Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Museum of Innocence: A Review

By Chithrangada Nanda
Love is something to which one devoted one's entire being
at the risk of everything. But this happens only once in a

What is love?
Some people mistake lust for love.
But, then, is there love without lust?
When love happens between a man and a woman in their prime of youth, and if the woman is as beautiful and enchanting as Fusun, lust is bound to be there, shaking the person's entire being, penetrating into his very soul and capturing his world, making him a slave of his passion.
With alluring descriptions about the minute details of the setting and milieu, the writer invites us to embark upon the love story of the protagonist, Kemal, heir to one of the wealthiest families of Istanbul in 1975, who is about to become engaged to Sibel from another aristocratic
family. Then, he encounters Fusun, a shopgirl and a distant relation, and felt “his heart in his throat with the force of an immense wave about to crash against the shore.”
From then onwards his life changes into a turbulent 'motorboat' caught in the ebb and flow of stormy waves of passion and grief.
In this intricately woven romantic saga, Pamuk depicts explicit scenes of the world of westernised families of Istanbul with their opulent parties and clubs, society gossip, dining room rituals, picnics, their mansions on the Bosphorus, infused with the melancholy of decay.
There are two elements in this book which make it exemplary and unique in its approach. One is the suspense and intrigue as to whether Kemal would be able to win his sweetheart, which acts as a catalyst to keep the interest of the reader going through, sometimes dragging but the otherwise touching narrative of the mental agony and physical torture felt by the protagonist.
There are moments when we merge and become one with him and experience his agony with nerve-racking intensity which leaves us drained and shattered.
Second is the relentless pursuit of the protagonist which will make him an obsessive compulsive collector of objects which manifests his love story and the nine-year journey of patience and perseverance.
It is endearing but at the same time alarming to witness how 'love', the most powerful emotion transforms a normal, healthy and exuberant young man into a drunkard and an ailing psycho with delusions and hallucinations.
In the end all that will remain to him is the museum he creates which exhibits rituals of the half modern and half traditional Istanbul and of his broken heart redolent with Fusun's lipstick.
”The museum of innocence will be forever open to lovers who can’t find another place to kiss in Istanbul.”
And we should keep our hearts open to the arrow of light which will strike us any day, any moment.
Indeed, it is better to have loved and lost than never to love!


  1. hmmm a nice and captivating intro for the book...the language is simple...

  2. Umm...the story sounds a bit like 'Devdas':-D


    Join Facebook. You and John can argue about Anna karenina!

  3. ..
    ലളിതമാണല്ലൊ ഇത് :)