The whole story is already mentioned at the back of The Reluctant Debutante, in a nut shell of course.
Sanya and Tanya Grewal are twins and their similarities end at their appearances itself. Tanya is a blunt, calling-a-spade-a-spade, hot-headed and a practical person who’d prefer the company of books over people while Sanya is polite, politically-correct, amiable and ideal-for-society person. Needless to say, Tanya is hated by her father and the cause of his hatred is not just her attitude.
So, Sanya is readying herself to participate in a
beauty pageant Debutante program, managed and conducted by the near-tyrant Madame Fleur, in Paris where girls below 21 will compete against each other and the winner of the contest will be presented to the noble society, just like old French rituals, as The Debutante.
Sanya fractures her foot and is advised bed rest by the doctor. She forces Tanya to go to Paris in her place and participate in the contest as they look identical. This is where the fun begins. Tanya, who hates to socialize and doll up, agrees to torture herself for two weeks because her lovely twin emotionally blackmailed her into it against her will.
The Reluctant Debutante becomes a hilarious roller-coaster ride ever since the participant lands at Paris reluctantly.
Does Tanya manage to hide her real identity for two weeks? How does she fare in the competitions in which she never participated all her life? Does she manage to win the contest for her sister who had only dreamt of this one thing since childhood? Why does her father hate her? Answers to these questions will be found when you read the book.
Just like Vibha’s other books, The Reluctant Debutante, is filled with sarcasm, witty humor, cliched Bollywood-esque twists and romance.
The contrasting sides of both the twins is very nicely put. Vibha, with her word play, compels you to root for the protagonist and identify with her. The proceedings feel lively and makes you involved since the beginning.
Imagine a sarcastic person being struck amidst pretty girls who have nothing to talk about other than brands, cosmetics, dresses, dieting and love? Sure shot recipe for fireworks and they’re aplenty. Tanya’s love life is no less than a roller-coaster ride in itself. Her sarcasm and bluntness is enjoyable and especially her conversations with BBC are comic.
My only chagrin is that the climax seems rushed through. The emotional chaos could’ve been prodded upon further. As a reader, I did not feel really invested in the father-daughter angle which probably needed some more pages. Both, in flashback and in present.
Overall a light and fun read which will leave you smiling.
About The Author:
Vibha Batra is an author, novelist, poet and travel writer. Her published books include: Bathinda to Bangkok, The Reluctant Debutante, The Dream Merchants, Keeping it Real, Euro Trip, Ludhiana to London, Glitter and Gloss, The Activist and The Capitalist, Sweet Sixteen (Yeah, Right!), Seventeen and Done (You Bet!), Eighteen and Wiser (Not Quite!) Ishaavaasya Upanishad: Knowledge and Action, Tongue-in-cheek, A Twist of Lime and Family Crossword.
She has also contributed short stories and poems to several anthologies.