Home Book Review “A Kiss In Kashmir” Promises A Second Chance At Love

“A Kiss In Kashmir” Promises A Second Chance At Love

“A Kiss In Kashmir” Promises A Second Chance At Love
Monica Saigal and her latest novel, A Kiss In Kashmir (image courtesy: Mona Shah)

A woman’s desire to reconnect with her past leads to an unexpected new beginning – a reminder that life gives us second chances

By Mona Shah

Optimism is the core of this novel

I have known the author of “A Kiss in Kashmir,” Monica Saigal for several years now. I was her editor when she used to write for India Currents Magazine, and so, we have had many conversations about the arc of our lives, our children, our loves and our losses.

Saigal has always been an optimist. Regardless of whatever life throws at her, her steadfast belief is that the love of her life—George Clooney—will someday sweep her off her feet, love she attests has an uncanny way of finding its way back to us.

That really is the core of this romance novel, a woman’s desire to reconnect with her past that leads to an unexpected new beginning. A tender exploration of love, loss, and second chances, set against the breathtaking backdrop of Kashmir.

Love in a cold clime

Sharmila Solanki, an artist from Washington, D.C., has high hopes for her trip to Srinagar, Kashmir. Her daughter, Alina, is engaged to Emilio, an aspiring lawyer. Sharmila wants the couple to marry in Srinagar, the hometown of Alina’s father, Vikram Pandit. It is a place Sharmila knows only through the stories Vikram told her before they were tragically separated.

In 1995, love flourished between Vikram, an artist teaching in Jaipur, India, and Sharmila, a gifted painter descended from Rajasthani royalty. Shortly after Vikram learned Sharmila was pregnant, he was shot (and presumed dead) during an act of political violence. More than 25 years after the loss of Vikram, Sharmila views Alina’s wedding as an opportunity to discover his birthplace and find members of his family so they can meet his daughter.

A second chance at love

During Sharmila and Alina’s travels, they meet tour guide Wajid Malik and his brother-in-law, George Tomson, a retired professor with a passion for Indian art. As mother and daughter explore Srinagar, an attraction develops between George and Sharmila. But when Sharmila receives surprising news about Vikram, she wonders if her future belongs with Alina’s father or the man who offers a second chance at love.

The book is fast, some may call a “beach read,” however what sets it apart is Saigal’s prose, which is exquisite, painting vivid pictures of Kashmir’s lush valleys, snow-capped mountains, and ancient shrines. The reader is transported alongside Sharmila as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, not just through the physical landscape, but also through the depths of her own emotions.

The human story

The novel doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the region’s complex history and the undercurrents of tension that exist. However, Saigal weaves these elements into the narrative with sensitivity, focusing primarily on the human stories that emerge amidst the turmoil.

Sharmila is a deeply nuanced protagonist whose personal and romantic journey forms the core of the narrative. While Vikram’s story is the centerpiece of the prologue, he remains a vital force throughout the novel as Sharmila and Alina discover the Srinagar he knew and loved.

A little-bit of Bollywood

Sharmila’s unexpected connection with George is beautifully portrayed. Their shared love for art and understanding of loss forge a bond that transcends age and circumstance. Their blossoming romance is both heartwarming and bittersweet, with a bit of Bollywood-style scenes thrown in (a water fight in the middle of the streets, with a wet sari draped Sharmila, being whisked away in George’s arms!)

“A Kiss in Kashmir” is a delightful read for anyone who enjoys romance novels, a great book to take on vacation. Saigal is a single woman in her 50s and while reading the book, I couldn’t help but think of her as the protagonist. Her characters are relatable and well-developed, their journey offering a poignant reminder that love can blossom in the most unexpected places, and at any stage in life.

Read: Award-Winning Author Veera Hiranandani Never Learned About the Partition at School


cropped-mona-shah-e1656312916463-120x120Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor, her experience spans television, cable news, and magazines. An avid traveler and foodie, she loves artisan food and finding hidden gems: restaurants, recipes, destinations. She can be reached at: mojoexplore.com

Courtesy: India Currents (Posted on March 12, 2024)


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