Book review: Operation Lipstick

But the first few pages make you realise that, the proverb ‘never judge a book by its cover’ suits this one better. The story is about a war correspondent Anna Sanderson who comes to Afghanistan from London. Her search isn’t for that breaking wartime story. Instead, she is in on the lookout for a suitable boyfriend or husband. And when she gets time off from her sex-and-drink breaks, she files stories for her London-based news channel.

Operation Lipstick, Pia Heikkila, Ebury Press Random House India, Rs 250

Anna’s revenge plot unveils when her best friend Kelly discovers that her boyfriend, Rich has been cheating on her, and Anna figures a cobweb of murky details about the man she loves. Apparently, Kelly likes her lipstick, so does Anna; hence, the title. Reading the book would make you believe that the life of correspondents in war-torn Afghanistan is charming, and perhaps a shade better than those middle class sagas that roll out of Mumbai, everyday. But in Afghanistan, this reporter attends a party almost every day, making one wonder whether the protagonist is based in Kabul or in LA.

Of the 287 pages, more than 200 are dedicated to the never ending search of Anna for a perfect man, or for Mr Right or D, she finds him in the first 10 pages but keeps losing him for a questionably long time. Fifty pages of the book talks about a mystery where she gets kidnapped, by the ‘Taliban’ who allow her to roam in the palace, use scented soaps for bath in a bath tub, all this while she’s in captivity. Towards the end, Anna’s dream man (Mr Right) rescues her and two other friends (Tim and Kelly) from the Taliban and the rest of the people she was chasing (Taliban and Rich) run away to different countries. As much as we were on a roll with Anna’s antics, a more meatier character for the protagonist would have given her role more spunk and belief. Don’t go expecting an embattled chronicle by a hard-core woman journalist, and you’ll be fine.

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