When Ashwin, a wealthy Delhi boy, meets Lallan, a struggling student from Patna looking to make his fortune, their friendship, with their mutual love for the almond-eyed Mallika, seems to transcend the fault lines of class and privilege. But one night at a party, a fateful incident leads their worlds to unravel with consequences that change both their lives forever, and exposes the deep turmoil inherent in the frenetic energy of the new, aspiring India.
Fire Under Ash introduces us to the lives of Ashwin, Mallika, Lallan, Meera and Vinny. Ashwin is a spoilt brat born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. He was getting ready to go to Columbia University when he meets Mallika and instead goes to Azad College. Lallan is basically from Patna who comes to Azad College to pursue his Masters and fall for Mallika too. Then there is Meera, Ashwin’s sister, who is engaged to New York based Vinny. The book revolves around the lives of these people, their struggles and decisions.
The highlight of the book is its flawed characters. None of the characters have the larger than life persona that fictitious characters usually seem to have. Instead they are your regular next door people who have their flaws. The author has done a commendable job of building up each character individually with their own sets of qualities and yet keeping them relatable. I particularly liked the character of Meera.
The plot is simple and kind of predictable yet the author has managed to make it interesting by infusing doses of our very own reality into it. She has also done a great job of portraying a variety of situations in different settings. It was almost too easy to imagine the people and their stories in my mind. The language is polished yet easy to get into. The dialogue delivery could do with some work as a couple of times they seemed unreal coming from the mouths of the characters that the author has built up for us. Another drawback of the book is the very clichéd moments in the book that were a bit of a turn-off.
Overall, this made for an entertaining read.