Book Review

Fall like a rose petal by AVIS Viswanathan

Fall like a rose petal“, what a catchy title! I really wanted to like this book.

As an entrepreneur myself who in the years after the recession of 2008-09, had gone through a few years of handling bank debts, the story of an entrepreneur who was battling on business debt attracted me. When we read in the media about the huge start up successes, we never get to see the hundreds of failures and closures for each success. We glamorize running a business, but nothing can be harder than to run a small business in India (I have written a few posts on this subject). An appreciation is due to the author for opening up about the toughest chapters of his life & sharing it in the public, it requires a lot of courage and conviction.

The style of the book impressed me, it was in the form of letters from a father to his son and daughter about how he and their mom handled the tough years. The couple were in the business of strategic reputation consulting and training, things were going well, and they had the big brands in India as their clients. Hoping to capitalise, they went big, expanded their business beyond their means, then suddenly their biggest client gave them an ultimatum. To keep the business afloat, they started borrowing from banks, clients, friends, family and even from moneylenders. This meant they lost the support system that we have around us to get through our dark times.

Having gone bankrupt, meeting monthly family expenses itself turned a struggle. They had seen personal humiliation, got dragged to police station, threatened by goons, being penniless for months and being viewed as cheats by their own parents & siblings.

The random chronology of the letters made the initial chapters quite engaging. But soon the writing became tiring and confusing; Are the couple doing well? Was the worst over? I was unable to follow the story and the events. The letters became longer, for example Chapter 10 was over fifty pages long, losing my attention in the midway. Even as I was nearing the end of the book, I was not clear on what led them to their current financial state? How are they managing to keep afloat? The author keeps raising these questions, but doesn’t provide answers directly, instead he writes in a convoluted way of being helped by karma, the universe paying back, kindness around us, prayers and so on. To me, an entrepreneurship book feels out of place for personal beliefs.

Also, the author failed to convince me on his side of the story, it felt like he was not telling the full story. Though he tries hard to hide it, he keeps blaming everyone around him for the failures, except himself. Any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you that his/her failures in the business to be always because of their own mistakes, the environment was just a trigger, and not the root cause.

As the book progressed, I was jumping between the lines and paragraphs as the prose became repetitive and preachy (which I hate) and I could not wait to put it down. Had the text been tightened, the fluff, dramatics & the theatre removed, the story told in plain words, the book could have turned out to be an informative read. As it is now, I am unable to recommend it.

Fall like a rose petal by AVIS Viswanathan
Fall like a rose petal by AVIS Viswanathan

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