Review

In Beautiful Disguises

by Rajeev Balasubramanyam



Living in a small Indian town at 16 may seem like a living hell for
Arjuna --- with a drunk and bullying father, a meek and quiet
mother, an overachieving sister, and an underachieving brother,
Arjuna escapes to the movies regularly and imagines herself Audrey
Hepburn, anything to get away from the reality that surrounds her
and limits her dreams. When her sister is married off, Arjuna is
upset; but then realizes that perhaps it is her only chance for
escape. She allows herself to be married off as well and rushes to
The City in order to live out her Holly Golightly dreams. IN
BEAUTIFUL DISGUISES by Rajeev Balasubramanyam casts the reality of
life for such a girl in Hollywood lights and the inevitable push
and pull of the eccentric characters she encounters on her journey
to herself.

Arjuna is an appealing character, an expressive and imaginative
girl whose flights of fancy are just that, flights from
reality and not towards it. However, once she gets out into the
real world, her perspective changes. She delves into the people and
new life that beckons her upon the vehicle that is her arranged
marriage, an arrangement for which she has little patience.
Bravely, she even allows herself the opportunity to explore the
tastes of croissants and champagne and the son of the man for whom
she works as a maid. Eventually, Arjuna comes to the understanding
that the "disguises" she creates for herself cannot keep her from
who she really is and where she is really from and she sets about
on the difficult path to acceptance --- of herself, of her flawed
family, of her less-than-Holly-Golightly-wood life.

IN BEAUTIFUL DISGUISES is a fine first novel, an often-told tale of
changing identities that makes a fresh start for this genre ---
Arjuna, her background, her tall tales, her love of the movies, and
the fantasy life they create for her, is a bright and funny heroine
in a world that many Western readers will find exotic and new.
Rajeev Balasubramanyam has a burgeoning talent that we will surely
hear from again.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 22, 2011

In Beautiful Disguises
by Rajeev Balasubramanyam

  • Publication Date: January 17, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • ISBN-10: 1582341273
  • ISBN-13: 9781582341279