This is my first time with the Foxy 4 and I have to admit I’m charmed. Even if we know some major and minor tweaking has been in play to render matters politically correct. The thing is, it doesn’t show.
Well-written, racy and engaging, Subhadra Sen Gupta does a grand job of keeping the voices of her protagonists authentic even as she helps them spin some pretty exciting yarns.
Foxy Foursome is not a new title; the book was published in 2014. Therefore, it’s likely many of you would have already met the four Foxy girls: Charu Roy Chaudhuri, Padmaja Mani, Mandeep Ahuja and Jahanara Khan, all seventeen, and studying in Class Twelve at St Teresa Convent in Delhi. They are roomies in the hostel and, as Charu says, they “really are BFF till we die”. Charu and Mandy are in the humanities stream, Padma and Jahan in the sciences.
Each one is her own personality with her own dreams and aspirations. Charu wants to be a “really famous writer, wear dangly earrings, ethnic kurtas, dark brown lipstick, stick up my hair with wooden hair pins and look, you know… intellectual”. Jahan “was named after a Mughal princess! Parents can be such freaks when it comes to naming their children”. She is 5’9” and dreams of going to the Olympics. Mandy dreams of being a fashion model and/or film star; her immediate dream is “to get her photo on a magazine cover and have a zillion fans on Facebook. Right now, her FB fans are stuck at the weird number of 63”. Padma is a computer nerd, “she went into a serious funk when Steve Jobs died. The day her parents bought her a laptop, she danced down the school driveway singing at the top of her voice”.
This book germinates from a simple question that Padma poses to Charu: “How come you’re the only one who writes the books?” When Charu responds with “Because I’m the only one who can write!”, it triggers an instantaneous reaction which leads to each one rising to the challenge to prove Charu wrong. Jahan decides to write about an adventure they had at their family haveli in Bhopal, Padma wants to do a story about her stay at a dance school in Chennai and all that happened to her friend Vijayan there, and Mandy decides to tell the story of Kajari, the daughter of their school office peon, Netramani. Charu’s story is tied up with Durga Puja celebrations in Old Delhi.
With Charu looking over their shoulders – she’s the aspiring writer, remember – the girls present their long short stories. Subhadra Sen Gupta’s deft touch gives the stories a sense of continuity so that they all seem somehow connected, and not just because the four girls feature in all of them. At one shot, too, we get a taste of different cultures, experiences and flavours – and depending upon which combination the reader is most familiar or comfortable with, that story will resonate to a greater or lesser degree.
Overall, the writing is natural and easy and believable. It offers more than just adventure, especially for those who read more into the book. More than that, at the end of the day, it’s fun. There’s no sense of guilt or questioning about whom the stories are about and whom they’re written for. It’s a good read, and it makes you look forward to hearing more from and about the Foxy 4.
I know that I will look for Double Click! and Star Struck! and read them – these are the earlier books featuring the intrepid foursome; and look forward to more about them.
By Sandhya Rao
Author: Subhadra Sen Gupta
Young Zubaan, 2014
Subject Category: Contemporary/Fiction/Young Adult