The Name of Red by Beena Khan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
From the author: “On a rainy, winter night, a mysterious woman in a red dress seeking shelter comes inside the restaurant Kabir was busy working in —primarily the bar— and night after night, drink after drink, she comes back to the same spot. That is where he sees her for the first time.
Hundreds of patrons around her try to speak with her daily, but she dismisses them. It appears she wants to remain in a blissful peace alone with her booze and books. After seeing the mysterious woman reading a book, and because of his shy nature, Kabir gains entrance into her life by anonymously leaving books with notes for her.
The Name of Red is the story of two strangers, two different personalities who meet on a winter, rainy night who challenge each other. They have a connection which blossoms into a friendship due to their fondness of books. But they both have secrets that can bind them together or threaten their newfound relationship forever.”
I was offered a review copy of this book by the author. The premise of the book was intriguing. I enjoy literary fiction, two characters with different backgrounds sharing books, sounds like my cup of tea. Unfortunately, the execution of the story fell flat for me.
I read this book before its publication date, but have struggled to review it, as I did not enjoy it. But I understand that all mentions are (or at least can be) good. The more exposure a book gets the better off it will be, right?
For a literary work, I did not see much character growth. The characters get to know each other better, but it is much more of a character reveal than growth over the course of the novel. I liked much of the early interaction between Red and Kabir especially as they talked books. But as that waned, so did my interest in how much vodka we were drinking tonight.
The story was complete. There is a distinct beginning, middle and end. I did not, however, find the story overly captivating. There were moments of interesting tidbits: the books, the family backgrounds, etc, but much of the book was about what Red was drinking tonight, how many drinks, and how drunk she is. The flashes of interest were too spread out for me.
One of my regular concerns is of editing. This book was edited, but could still use a good overall, thorough editing. There were sentences that were poorly formatted and structured, there were a few times that I felt there was a contradiction of facts presented.
I understand the author is planning on telling the stories of additional characters from this story and I am sure that will be a fun experiment. I am definitely willing to read another story or two from this author and to watch how she grows as a writer.
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