Book Review: Seventy and to hell with it!

A story of relationship between love, betrayal, truth and lies

Shobhaa De is an Indian columnist and novelist. She is referred to as the Jackie Collins of India for her explicit depiction of socialites and sex in her works of fiction.

Her novel ‘Seventy and to hell with it’ is a compilation of interesting anecdotes from her life. The whole book is like a journal with advice for the reader on trivial issues and the lessons she has learnt from her own personal experiences.

The book is written in a precise and crisp manner. It is different from the typical fiction and is more of a biography mixed with an element of story-telling.

In her novel, Shobhaa De touches upon many truths and realities of life.

One of the factors, age is a major concern in her novel:

“It’s important to be realistic and self-critical in life. It’s equally important to remain upbeat and positive about the inevitable. Age is one of them.”

She talks of her physical ageing where her needs have now become different. She now needs her spectacles and vitamins, a comfortable attire and soft shoes rather than trendy outfits or stiletto heels as in her youth. She talks of how her toenails reflect her age and how the functioning of her mind has altered as well. Age affects everything – emotions, appearance and lifestyle.

She brings up the issue of generation gap. How her children want their own privacy, their own space. She also talks of the issues of the young generation such as drug addiction, depression issue which were considered a taboo in their times. She notes how her youth was so different from that of her children. And as parents the need to accept this role reversal is important. It is significant to be understood, for acceptance takes away most of the problems and worries. She points out how important it is to stand by your children through tough times. She says:

“Don’t abandon your child emotionally and withdraw love. It’s the worse abandonment on earth.”

For here she moves onto a much bigger issue. The world of the social media. It can make and break your life. It can be devastating and liberating at the same time. The peril of social media is a big one. And so she advises to keep it at bay.

From her take on a small personal issue, she moves onto larger, more political issues such as the image of India as seen by the rest of the world – “a nanga bhooka India”.

Foreigners eye India as a land of snake charmers, sadhus, elephants and tigers.

Nobody knows that India is the fastest-emerging global superpower. That it has some of the most prominent figures in the world. The prejudice against India is strong.

But Shobhaa De sees India from her own eyes and that shows a different picture. To her India is the land of colours, of charming women and exciting festivals. To her India is beautiful! Yes she says she hates the politicians, but she loves the common citizens of India.

She then narrates her journey of bringing forward her book to the world.

She tells the reader how publishing a book is now related more to marketing than to your writing material. What sells in the market is what is required of the author. And she experienced this with some of her books:

“I look back at some of my books and think I would have written a different book. I am not saying a better book nor am I saying a more saleable book. Just a very different book.”

Through this episode she points out to a very bitter reality. Money matters more than content. What’s hot is what will market. Harsh but hundred percent accurate.

The book is not preachy but it does offer small insights of wisdom from a person who has seen life in its entirety.

A review I read about the book goes as: “A perfect combination of boldness and elegance, her latest is somewhat like her candid, vociferous, brutally honest; capable of influencing many a point of views and social fabric of the country.”

The book ends with Shobha De accepting the title of being a ‘kaarthi’. A ‘kaarthi’ is a rebellious female, an annoying brat. And Shobhaa De accepts this title wholeheartedly.

Beenish Mahmood has a double Master's in English Literature with almost a decade of experience in magazine journalism. She is passionate about South Asian Fiction and environmental issues. She can be reached through email at