I love Sandhya Menon’s books, and lately I really like to read different retellings of Beauty and the Beast story. Combining these two things, I couldn’t help but to want to read “Of Curses and Kisses” as soon as they announced it. The fact that I was lucky to read it in advance is a real miracle and it makes me very happy. I received it as a part of the author’s street team.
In this story, the beauty is the Indian Maharani Jaya, and the role of the beast is taken by the English aristocrat Grey Emerson. After “someone” makes a scandal about Jaya’s younger sister, she decides that it all comes from their feuding family, Emersons, and especially their heir, who happened to be same age as her. And what better than going to study at his college, make him fall in love with her, and then abandon him? Well, things turn out pretty interesting.
Here as well Sandhya has created an interesting universe where once you enter, there is no going out. St. Rosetta Academy is located in a mountain town, and the rich and famous send their children there to study in seclusion, far from the all-seeing paparazzi. Mountains, beautiful landscapes and various shops are all in one place, making the story true and yet extremely interesting and easy to follow.
The characters we meet are funny, despite everything that has happened to them in life. Even though they are teenagers, they live a life full of restrictions, which leads to strange and comical situations, but also ones that each of us can learn from. And not only the main characters have their own story – the minor ones also play an important role in the overall plot, to such an extent that they at times trigger an avalanche of actions that pile up on the heads of the main characters.
Unlike the earlier books of Menon, there is not so much use of Indian words in the character’s way of speaking, but we do get acquainted with interesting facts from the Indian aristocracy. And the story, ah, the story… everything is so well-recreated – the mystery, the tension, the curse that haunts Grey, the necklace that plays a very important role in the narrative – everything is brought together in a way that makes you want to read until you reach the end.
This is really one of the best retellings I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot. I recommend it with both hands if you want romance, but also if you want to get acquainted with a foreign culture. And I must admit that the writing style is so good and easy to read even if English is not someone’s first language, which is my case.
Here are some songs that I thought were suitable for listening as I read the book.