All About Books Book Review

The Nine-Chambered Heart by Janice Pariat #BookReview

Ever since the beginning of this year, I had been reading some great books. Thanks to all the Reading Challenges that I am part of and of course, the recommendations through bookstagram. I came across this book when I was scrolling up and down on an online bookstore. The title and the beautiful watercolor sketch caught my eye. I hadn’t heard of this book until then and therefore, my reading experience was going to be naked and raw.

Here’s the blurb as on Goodreads.

“Nine characters recall their relationship with a young woman – the same woman – whom they have loved, or who has loved them. We piece her together, much as we do with others in our lives, in incomplete but illuminating slivers. Set in familiar, nameless cities, moving between east and west, The Nine-Chambered Heart is a compendium of shifting perspectives that follows one woman’s life, making her dazzlingly real in one moment, and obscuring her in the very next.

The Nine-Chambered Heart by Janice Pariat – Review

“People think it’s hard, that it’s the most difficult thing in the world, but it’s easy to love.”

And that exactly is the essence of the book. I instantly fell in love with this book – right from the moment I held its beautiful hardcover, to when I finished reading it. The poetic narration helped, for each chapter was flowing smoothly.

Janice Pariat’s The Nine-Chambered Heart is about nine people describing their love for one woman at different points of her life. These nine perspectives are the ambigiously allocated nine chambers of her heart for her nine lovers. Poetic much? One glance at the content of the book, you’d understand that it is a collection of short stories or rather encounters of each person who were briefly a part of her life, in some way or the other. Each chapter is titled in such a way that it subtly leaves a hint to the personality of the narrator.

All throughout the story, one doesn’t get to know her name or where she is from. There is an element of mystery and I liked how vague it is when you see the entirety of the book.

“How others see us only in bits and pieces, and how sometimes we tend to become what others perceive us to be”.

It was refreshing to get to know the woman through nine people in her life – each one having a different relationship with her, all based on love. Yes, this book explores all facets of love – innocence, lust, companionship, trust and in a way, hurt and betrayal. We become acquainted with the woman through the opinion, belief, and judgement of these nine characters who came in her life. The different traits of her personality are understood through their feelings of love which thus helps in painting her picture in our head.

The stories are scattered around time and space, as in different cities. A glimpse of her childhood is depicted in the first chapter, The Saint – which is also one of my favorites. From there, the story progresses to young love, friends, lovers, and marriage. The order in which each encounter is spread out is impressive because with each narrator another beautiful layer is added to the woman’s personality. The story just flows and having these varied POVs help us fill in the blanks. We piece all these experiences together to form the image of the woman.

At the end of every chapter, you may want to close your eyes and linger on, marvel at the beauty of the words just read and imagine a love so beautiful.

“I am struck, at this moment, by how precisely we know how to hurt the ones we love.”

What I loved most about the book is that it is more flesh and blood. It is real and true to our feelings. You can connect with the story and narration. Janice depicts realistic characters with flaws found in every human being. She doesn’t aim to glorify any relationship or justify a feeling. The characters aren’t shallow and each story runs deep.

The woman isn’t depicted as perfection. She is grey -a lost soul looking for love and stability. Yet she is disappointed time and again by people in whom she searches that love. She constantly seeks for love in the form of a friend, lover, confidant, protector. It’s the latter half of the book that you feel emotionally worn out, for it is intense.

Do I Recommend?

Of course, yes. It’s a book that grows on you, one that is filled with emotions. You may even learn a thing or two about yourself as well!


Four Paws on Five!

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Read for the Prompt: A book written by an author who is new to you for Wrote Tribe Reading Challenge


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  6. Sitharaam Jayakumar September 12, 2019

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