Art is a tough mistress. Exacting. Unforgiving. But beautiful and tantalising, all the same. When applied to best-selling author Anita Nair’s latest novel Mistress. these truths prove double-edged, yet true as steel….. those who have read it will mull over issues inherent between its covers. Set in Kerala, spanning 90 years, Nair’s third novel explores the depths of relationships while, in a parallel strand, it unravels the skeins that weave together a life in art…. As the turbulent eddies of life surround the protagonists, we are plunged into a multi-pronged narrative ? where the navarasas dictate the mood of each segment, where the main characters offer first-person slants on the evolving plot,? where myths are vigorously retold with local colour, where the artist and his art tussle for an equitable balance.?It is a formula that seems bound for literary magic. To me, Nair’s narrative powers and mastery of minutiae remain her forte… this novel proves she is conscious of the trivialisation of art, a mistress who accepts no compromises.