To declare that a book is not for everyone is to perhaps doom its potential readership/sales. The fact is: no book is for everyone. Reading levels, interests, current life situations and the sheer chance of running into a book that holds firm are all unique experiences.
Mridula Garg’s The Last Email is not for everyone. It tests the intentions of even the hardiest reader—a book composed entirely of self-indulgent emails. That apart, in the interchange and in the shared reminiscences of the mails, there is simply no space for the reader, no role at all except as an interloper or voyeur.
There is something delectable about lovers reuniting over the internet and re-establishing one tentative missive at a time a relationship that has the potential to damage lives. The slow nostalgic unwinding and free-ranging topics—from sub-continental politics of the pre-Independence era to a series of bomb blasts in Bengaluru and Delhi—add large doses of realism.
“Was there a time when I was a carefree, even careless person, looking forward to the future unafraid, wanting to try new things, unmindful of consequences; above all with a capacity to be happy without being afraid of being happy?”
Kevin, the gentle parson who initiates this interchange after decades of silence, is rather endearingly dull: the perfect counterfoil to bounce ideas off. The rather feisty Maya is ravaged by the sorrow of the death of her younger son and holds other forms of darkness within. There is a single-minded focus on her career as a writer and her various books make regular appearances in their conversations.
The epistolary is a tough format to handle and a certain inbuilt fatigue poses its own challenges. Lyrical and prosaic, this book is homage to another form of romance.