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3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  834 ratings  ·  75 reviews
When travel writer Christopher Stewart arrives at a riverside resort in Kerala, India to meet Koman, Radha's uncle and a famous dancer, he enters a world of masks and repressed emotions. From their first meeting, both Radha and her uncle are drawn to the enigmatic young man with his cello and his incessant questions about the past. The triangle quickly excludes Shyam, Radh ...more
ebook, 432 pages
Published August 8th 2006 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,265)
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I don't know about you. Some books I have on my shelves I get really excited about, and really look forward to reading. Sometimes these books let me down, admittedly, but usually they live up to my expectations. But I also have other books on my shelves that I can't remember why or how I acquired them, and I'm not convinced I still want to read them, but then when I do they blow me away with how good they are. This falls into the latter category.

Ostensibly, Mistress is the story of the bored Ind

Now that I have your attention let me tell you that Anita Nair might very well be my favourite Indian writer and I’m quite shocked this book didn’t do better because it’s very hard to find any serious flaw in it.

Here is a story of Radha, Shyam and Chris, a love triangle that feels refreshingly real and authentic. You can’t help but notice a certain cynicism with which Nair presents the romantic affairs of mortals, born out of hormones and boredom. This cynicism is absent in the narrat
Manu Prasad
..and finally after over two years of it sitting on my bookshelf, I finally forced myself to read it. I have to say that the short description provided doesn't do justice to the book at all.
Although it started slowly, I warmed to the book in a while. The fact that its based in kerala and around an art form that best symbolises my homeland perhaps lessens the objectivity of this review a bit, but I loved the way Anita Nair has used the navarasas to convey the different moods/emotions/rhythm that
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shalini M
The first book by Anita Nair that I read was "Ladies coupe". It was a long time back that I read it, and I hardly remember the story now, but I distinctly remember that it was a strong story - sad, real, and truly moving.

When I saw "Mistress" on the shelf of a book store, its cover immediately attracted me, the brief synopsis on the back intrigued me, and the previous experience with the author's writing encouraged me to buy it. And I must say that it left quite an impression on me. It has been
Crzy D
Anita Nair's 'Good Night and God Bless' is one of my favorites when it comes to nighttime reads, just before sleep, or one of those books you just dip into when you just have a few minutes to wait. Rather like the chocolate mint on your pillow in the nicer hotels, a nice refreshing taste before a good night's rest. But her 'The Better man' left me very disappointed. So I was a little sceptical about picking up something on the novel side again, but the fact that she did write 'Good Night and..' ...more
I really liked how this book brought to life the ancient art of Kathakali around the lives of well drawn characters whose struggles resonate. Never before did I hear about this ancient Indian art and so this was a pleasant surprise for me. There were too many plots in this novel which was at times confusing and annoying. But even though, I enjoyed how it was written in different voices so that there is a connection with each one of the characters rather just with a single narrator.
The premise is simple. A coming of age story of a frustrated wife - a narrative of a dancer wedded first to his craft and then to somebody's wife - a man in search of a story and another in search of riches. Did I say simple :)
The author has coloured her characters in all shades of grey. The only exception being the dancer. The storyline kept me hooked and left me pondering Radha's fate.
A good read..
With Kerala in the background and kathakali in the forefront, Anita Nair enfolds the characters of Radha, Shyam, Chris and Koman. Each one of them has a baggage and each of them try in their own way to overcome it. Shyam loves Radha but he is unable to let it show. He is materialistic and it is this picture he wants everybody to see. Radha finds Shyam boring, inadequate and below her intellect. She is someone who needs to be left free but is caught in this loveless marriage. She craves an intima ...more
Subra Kris
This was my first book of Anita Nair. After hearing so much in terms of how great the book is i read it and i must say i am not very impressed. The book is superflous and does not try to go indepth into character building, central story or messaging. There are probably 3 to 4 tracks of thought over here. Track 1 being that of love in its various forms - selfless love, selfish love, infatuation, lust and adultrey. But none of these come out strong in the story. The second track is that of arts - ...more
Sundarraj Kaushik
The books is based on the navarasas (expressions) of Kathakali. The navarasas being Sringaram (Love, Beauty), Hasyam (Mirth, Laughter), Raudram (Anger, Fury), Karunyam (Compassion), Bhibatsam (Disgust, Aversion), Bhayanakam (Fear, Dread), Viram (Strenght, Heroism), Adbhutam (Wonder, Amazement), Shantam (Peace).

The author has weaved a story around the characters in the book as they go through these varied emotions. One of the characters is a Kathakali artist. He stays near a resort that is manage
Nov 29, 2014 Aiswarya rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Aiswarya by: Aishwarya B S
It was 'Goodnight and God Bless' that I first read.Everything,starting from the cover was very welcoming and so I delved in to find delightful essays;reflections on life and writing.The perfect book for the bedside table,as many have called it.When I chanced upon 'Mistress',I thought I would try it.I am ashamed to admit that I hadn't expected much owing to other Indian authors I'd read.Which points clearly to my faulty beliefs,because this extraordinary experience.Rarely,we come across a ...more
Mar 27, 2011 Carmen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, my regret is that I had not read it when I saw my first and ony kathakali dancer while visiting Kerala. The writing is swift but very intuitive, my only hesitation might be the ending but I have no idea what other ending would have been possible. I highly recommend it.
trashy romance novel meets Indian folklore...makes it feel worthwhile
Leela Pal Chaudhuri
Don't why it took me so long to 'discover' Anita Nair. Thanks to The Hindu 'Lit for Life', that I picked up 'Mistress' and finished it within a week with some speed reading thrown in(an extremely brazen way to read this book, but I was wanted to know the progress in each of these character's lives)! Beautiful, eloquent and muscular writing.

