If anyone ever asks you why you read romance books, tell them to read this book! The perfect escapist summer read, Leylah Attar’s latest gem is everything I’ve come to expect from this incredibly gifted storyteller—evocative, moving, atmospheric, witty, sublimely written—and it’s the kind of story that fills you with delight from the moment you start reading it. Attar transports us to an exotic paradise of sun-kissed beaches and crystal-clear waters, a place where reality looks and feels like a dream, and where a young woman finally finds herself in the arms of a man who makes her feel brave, loved, and weightless in a world that has held her down for too long. This is by far one of my favourite books of the year.
I wasn’t afraid of dying. I was afraid of dying without living.
No matter how hard she always tried to be a good daughter to a mother who needed more parenting than her only child ever did, twenty-four-year-old Moti Ferreira constantly felt like a disappointment in her mother’s eyes. And while most Indian mothers dreamed of marrying off their daughters to worthy suitors, Moti’s mother would have been perfectly happy if her only child never married. Because Moti’d been told from birth that her fate was written in the stars, and that her oddly specific natal chart said she could only marry her soul mate—a three-thumbed one to boot—or her mother would meet an untimely death.
I never bought into the idea of soul mates. The notion that the universe owed me this one perfect person who fit me completely, loved me unconditionally, gave me toe-curling orgasms, retained his hair, teeth and erections, and put up with my shit through every single phase of life, was a huge burden to put on anyone. Hell, I’d run the other way if someone expected all of that from me.
So when Moti finally meets a man who ticks the one-thumbed box, she is thrilled to realise that he’s not only the best man at her cousin’s upcoming wedding, but that the entire wedding party would be soon cruising the Mediterranean together. She wastes no time plotting her seduction of the only man she knows her quirky mother would ever approve of, partly to appease her, but largely because she sees this as her one and only window of opportunity to break free from her colourless life.
Three months later, a luxury yacht sailing around the Greek Isles becomes the setting for a delightful blend of slapstick comedy and family melodrama. Moti’s family is the perfect mix of chaos and love, their every interaction turning into a colourful spectacle of family dysfunction and unconditional love. But sometime between trying to please everybody and smooth out everyone else’s problems, Moti begins her own journey of self-discovery.
“You don’t need a man with three thumbs, Moti. Just one with magic in his hands. One who will hold your heart as if it’s the most precious thing in the world.”
After a lifetime of being told to live life in half measures—don’t go in the water, don’t eat too much, don’t laugh too loud, don’t fall in love, with anyone but a three-thumbed man—Moti discovers the joy of following her own heart. A half-bunned, half-dimpled chef with a kind smile and a knack for creating food that stirs people’s deepest desires shows Moti how to embrace the world around her, rather than forever remain afraid of it. And so a young woman who’s spent her whole life living by someone else’s rules, desperately moulding herself into what her mother wanted her to be, gains the confidence to follow her own heart and become the person she wanted to be.
A sun-filled tale of love, family, and acceptance, this is one of the most feel-good novels that I have read in a very long time, and that’s in large part because of the author’s skill in bringing to life characters that are easy to love, and capturing feelings and emotions that are universal to us all. I adored this book cover to cover, and will forever recall this story with a fond smile.
When you’ve been looked over your whole life, it’s startling to find yourself in someone’s eyes, to be held in their vision, the same way they hold sunsets and beautiful things.