It’s hard to label Jaishree Misra. After her well-received historical novel Rani, based on the life of Rani Lakshmi Bai, Misra offers readers Secrets & Lies — a novel slotted into the mystery/thriller genre. It’s gripping alright, but there’s also an underlying theme of female friendship running through the book.
Misra concurs, “I’ll admit Secrets & Lies started off as a whodunnit…but the book moved away from that genre very swiftly…It’s very definitely a celebration of female friendship, something I believe is a very nourishing force in most women’s lives.”
The novel follows the lives of Sam, Zeba, Bubbles and Anita, schooltime friends who’ve been haunted by a secret for twenty years, one that has had ramifications in their adult lives as well. That secret revolves around the unsolved murder of 16-year-old, Lily, and the truth could could be life-changing.
As someone who’s made a switch from the ‘literary’ genre to a book with ‘popular’ appeal, Misra says, “Broadly speaking, literary fiction focuses more on style while popular commercial fiction has much stronger emphasis on story and narrative. As a consequence, literary fiction is more demanding of the reader. On the other hand, commercial fiction sells better and gets read by a wider range of people. So canny publishers make sure their lists contain a healthy mix of both sorts of writers.”