The Obscure Logic of the Heart by Priya Basil

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The Obscure Logic of the Heart by Priya Basil

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Laura Bailey
Reviewed by Laura Bailey
Summary: A story of star-crossed lovers for a twenty-first century audience. It surpasses its basic story to bring a tale which encompasses the lives of two people who, despite leading fairly separate existences and coming from opposing backgrounds, love each other in a way that is comfortingly familiar. This is a book that breaks down boundaries, between religions and countries and highlights the controversies, to show that in the end we all want the same things.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: June 2010
Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 978-0385611442

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Lina is from a devout Muslim family and lives with her aunt while she studies law at university; where she meets Anil. Anil is a Kenyan boy from a non-practicing Sikh family who dreams of becoming a ground-breaking architect. The two fall in love but as the lies they have to tell their respective families become more and more elaborate they are forced to make some difficult decisions.

From the blurb I was worried that The Obscure Logic of the Heart was going to be your typical Romeo and Juliet story. There is, of course, that element to it, however, Priya Basil succeeds in making this novel so much more than that. It's about love, yes, but it is also about family, politics, art and religion and the story is a lot more complex than it comes across in a description. The story is less of an arc and more a very winding road; it feels like a battleground which recreates for the reader the trials faced by the two main characters.

The first few scenes were a bit clichéd, which worried me as to how the tone of the rest of the novel would go. These scenes were little bubbles of fantasy romance that seemed to negate the sophisticated balance that the book went on to strike between romance and reality. The only other note in this story which seemed a little false was how successful both of the lovers were in their chosen careers, which added an element of surrealism to the story. Yet for the bulk of the book the author handles the fairytale romance well, with the passion between the two main characters being at once both magical and entirely believable.

The author writes in a lyrical style which seems conscious of itself. The poetic writing is not the kind which falls surreptitiously under the reader’s radar but instead keeps them tottering on top of the story, being carried along and bounced up and down by the language. This actually works really well with this kind of story because the change between points of view as we follow the different characters by omniscient narrator means that the reader is kept at a certain distance anyway.

The novel is filled with a scattering of love letters from an unknown woman to the man who left her and through the duration of the story we are given the clues we need to slowly unfold the truth about who the people in these letters are. I did work this out quite early on, which was possibly intentional on the author’s part as I would probably have skipped them to get back to the main story if I hadn’t been able to see their relevance to the plot. It may just be personal taste but I do tend to find it frustrating when an exciting narrative is continually interrupted by another story that commands less urgency. Therefore, despite the letters being beautifully written, and key to the ending of the novel, I did find myself skim-reading them to get back to the main story. It would probably be on a second reading that these letters would attract more of a reader’s appreciation.

The ending is absolutely perfect. Whenever there was a twist in the story I was surprised and yet each time I was sure I knew what the next twist would be, before being surprised again. These twists, as well as a clever ending is what stopped this story being a cliché that we have all heard before and, despite much guessing, the end was sophisticated and touching.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: If you liked The Obscure Logic of the Heart then you should try reading Brick Lane by Monica Ali for another novel that demonstrates the trials of loyalty to culture and to self.

Buy The Obscure Logic of the Heart by Priya Basil at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Obscure Logic of the Heart by Priya Basil at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Obscure Logic of the Heart by Priya Basil at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Obscure Logic of the Heart by Priya Basil at Amazon.com.


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