Title: The House That BJ Built
Author: Anuja Chauhan
Price: Rs. 350
The House That BJ Built by Anuja Chauhan is a jump sequel to Chauhan’s bestselling Those Pricey Thakur Girls. Written in the same vein as her previous three books, The House is an absolute delight to read. So much wit, repartee and emotion that you will not want to put it down at all.
It’s been two decades since Dylan Singh Shekhawat jumped off the terrace to rescue Chachiji, and the famed, alphabetically-named Thakur sisters of 16 Hailey Road have since then left the nest to settle down in homes of their own, across the globe.
Bauji’s big old house on Hailey Road has been divided into five hissas, a portion for each of the four sisters, and one for Bonu Singh, his twenty-something granddaughter, who also runs a flourishing business (an ode to her late father) of copying high fashion designs from the movies and making “them available to all the auntiejis of Hailey Road for a fraction of the price.”
In walks Samar Vir Singh, BJ’s step-grandson, whose casual insistence on opening up his portion of the house opens up a Pandora’s box, or in Chauhan’s words, “unleashes a Mega Kand in the house, of the scale and type those venerable walls have not witnessed in decades…”
Bauji wants to sell the house amicably, in a bid to keep the family intact. The four aunts welcome the windfall. Bonu Singh is, however, reluctant to sell. Samar, who is fighting is own battles, is made the mediator to ensure that all goes smoothly. And what looks like a simple real estate deal on paper soon transforms into a complex web of blackmail, deceit and a bunch of lies.
Chauhan, in her inimitable style, introduces various sub-plots along the way, regaling and alarming the reader in equal measure. You’ll encounter a lawsuit, lawyers that charge three-four lakhs an hour, old family squabbles that refuse to be quelled anymore, and much more, in simple, easy-to-read, Hinglish, replete with colloquialisms and mannerisms, that one normally associates with a Delhite. I found myself chuckling at so many instances at the various words and phrases used by Bonu Singh and the four mausis. Older and wiser, the four mausis are an absolute treat.
The House is one of Chauhan’s darker works, perhaps symptomatic of the issues it tackles. It is a deviation from the light, almost frivolous tone of The Zoya Factor and Battle for Bittora. But it’s also a more fleshed out book in terms of the plot and characterization. Bonu Singh is very likeable, yet despicable, at so many instances. At one level, it’s almost a coming of age kind of experience for her, and she is finally able to put her demons to rest. There is a little bit of Bonu Singh in each one of us. Defiant, yet a trifle unsure of herself, and in search of that last bit of acceptance.
The House That BJ Built will keep you hooked until the very end. Savor every word.
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