"And so it is no surprise when a few pages later a girl’s ghost from the past disturbs the psyche of the protagonist. It is time then to settle for what Varma thinks is a detection set-up. But the strong hints get to be so loud that we are never surprised by anything that happens. Will there be a replay of Maria’s tragedy?"
"Raja tells us too little, until it is too late. Even the murkiest mystery arises from facts, and our interest in his situation could only really be piqued if we knew something solid about it. But his narrative, though rich in thought and observation, is short on facts. We are led to a conclusion without ever being primed for it. And when we finally understand, not just the secret of Raja's pathology, but the bare details of it, we wish we'd been told before."
These are crucial extracts from two good reviews of Maria's Room. The first appeared in the Sunday Herald and was written by noted critic and academician Prema Nandakumar. The other's from The Hindu's Literary Review, and is by Aditya Sudarshan, a young writer whose first novel was published last year.
The first complains that I give away so much in the story that there's no suspense left. The second says that I give so little away that it isn't fair to the reader. The rest of the reviews-- both of them-- have fairly nice things to say. Aditya calls it an atmospheric, highly literary novel. And Prema says: "Varma is a scene-watcher alright and has a way of coming up often with sentences we like to caress."
But their criticism leaves me confused, in complete contrast to each other. How will I learn from criticism? :-(