The Company of Women by Khushwant Singh: A Review

This book came to me in a rather strange manner. My friend accidentally ordered two copies and knowing how much of a book nerd I am, offered the extra copy to me. (Thank you, M)

I was delighted! After all who can say no to such a serendipitous finding. And then I read it.

Like the cover, the plot of the book is also erotic. In fact my first impression after reading the blurb at the back was that this is the product of an octogenarian man’s overactive libidinous imagination. At the beginning of the book, the author’s note mentions:

 “As a man gets older, his sex instincts travel from his middle to his head. What he wanted to do in his younger days but did not because of nervousness, lack of response or opportunity, he does in his mind.”

And true that is as I found myself endlessly embroiled in and fascinated by Mohan Kumar’s colorful sexual experiences told alternately in first and second person. It was an addictive read and I found it harder and harder to put the book down more due to my voyeuristic tendencies rather than the author’s literary magnetism.

What emerges from this sexual memoir of sorts is also a commentary on modern day relationships and some acrid truths about marriage. He goes on to make bold statements, not very unlike his usual style like “a married woman is able to smell her husbands infidelities whereas a married man is so self-absorbed that his wife could cuckold him for years without his knowledge.” His view of marriage is a mostly bitter one, with more faith in the bodily urges than in attachments of the heart.

The female characters in his book are well-rounded and almost believable with realistic depiction and appreciation of female sensuality in all its forms (and sizes). Some sexual trends that are depicted like older male relatives introducing young girls to sex is a very rampant cultural phenomena in the country. But other themes like the constant mention of the size of his member and women’s fascination with the same was rather unnecessary and left a bitter aftertaste on the tongue.

The tumultuous relationship he shares with his cold, nagging wife stirs sadness but falls short in being evocative and rather comes across as an excuse for the deviant behavior that follows.

Singh’s talent as a writer showcases itself in brief spurts but after establishing himself as a writer, the need to write a feeble attempt at erotica with this book is hard to not attribute to senility over creative genius.

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8 thoughts on “The Company of Women by Khushwant Singh: A Review

  1. I love reading book reviews by various authors. I will read several before selecting my next read. I am looking forward to picking one of your reviewed books up to add to my collection.

    1. Definitely! I read a lot but never wrote reviews until very recently. Hope you find something you like 🙂 Also do let me know in case of book suggestions. Thanks!

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