it shows everything (from cheating husband, dying loved one, heart break, career and much more) that these women face in struggle to sort their life out.
Skeins by Richa Gupta is a book about friendship, travel, inspiration, and discovering who you are. Talk about a fun, interesting and inspiring read and I’ll recommend you Skeins by Richa Gupta.