Fear and Lovely

by Chandra Sundeep

Fear and Lovely by Anjana Appachana is a story set in New Delhi in the 70s. Told from multiple POVs, this is a story of love, longing, and healing. Unfortunately, at 480 pages, it is too long…sigh! Almost never-ending!

Mallika is a student at a leading college in Delhi University. She lives with her mothers. Yes, she has two ‘mothers.’ Her birth mother and aunt, both of whom are mothers to her. She is close with both her ‘mothers’ but is unaware of a secret they and her grandmother are hiding. Mallika’s close-knit network includes her three best female friends, two male friends, and their mothers. She loves Arnav and Randhir but is unaware of their feelings.

When she turns nineteen, a traumatic event results in her losing three days of memory. And once again, her mothers come up with a plan that helps in saving face. As the story unfolds, Appachana reveals the various secrets and their impact on Mallika’s life and on those of others around her.

Appachana covers various themes, such as mental health, assault, sexuality, morality, perceptions, and societal pressure. She paints a beautiful picture of Delhi from the 70s and 80s. The camaraderie between neighbours, exchanging of dabbas, sharing a telephone connection with people living next door, lives of middle-class families, and their struggles are brought out wonderfully.

The unwavering bond Mallika’s mother has with her tribe is beyond beautiful. Mallika’s relationship with her childhood friends is so pure and strong.

Unfortunately, the narrative style was a huge dampener. I didn’t like reading about the same set of events from varied POVs. Frankly, it was quite irritating. I understand it’s a valuable tool and gives the readers a closer view of each character’s thoughts, fears, and worries. Just didn’t work for me!

Though Fear and Lovely was a dud for me, I wish the author the very best.

I received an advance review copy from Netgalley and Verve Books. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.


Wordsopedia Rating – 2/5


Title: Fear and Lovely Author: Anjana Appachana
Publisher: Verve Books Publication date: 9 May 2023
Genre: Fiction—Literary Format: eBook
ISBN‏: ‎ 9780857308344 No. of Pages: 480

Buy your copy here on Amazon

About the author

Anjana Appachana was born and educated in India, where she did her BA (Hons) in English at Delhi University and her MA in Sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University. After working in India for a few years, she went on to do her MFA in Creative Writing at Penn State. Subsequently, she has been living both in the US and in India. Appachana’s book Incantations & Other Stories was published in the UK, India, the US, Germany and France, and her novel Listening Now, in the US, India and France. Her short stories have been published in various journals, anthologies and magazines. Appachana is a recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship and an O. Henry Festival prize. She is based in Arizona.

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