Book Review: Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma

Dating dr dil book review

Synopsis

Dating Dr. Dil features a love-phobic TV doctor who must convince a love-obsessed homebody they are destined to be together. 

Kareena Mann dreams of having a love story like her parents, but she prefers restoring her classic car to swiping right on dating apps. When her father announces he’s selling her mother’s home, Kareena makes a deal with him: he’ll gift her the house if she can get engaged in four months.

Her search for her soulmate becomes impossible when her argument with Dr. Prem Verma, host of The Dr. Dil Show, goes viral. Now the only man in her life is the one she doesn’t want.

Dr. Prem Verma is dedicated to building a local community health center, but he needs to get donors with deep pockets. The Dr. Dil Show was doing just that until his argument with Kareena went viral, and he’s left short-changed. That’s when Kareena’s meddling aunties presented him with a solution: convince Kareena he’s her soulmate and they’ll fund his clinic.  

Even though they have conflicting views on love-matches and arranged-matches, the more time Prem spends with Kareena, the more he begins to believe she’s the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. But for Prem and Kareena to find their happily ever after, they must admit that hate has turned into fate.

In Dating Dr. Dil, Nisha Sharma has written a clever retelling of The Taming Of The Shrew, which is my least favourite of Shakespeare’s plays—and with good reason! I could give an act-by-act synopsis, but that’s time-consuming and this would turn into a whole nerd-fest, so I’ll stick to the basics.

Katherine Minola, the “shrew” in question is the focus of the play. Her shrewishness makes her wholly unmanageable thus unmarriageable despite her large fortune. Petruchio, a narcissistic fortune-seeker and all-around mean-ass, decides to take on this burden: because inasmuch as Katherine is one hell of a problem, the wealth offered is too much to pass up.

He then begins his project to “tame” her. He doesn’t give her food, throws away her pretty dresses, orders the servants of his house to treat her poorly, and, in general, does everything necessary to break her spirit.

There’s a little scene towards the end where he hedges a bet with some acquaintances to determine whose wife is more subservient. And, although the acquaintances married well-bred wives that had been taught all the doctrines of marriage, Petruchio wins the bet, and Katherine, formerly shrewd but now pious, delivers a speech advising women to be more subservient.

Throughout the play, it is quite evident that the female characters are permanently tethered to the male figures in their lives. In this way, a woman existed either under her husband, her father or was sent to a convent to live out her days.

They were treated as commodities and the whole marriage agreement between the males can easily be likened to a sale of goods agreement. That’s disgusting in and of itself, but, sadly, was and still is the reality of marriages in many parts of the world.

Onto the premise of the book: Prem, the male protagonist, doesn’t believe in love as the foundation of any long-lasting relationship, and says as much on his web show, Dr. Dil; Kareena, the female protagonist, is disenchanted with her life, family, and is quite desperate to save her family home.

She believes that love is what keeps a home together and sustains a life-long partnership like marriage. They butt heads and after an almost wild night—Prem had an emergency call and ran off while she was still taking off her vest—they couldn’t disagree more.

Soon, they find themselves in each other’s company and when Prem suggests a fake relationship so they can appease the spectators on both sides of the divide, Kareena shuts down that shit fast. Here’s the thing: Kareena needs to be engaged before her younger sister’s wedding so that she can access her marriage fund and stop her dad from selling her childhood home, but she is averse to a fake relationship. Make it make sense??

Soon enough, Prem is tracking her across town—and beyond even—to convince her but in true form, she’s downright nasty to him at every turn. Of course, they eventually get on the same page, come to a settlement, and live happily ever after.

Some may argue that this was shrewish behavior, but I don’t agree with that. For one, Kareena is wholly unreasonable throughout the book, and even when they come to a resolution, she never apologizes for her actions. Katherine, the original shrew, acted that way in defiance of her father’s blatant misogyny and the proprietary behavior of all the males in her circle. She’s laughed at and ridiculed by basically every character in the story for what I see to be a quite logical response to their tomfoolery.

Kareena is ill-mannered, rude, and generally overly sentimental. She talks a whole lot, but for the doing, sadly, falls short. She complained about any and everything and was all too ready to attack Prem—physically, too, in one instance. Definitely not funny.

Prem was not without faults as well. Towards the end, he calls her younger sister a bitch and even cusses at her dad—who promptly lunges at him. His refusal to declare his love was groundless, irksome, and not cute like I’m sure the author intended. He was cowardly and was ready to make Kareena lower her expectations in order to suit his purposes.

There were too many things going on at once in this book. The fake relationship never did happen—if it did, it must have occurred in one of the many paragraphs I skipped. There was a lot of filler and for a book almost 300-pages long, I expected something better.  This is not to say that this book is bad, but I had bigger expectations after reading Radha and Jai’s Recipe For Romance by the very same author.

I like books with characters with very large involved families—probably because I come from one as well. They’re always messy and chaotic and I love every minute of it! Inasmuch as the author tried to depict the South-Asian societal bonds here, in my opinion, it fell through. The aunties that are likened to Shakespeare in the series’ title are cardboard characters and seemed bent on contradicting themselves at every turn. A rather fresh take on Taming Of The Shrew, but not the best out there.

LikesDislikes
1. Large family1. Chaotic plot.
2. Retelling2. Annoying female protagonist.
3. Drawn-out and watered-down plot

Recommended if:
1. You like South-Asian romance novels.
2. You like books with middle-aged characters.
3. You like retellings.

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