Whatever your take on book-to-screen adaptations, they have one sure benefit: The hype can bring hitherto overlooked books to mainstream attention.
The latest case in point: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach, first published as These Foolish Things in 2004. Thanks to its star-studded movie adaptation, this novel has been given a new lease of life.
British Indian doctor, Dr Ravi Kapoor, is being driven up the bend by his English father-in-law. A chain smoker and Bacardi swiller, Norman has come to stay after being kicked out of his latest residential home for "putting his hand up a nurse's skirt".
In despair, Ravi shares his troubles with Sonny, a visiting cousin from India. Ever the intrepid businessman, Sonny comes up with the idea of opening a retirement home in India for British senior citizens - including, of course, Ravi's lascivious father-in-law.
A former colonial bungalow, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is marketed as a posh slice of England, albeit with sunny weather, exotic flora and fauna, and a highly favourable exchange rate.
In less capable hands, the story could have turned out to be a trite tale of western folk finding salvation in that mythical brand of eastern spirituality borne of squalor.
Instead, Moggach's novel is a brilliantly executed observation of the modern world in an age of globalisation, and how people - old and otherwise, Indian and British, rich and poor - attempt to navigate it. Through her characters, Moggach paints moving yet unsentimental portraits of India and England.
At the heart of the story lies an exploration of the complexity of human relationships. The pensioners who come to populate the hotel are largely alone, and struggle with feelings of abandonment even as they settle into their new home: The children of recent widow Evelyn Greenslade live in different cities, each busy with their own lives. Muriel Donnelly, a stubborn woman who lives in a crumbling English neighbourhood, transplants herself to India in an attempt to find her son, who is on the run because of shady commercial undertakings.
With engaging characters, vividly described backdrops, and plenty of insightful observations, the novel creates a tapestry of a world where physical distance is becoming increasingly irrelevant even as divides grow more rapidly than ever.
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