I wonder why it is called 'Mistress' though since the author accords almost equal space for all the major characters in their individual narratives.

To do rea
I really appreciate the hard work and research conducted by the author. It gives a fairly good picture of the life and times of Kathakali artists and people living around Shornur, but as a person who was born and brought up near Shornur I can definitely say that Anita has failed to pass on the deep flavour of life and art around me here. She has researched and put on all the superficial technical aspects about Kathakali and life here, but even a small child would be able to make out that she has ...more
Alvi Harahap
"Set in picturesque Kerala and with Kathakali as a background , Anita Nair's 'Mistress' is written rendition of the traditional Indian dance form kathakali which colourful, vibrant and appealing. The main protagonist is Radha,a beautiful woman in her early thirties who is married to a man she does not love. The novel begins with the arrival of Chris, a foreigner to a small town in Kerala. American Chris Stewart comes into two lives. Radha is emotionally distanced and more than a bit contemptuous ...more
Jyoti Babel
When I borrowed this book from my friend, I wasn't really sure what to expect from it. I just wanted to read a different kind book. Kathakali is an integral part of the book with each chapters beginning with an explanation of the one of the navarassas (nine emotions/expressions) and then goes on to draw an analogy from life for all of them. The story is set in Kerala and the author which is the mother land of this form of dance.

The story is about 4 people, a famous Kathakali dancer-Koman, her n
a beautiful novel by anita nair...
when u start it seems 2 b a typical south indian based fiction wid lot of backwaters,greens,a typical dance form 2 b discused at lenths n ofcourse coconuts n banana's 2 b discussd in d 450 odd pages...its a task in it self 2 start d buk n kp urslf in gud humor 2 read further...

initial start howevr is very difrnt from d very beginning wen u c d author's narration of 3- 4 characters on a parallel ground wid no previous description along wid very s
Vibina Venugopal
the story is set on the banks of river Nila that instils the beauty of art, wonder of creativity and depth of love and passion and the pain of infidelity....Koman is a renowned Kathakali artist, Christopher Stewart , Chris a travel writer visit the Matt to interview him, but a deep attraction develops between Radha, Koman's niece and Chris , complication sets as Radha is married to Shyam.... There are more complicated relationships in this novel to be explored one that between Angela and aging K ...more
My favorite part of India was definitely Kerala. So in typical librarian fashion, I cam home and searched both Novelist and our catalog for Kerala - Fiction and only two titles: Mistress and Atlas of Unknowns. I enjoyed the setting of this book, it was too long and overly metaphorical. One of the main characters of this book is a retired kathakali dancer and a great deal of the book is devoted to this. I was glad to have seen some kathakali dancing, or it would have been totally lost on me. And ...more
Raunak Ritesh
This is the first book I read of Anita Nair and I must say that she is better than half of the authors in the world. When I was in school my English teacher used to ask us to describe anything randomly be it a pen or anything describable. The way the author described the 9 emotions made me like the book. One thing I will surely remember from it is that everyone has their own way of living and one must not judge them according what they think is right or wrong. I have never seen or read anything ...more
Anita Nair is an established writer and her books are worth reading.
This book was very interesting as it depicted the story and emotions of a Kathakali dancer that are strongly connected to his dance form. She rightly brings out the sad plight of these artistes who have a limited appreciative audience. The entire dance form is steeped in and inspired by mythology , and if you are not inclined to appreciate mythology of another country or culture then you are not likely to enjoy this book. I for
I was ranting and raving about this book while in the initial half. But, as with many such books with promising starts , things started fizzling out at the end. End was dragging and just tolerable, so what I supposed would turn out to be a five star book, woefully became an ordinary 3 star one. The theme is Kathakali, an ancient kerala dance form, and about a man who has devoted his life to the same, though he is only a parallel character in the story. His niece Radha and her cousin-husband Shya ...more
Preeti Bhadrannavar
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shweta Sonali
This is an abstract story written in various stages of abstract mind.. It would certainly make a plot for one of those art movies.
Arun Divakar
A passably good blend of heated passion and the short lived intensity of it forms one thread of the tale. It is interwoven with the tale of a kathakali artist whose ups and downs in life forms the spine that holds the tale together.

The nine rasas (emotions) that make up the art of Kathakali are dealt with in detail and given more depth from the perspective of the characters themselves. Kerala itself plays a major character for the tale and develops itself as the tale progresses.

Passably good eno
I said I wasn't going to read anymore of this author's books, but this one is her absolute best. Focusing on a woman dissastified in her marriage and her husband who jumps through hoops to earn her love...enter a westerner who's trying to learn if the woman's uncle is his biological father. Several beats later, they have an affair. The story also intersperses the uncle's sad, complicated story. Beautifully written, poignant and tragic with no winners in the end. I strongly recommend this one.
This was a good book -- I enjoyed that the narrator changed. At times, it seemed a little distracting to have two stories going on simultaneously. I think it was because one story was more engrossing (to me), and the other was much more slow moving. About 2/3rds of the way through, I began to get into the other story (from the past). All in all, a good book. I liked it, but didn't love it. I had high hopes for the ending, but I wasn't a huge fan of how the book ended.
Is not a bad way to spend a few hours. Quick, interesting, but the characters fall fairly flat. Its probably not a good thing when the character that is supposed to be so uninteresting to his wife and all others around him is actually the most fascinating and well realized character. The romance is also rushed and the initial attraction not explained well enough, so that it lacks the urgency that is required. Well written but not anything that sticks with you.
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