Sudha Murty is a brilliant Indian author who writes novels that send a message for improvement. 'House of Cards' is no different. This book highlights how a person changes with money. It shows how a woman should stand for what she believes in. It puts forth the fakeness of rich people and showcases their real behaviour. It's the story of a village girl, Mridula who marries a doctor, Sanjay. While it brings out the meaning of marriage, it also shows the true side of corruption and portrays the difference in lifestyles of poor and the rich. This book almost has it all. I've rated it at 4 stars on Goodreads.
Mridula is a girl from rural Karnataka who is intelligent, beautiful and independent. She is a teacher who believes strongly in idealism. Every Indian woman can reflect a Mridula in themselves. She supports her husband but when Dr. Sanjay becomes a famous gynaecologist, he starts to dismiss her. Soon, she becomes a wife who is dominated by her husband and a mother who is taken for granted.
Dr. Sanjay comes off as a smart, sweet and caring person at the beginning. But as money starts to rule him, his outlook towards life changes. His only motto becomes that 'Money is Power'. The Sanjay from page 1 is leaps and bounds different from the Sanjay at page 232.
Sishir is the only son of Mridula and Sanjay. He idolises his father and doesn't value his mother. He's the rich spoilt brat and a spendthrift because of his father's inspiration to enjoy life. While his mother tries her best to give him a good upbringing, Sanjay and Sishir never take her seriously. After Neha's speech, he realises how important his mother is.
Sanjay's mother is a money-minded person. She calculates everything in terms of money. She isn't that much mentioned, otherwise it becomes intolerable to read her vision of life. Laxmi (Sanjay's sister) is another money-minded person who loves to show-off. Her whole family spends a lot just to claim a higher status. Mridula's parents are kind-hearted and always help her with everything whenever needed. Neha is Sishir's friend and exists only for a few pages, but her words are gold. Her way of thinking is just like Mridula's with more clarity.
The beginning of the novel is a short love story between Mridula and Sanjay. It's really amazing how they meet and everything happens fast and then they're married. I know this isn't a romantic novel, but more details of their love story would've been nice. During that period, Sanjay's transfer takes place and corruption happens. After they're married, they aren't exactly financially sound. They go through ups and downs. Mridula works in Bangalore while her husband finishes his post-graduation. At that point, it seems how well-balanced their marriage is. Soon, Sanjay starts a nursing home with his friend Alex. It grows fast and brings in money. Sishir is born at that time. As Dr. Sanjay becomes popular in Bangalore, his nursing home becomes the best one. With money, comes power and greed. The family starts to live in a posh home with many cars and maids for everything. Then, there's a major twist. Mridula understands that Sanjay had been cheating her. He earned black money and kept it in a joint account with his sister. With that money, Laxmi brought everything that was possible to buy; a house, a car and jewelry. Mridula is shocked at this mistrust by her husband. But Sanjay is least bothered and considers it like nothing. Mridula shuts herself and goes into depression. She goes to many people for aid and finally ends up with a psychiatrist. She heels and starts to feel good about herself in a few months. It's then that she understands the root cause. She leaves Sanjay and goes to her village in Aladahalli. By that time, Sishir, who is in England, understands her and asks his father to bring her back. Quite surprisingly, Sanjay also feels lost and lonely without his wife. The story ends as he goes to her village and finds her.
'House of Cards' focuses on many issues prevalent in India. It states how poor people don't get seats for what they deserve. It shows how rich people's lives are fake and shallow. It shows how trust, honesty and compassion must co-exist in a relationship. And lastly, it shows how money can destroy a family and a marriage. With the constant time leaps, the depth of the story is often lost. Another point which should've been crucial was the last sentence. It said, "Sanjay was holding the swing, with his one good arm." This somehow shows how he continued to control her life. Instead, the most important last sentence could've been something like, "Sanjay swinged her higher with his one good arm." That would mean freedom. Apart from these two misses, the story is fantastic and a must-read.