By Angel A
Angel’s Leap PTY LTD
August 2017, 480 pages
Reviewed by Lyndsey Redding
In Mary Poser, Butterflies and White Lies as Bollywood Comes to Nashville, this reviewer discovered a more complex story than the title suggested, also a more compelling story.
Told from the title character’s point of view, Mary Poser is a young, overly accommodating woman, making every effort to meet her Southern Baptist family’s expectations. It’s fairly clear from chapter one that this effort is not sustainable. Mary can’t please everyone—a fact that becomes obvious to Mary after she meets Simha Das, a Bollywood filmmaker, and they share an instant attraction. Simha is everything the parent-approved musician Mary is expected to marry is not: sincere, attentive, caring, interesting . . . and Hindu. This is a major problem that Mary is unprepared to face, especially after a night of passion that rocks her out of the carefully-constructed cocoon she’s been living in. Upset and frightened by the person she’s becoming, Mary flees . . . eventually into the arms of the “safer,” parent-approved choice, Jason. It isn’t love, but Mary wants to believe that her family must know best. Besides, Simha does not “fit” into Mary’s life. Frustrating them both, she won’t let him. As Mary discovers in this entertaining novel, she must grow before obtaining the life in which she truly fits and can experience the love she wants.
Mary Poser is rife with symbolism as the author compares and contrasts Mary’s and Simha’s religious beliefs and cultures, also while Mary develops as a character capable of stepping out of her cocoon. A number of serious and timely issues (prejudice, religious tolerance, self-harm, aging) are incorporated into the story and add to the depth of the conflict facing Mary and Simha.
While Mary Poser immersed me into such a well-developed world of Nashville that I could practically feel the humidity, the story is uneven and not without flaws. Mary Poser at its best moments is a romantic, likable, visually rich story that offers social commentary while it entertains.