Monday 1 July 2019

Book Review: Insta Women #BlogchatterEbook

Robert Browning, the famous Victorian poet popularized dramatic monologues. I remember reading Porphyria's Lover by Browning in my post graduation and getting totally enthralled by it. So, when I came across the book Insta Women written by Nupur Maskara whose subtitle says dramatic monologues by drama queens, I knew I have to read this one. And I am glad I picked the book. 


Insta Women is a collection of dramatic monologues by famous women written by Nupur Maskara. The book is divided into 6 sections:
  • Indian Queens with Steam
  • Herstorical Women
  • Feisty Feminist
  • Working Women with Verve
  • Sassy Sports Women
  • Artistes who lived their art
I enjoyed reading each section because it was a pleasure to come across some wonderful women from mythology, history, art, sports, and science who have shaped our worldview and status as women today.

Detailed Analysis

The book starts with one of my favorite characters, Draupadi's monologue. This is the only monologue in the book that is written in rhymed lines. The rest of the monologues are written in free verse. The bold monologue shows Draupadi's rage and sarcasm. I loved the lines when she says:

"Karna calls me characterless for having five
husbands. Did I ask for them, that bee-hive?"

The next poem that I liked in the Indian Queens section is Noorjahan's monologue. It beautifully shows the pain, rage, strength, and vulnerability of the charismatic queen. I liked the way Noorjahan ended her monologue by the following lines:

"Finally, a lady of leisure
Architecture gave me pleasure
My monuments are my legacies
They don't let me down
Unlike miserable men."

I also enjoyed reading the monologues of Hazrat Mahal and Bandit Queen. In the next section called "Herstorical women", there were monologues by Theodore, empress of Eastern Roman empire, Nzinga of Angola, and Khutulun, the Mongol warrior princess. 

The author has researched about each woman and portrayed their story in such a way that it felt the historical characters are right in front of me, talking to me and motivating me. Kudos to the author for blending history and poetry with such ease. 

The third section called "Feisty Feminists" is undoubtedly my favourite. The women in this section talk about how much they struggled to give women the status of equality. The monologues are about their battle to get women the right to vote, the right to hold property, and the right to get custody. This section has powerful monologues by feminists such as author Caroline Norton, Ernestine Rose, Susan Anthony, Betty Freiden, and Gloria Steinem. 

Quoting some lines from the monologue by Ernestine Rose:

"Life and death
Pleasure and Pain
Recognize no sex."

Lucy Stone's assertiveness is rightly portrayed in the following lines:

"I refused to pay tax
Till I could vote:

"Women today will never know
At what price their right to free speech
Has been earned."

The fourth section is about monologues of working women who had to struggle due to their gender. Agnodice, the physician had to disguise as a man because the law did not allow women to practice medicine. Mary Lyon, the educationist opened a school for girls where author Emily Dickinson studied. Emmy Nother, the mathematician kept on excelling in maths although it was considered un-ladylike.

The fifth section is about monologues of sportswomen like Annie Edson Taylor and Marie Marvingt. The sixth section is about monologues of artists such as Artemesia Gentileschi, the painter and Mademoiselle La Maupin, the opera maestro. I loved the following lines spoken by Artemesia Gentileschi:

"I chose to paint women
Someone had to
A man wasn't going to show us
The way we were. would he?"

Final Words

I absolutely enjoyed reading the book. Knowing about the fascinating and courageous stories of such powerful women was indeed a treat. It also made me realize how much the woman of the past had fought for our liberty and equality. We should never take it for granted. I loved the author's choice and command of her subject. The poems flowed effortlessly, pulling me deep within each monologue. Highly recommended to every woman! Read it whenever you feel low or need some motivation in life. 

Insta Women is like watching a theatre where the characters come alive in front of you, luring you to enter their fascinating world. 

The book review has been written as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program

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