Written in the Stars by Divya Anand | Book Review

“Maybe if I fell asleep thinking of something else, like Pride and Prejudice, I would dream that I had a Mr. Darcy of my own. Isn’t that how a well-adjusted, single woman in her late twenties who was happy with her life behaved? It was, wasn’t it?”

When all her efforts at political maneuvering, sucking up and even doing her job fail to land her that elusive promotion, Sitara decides it’s time to use the new marketing head Abhimanyu’s obsession with his horoscope to her advantage. Soon, she’s rescheduling meetings, pitching ideas and picking launch dates based on his horoscope. Except, Sitara is so focused on manipulating Abhimanyu with the career section of his horoscope that she doesn’t pay attention to the personal section. Hilarity ensues when these star-crossed signals result in Abhimanyu pursuing Sitara romantically, without realizing that the ‘signs’ are engineered coincidences in her quest to get promoted.

Soon, Sitara is faced with choosing what she really wants: a career progression or true love. She must chart her own course even if what she has in mind may not be what the stars ordained.

47. Written in the Stars

In all my years, I’ve come across one person whom I distinctly remember would consult a priest every morning to plan meetings and projects. Whatever the priest’s instructions – feeding a cow, not sitting with your back to the sun, repeating a magic mantra 21 times before entering the conference room – this person would follow it as if the Goddess herself had spoken. Reading this blurb reminded me of some hilariously insane conversations at work and I had to know more.

Sitara is a trivia nerd who takes part in the weekly trivia night held at a brewpub. Her team-Whiskypedia-comprising of friends and colleagues has made quite a name for themselves among Bangalore’s trivia enthusiasts. Unfortunately for her, at this Thursday’s event, she has managed to offend someone and draw the ire of almost everyone in attendance.

Of course, when things go wrong, they do so in spades as Sitara learns the hard way. Just as she is trying to put the trivia night incident behind her, that someone she offended turns out to be the new marketing head for the startup she works at. And this marketing head, Abhimanyu, is the last stop between her and the promotion she has been eyeing for the past two years.

Divya Anand, in her first fiction novel, tells a freakishly comedic story of mayhem at the workplace. When horoscopes start dictating which meeting rooms to hijack and at what time, it is easy for work-friends to turn into sworn enemies. And those angling for the same promotion as Sitara, don’t think twice before fanning the flames of conflict.

After a long day, I picked this up for some R&R and read it in a single sitting. Instead of naming chapters, the author decided to use horoscope predictions that could probably double up as trivia questions (which, in my experience, is how most horoscopes read). Bursting with competitive employees, multiple chat groups for gossip, and grimy office politics, it still leaves you wanting more.

The premise of Sitara diligently working in tandem with Abhimanyu’s horoscope on a generic app may sound almost filmy but Anand treats it with spirited flair. As much as you relate with Sitara’s professional struggles, the situations she finds herself in are no one’s fault but hers. I do love how Sitara, being the literature expert for Whiskypedia, is always talking books and favourite fictional characters. If I sat down to make a list, I could easily build a year-long TBR from all the titles mentioned here :).

Abhimanyu is a no-nonsense guy who detests name dropping and has worked hard to rise the career ladder quickly. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine how he managed it all on the back of a horoscope app that spews out random predictions every day.

When Sitara decides to tag her luck to the same app and play out her chances of fast-tracking her promotion, her flatmate and BFF, Kavya, tries to reel her in. If there’s one person who can manage to keep Sitara in check, it is Kavya with her balanced head on her strong shoulders. But even Kavya’s magic is failing when Sitara’s singlular focus is that promotion.

One could argue: What about Sitara’s sister, Sahana? Well, yes, she could, if she wasn’t so quick to lose patience with Sitara. Sahana with her perfect family and career has categorised her sister as a lost cause and given up on her.

Of all the characters in this book, my favourite is Inaya, Sahana’s ten-year-old daughter and Sitara’s niece. She who schedules days on her calendar to KonMari her room and recognises a kindred spirit when she sees one is all things adorable. This ten-year-old imparts more wisdom than all the family brains put together. If I can choose one fictional character to be my friend, please, I want Inaaya.

A tug of war between the choices we make and our destiny written in the stars, this is ridiculously funny and stubbornly relatable. I doubt I will read a horoscope with a straight face ever again.

Written in the Stars by Divya Anand. Published in August 2021 by Ebury Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House India. This review copy courtesy of the author.

Book 47 of 2021.

Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟.

Available on Amazon*.

About Photo: When Sitara first learns about Abhimanyu’s obsession with horoscopes, she laughs at him, conveniently forgetting about her lucky butterfly earrings.
This Aries’ Ram is going head-to-head with the butterfly but little does it know.
The butterfly is made with origami using patterned paper and the Aries’ ram is cut in a stencil design on 220gsm cardstock.

47. Written in the Stars

About the Author: Divya Anand, often called ‘baal ki dukaan‘, struggled with unruly, thick, curly hair for over two decades before she realized her hair looks best when it’s left uncombed! She loves using her curls to hold the numerous pens, pencils and paintbrushes she needs while she’s writing, doodling or working. She gets her best creative ides when she’s hanging upside down, doing anti-gravity yoga.
If you’re in Bangalore, you might spot her (and her distinctive curls!) with her husband Vivek. Their quest to eat bizarre foods from around the world feature in her first book, Dare Eat That.
You can reach her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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