It Must Have Been Something He Wrote is a debut that I read with a little apprehension. Firstly because it’s the debut of someone I follow (and like) on twitter and secondly, because it’s a romance and as a rule, I don’t read romances. Romances have always put me off with their gaggy titles and covers that look like they promise a happy oily ending in a seedy massage parlour but this one had such a cute cover and I’m so glad I read it because it was hilarious.
The story follows a new employee, Ruta, at Parker Hailey’s publishing house and her struggles to find her footing in a new place and a new job. Naturally not everything can go smoothly and she makes a rather big blunder, bigger than her previous blunders. When she realises that she’s handling publicity for Jishnu Guha, the author of the typical kind of best sellers in India, romance with cheesy lines and awful Hinglish sentences, she protests privately to her friend. But he overhears her and from then on life takes on its own course.
She’s nervous and snobby at first but as she gets to know Jishnu better she realises that maybe his success wasn’t all that unwarranted, maybe he does have a story to tell. And maybe, just because she loves reading books, doesn’t mean she’s going to be good at working in the book world.
Like I mentioned earlier I went into this with a little trepidation. I was worried that I’d be reading something that the covers of mills and boons books promise, an innocent virgin heroine and an experienced masculine guy who rescues her from evil men. But that wasn’t the case at all!
Yes, Ruta was innocent but not innocent in a virgin mary kind of way, but in an “I’m a dreamer and a lazy bum who doesn’t know how to do this job” kind of way. She does have a few brainwaves but otherwise she’s just a dud who’s quicker with her retorts than with her publicity ideas. I actually liked the character because it felt like someone I’d know. Ruta knew how to have her fun with or without a guy, she got along with people and wasn’t prudish and annoying.
Same with Jish. He wasn’t your typical manly man, he was realistic (as realistic as I imagine these characters are, I’m not friends with a male bestselling romance author to know) and vulnerable. The banter between the two, granted I don’t know hindi music and some references were lost on me, but it was hilarious to read. And the ones I understood reminded me of Sophie Kinsella so a pretty good win there.
The chapters are set in literary fests, bookstores and in the offices of a publishing house making this a perfect read for book lovers like us. And with the addition of a typical delhi style friend who comes up with random dialogues and an evil boss, this makes for the perfect weekend relaxing read.
I’d say Deshpande has come out with a hilarious, rib tickling debut, one where characters are balanced, plot isn’t too dramatic (except for the ending) and where the first person you meet isn’t the love of your life and no one is rescuing anyone from anyone else. It was a story about a friendship turning into love. It is a realistic story that we could all imagine. I hope she continues to write these kinds of romantic comedies.
*I was sent a copy for review, opinions expressed are my own.