Marriage, especially where a woman is trapped in it has made an interesting premise for novels world over. The runaway success novel Eat, Pray, Love had a protagonist struggling to get out of a stormy marriage. Back home, Shashi Desphande's Sahitya Academy winning That Long Silence wonderfully charted the less ups and more downs of an Indian married woman. Pakistani writer Nadya A. R's Invisible Ties wagers in the similar waters, albeit unsuccessfully.
This is story of Noor, who hails from an elite family in Pakistan. The internal disturbances in Pakistan hit her threshold when a gang of hoodlums ransack her house, and kidnap Daisy, Noor's mother. Though Daisy returns Noor's life changes forever. Noor marries Meekal Kalim. Its an arranged marriage and lands up in Singapore. Her husband and sharp tongued mother-in-law keep a distance from her. Unfortunately while reading the novel, I felt all the characters were keeping a distance not only from each other but also from the readers and were crushed under the verbose descriptions and insipid dialogues.
So Noor studies Psychotherapy in Singapore and befriends Ella, her neighbour, who is unwilling to have a child but wants to have one to save her sinking marriage. Ella introduces Noor to Jake, who is struggling with his past and needs some counselling.
From the aforesaid premise it is clear that Invisible Ties had all the elements of a good novel. But the narrative mars the novel. The complex language holds back the characters from taking any shape and make them appear like aliens from another planet altogether. The result is evident – you don't feel anything for any of the characters including Noor. This unintended detachment transforms this novel which otherwise would have been a good novel, if not best, into a boring trip undertaken to satisfy the idiosyncrasies of the author.