The Nine-Chambered Heart by Janice Pariat Review

the nine chambered heart

The Nine Chambered Heart

by Janice Pariat

The Nine-Chambered Heart by Janice Pariat received enormous praise from critics and book lovers on social media. The beautiful pink colour weird heart shapes on the cover further propel me to read this book. And after reading it, I discovered what enthralled the readers so much. Read on to know.

Story In Brief

The story is about a woman's love life. The men who came and went away, but none stayed. Right from her childhood, there were eight men and a woman for whom she developed soft feeling. Some of them she let go. A couple of them she wanted to hold on, but they slipped like sand from her fist and sad memories remain behind.

She and the rest of the characters are unnamed. So are the cities and countries. Only cats are christened. The protagonist love cats. 

What's So Special

You might think what so unique about this story. It is all about adultery, love coming and going and her adventure with them in bed.

The uniqueness lies in the presentation style. The author used a lesser used narrative technique. The protagonist's story was narrated by the lovers in her life. The story has been written from the second person point of view.

I have read most of the fiction in first or third person perspective. Before The Nine Chambered Heart, I have only heard about the second person narrative. The authors seldom use second person to narrate their stories.

How was the Experience?

To be honest, it felt different. Had the story written in first or third person perspective, it would have sounded ordinary and I wouldn't last long. Putting it away citing it as an adultery and an erotic novel.

But written in second person gave the story a novelty touch. A handful of jigsaw puzzles about the protagonist's life. An air of mystery surrounding characters, their names, city, country and time. Reading The Nine Chambered Heart was like a mental workout.  You have to be alert and thinking all the time. Putting together those precious pieces of information about the protagonist to form a complete picture.

The couple of chapters were my favourite. Like the first one, which was about the protagonist as a child with a crush on her teacher. It was a mind-blowing chapter. I loved it. The one about her female roommate was also good.


It was a completely different experience to know the protagonist through male characters. The way men perceive a woman. What men think about women. I think the author was almost on target.

Men of the story described the unnamed protagonist as fiercely free willed and complicated, sometimes mysterious as well. She just wants to flow as a river. And becomes restless when stuck in one place and relationship.

Some Ouch Moments!

I failed to understand exactly what the protagonist was searching in men. The author didn't voice her emotions exclusively. May be a chapter from her perspective would help understand her a little better. Men and women have different lens to see things.

Another remorse was the lack of variation. There are so many other relations between a man and a woman. Like that of siblings, father and daughter, grandfather and granddaughter, platonic relationship.

But the author chose to explore only one relationship of lovers. So after a point it became boring to read as it was all the same thing with all the men who come and go.

It is only the superb writing of the author which will incite and excite you to keep going, marveling and admiring all the time.

The Verdict

This book is not for everyone. Just like the author is seasoned and knows what she is writing. In the same way, only an avid reader exposed to various writing techniques could enjoy the book to the fullest.

If I try to put into words how I felt, then the author's supreme writing style amazed me the most.

But I failed to connect with the protagonist or her love life.

In spite of that I kind of like the book.

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