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Book review: Beauty Queens of Bishan

05 Feb 2020 / 09:53 H.

THIS is a story about rivalry and fighting inner insecurities, told in a light-hearted manner.

The story follows several main characters and it may get a bit confusing at times as each one of them has their own issues.

Things only get interesting midway through the book when a beauty contest brings all of them together under one roof.

The story begins in the heart of the Bishan area in Singapore, which is surrounded by low cost flats.

Here beauty parlours catering to the lower to middle class thrive, and have yet to face any real problems, that is until April Chua, a failed actress opens her salon D’Asthetique.

Hoping to attract upmarket clients through her association with one-time popular actress turned social media influencer Candy Kang, April frowns at the sight of plump Gurpreet Kaur who owns Monty Beauty Spa.

April and Gurpreet, who initially try to be cordial (even sharing an assistant called Lakshmi), end up having a huge argument that ends with them betting their businesses at the prestigious Grand Glam Singapore Beauty contest.

April is naturally banking on the hugely popular Candy who is a shoo-in to win while Gurpreet is banking on Tara, a lawyer who is trying to win over her twin teenage daughters who happen to be Candy fans.

The story makes for light reading but has some depth.

The problems that the central characters face are something most women have gone through at some point in their lives.

There are no real villains here, just women who are desperate to carve out their place in their world.

The issues of skin colour, race, concept of beauty and being comfortable in your own skin is handled well by the author Akshita Nanda.

The first half of the book is essentially an overly long introduction, while in the second half, when the beauty competition plotline actually comes into play, is when the story really pulls you in.

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