The bureau of second chances
The Bureau of Second Chances by Sheena Kalayil
Visit India as in the novel
This book deals with some interesting topics - returning back to your home after years of being away. 30 in this case which makes this a highly emotional novel and a story that many of us could find ourselves in. The title was interesting and at first I didnít get the reference but as it becomes clear it makes the novel even more of a journey.
Tell you something, the sense of place is indeed very strong - as are the colours and vibrancy of a city which is seen through the eyes of someone who was there when young but who returns later on and sees the place he knew so well through adult eyes. You discover with the author what this city means to her.
The story is bittersweet, and painfully personal at times. The characters all have something to offer the novel and itís a story where you finish and then stand by to really appreciate what youíve just read. There were times when I felt a little lost in the narrative like the man in the story but it was a read where I felt informed after the event. It read more as a linear narrative than a story as such - a documented account of the manís life - but the scene setting kept my attention.
The Bureau of Second Chances
It is not just that both books are set in India, or that they both tell the stories of people who have decided, at a time of change in their life, to move to the fascinating, even mysterious subcontinent. There is also a synchronicity between the novels, and a similar, bittersweet, uplifting tone which makes them impossible to put down. Yet, at the age of something, he has found himself at a crossroads in life: his beloved wife, Nimmy, has died of cancer, leaving him alone. For Thomas, the move to India is a return home after more than 30 years, and he finds the country familiar in some ways but alien in others. Soon, however, Thomas finds himself embroiled in the Bureau of the title ó a side business run by optical assistant Rani, who wants to help people find a second chance at love after divorce. Various opportunities to create a new future present themselves to Thomas ó not least with glamorous and attractive, yet down-to-earth expat Vee, who, despite the fact that she is married albeit, it is suggested, unhappily , appears to be the solution to his problems. However, adrift in a country where, Thomas admits, his wife had more close ties than he does, he is unable to find what he is looking for.
The recently widowed Thomas returns to Kerala having spent twenty-five years working as an optician in Tooting. Thomas has, with his wife Nimmy, over the last five years of their lives together, built a house in Kochi, Kerala. When Nimmy dies he returns to this house having not been there in three years. He and Nimmy have a daughter, Nina, who lives in Paris with her partner, Michel. Thomas feels almost alienated from Nina, who is clearly a modern young woman living a continental life which feels just as exotic to him, as his own life might appear to the reader. It is, in part, his perception that she has grown away and no longer needs her father, which is part of his leaving the UK; a perception which the novel later challenges.
Share on:. Recently widowed, with a grown-up daughter forging her own life abroad, London-based optometrist Thomas Imbalil takes early retirement and returns to his native India. After a short period enjoying the peace of his house overlooking the Arabian Sea, he agrees to commute to the city for a few months to look after Chacko's Optical Store to help out an old friend. Thomas soon discovers that the eager young assistant Rani is running another business on the side, but he agrees to turn a blind eye and leave it to his friend to deal with on his return. However, it stirs up thoughts and doubts within Thomas and before long he's involved whether he wants to be or not. The setting on the coast of Kerala in southern India is nicely invoked, the heat and the colours, and the way Thomas gets called Misterthomasfromlondon. He isn't a tourist but because of his thirty years abroad he isn't quite local either, which leaves him in an odd position.
No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf. After a lifetime in London, Thomas returns to their homeland alone and soon begins to reacquaint himself with the traditions and life he left behind. When a friend in need asks him to help run his Optical Store, Thomas soon suspects that there is certainly more at work than meets the eye in the store. For the efficient and trusted assistant Rani is also providing lonely men and women the opportunity for a second chance in life and love. Sheena Kalayil paints a wonderfully atmospheric picture of life in India and captures her characters perfectly so that I became invested in their stories and longed for them to find the happy ending they so deserved.