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Bitter Sweets

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,477 Ratings  ·  204 Reviews
Shona Karim is in love. When she first sets eyes on Parvez at the age of ten, she knows he is the man of her dreams. Just like her father - tricked into marriage by her shamelessly deceitful mother - she is a hopeless romantic. Years later, lying to themselves and their families, the young lovers elope to start a new life above a sweet shop in south London.

But Shona's inhe
Paperback, 300 pages
Published August 3rd 2008 by Pan Publishing (first published January 1st 2007)
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Mar 26, 2009 DMD rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed in this book. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more had I not read better South Asian immigrant culture books. The book jacket claims that the lies a 13 year old illiterate tells to marry up shakes the foundations of the family in the next generations. In actuality, that could have been left out of the book altogether. It felt like the author was trying to throw all kinds of drama into the lives of this family, though you didn't really care about any of them even though they to ...more
Blake Fraina
Sep 10, 2011 Blake Fraina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roopa Farooki’s delightful confection of a book tells the story of three generations of a family of deceivers. Despite their many peccadilloes – sloth, dishonesty, infidelity and bigamy chief among them – Farooki has created a colourful and loveable bunch of characters that are a complete joy to get to know.

The novel starts with the marriage, under false pretenses, of Henna Rub, an underaged Bengladeshi shopkeeper’s daughter, into the established landowning family of Ricky-Rashid and ends (some
Oct 28, 2015 Ana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
De uma foram muito engraçada vamos assistir a uma saga familiar onde impera a mentira. Durante três gerações esta família vai vivendo mentiras sucessivas que vão condicionar as gerações futuras. E só a verdade vai conseguir estabelecer a harmonia familiar desenrolando esta teia que foi sendo tecida durante mais de 50 anos.
Apr 20, 2009 Betita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: emprestado
Esta é uma história sobre o poder da mentira em nome do Amor.
Começamos logo com uma grande mentira e a partir daí é formada uma teia que passa de geração em geração influenciando assim os trilhos da vida de cada membro da familia. São mais de 50 anos vividos sempre em mentira, o que faz com que a certa altura os próprios personagens nem saibam muito bem qual é a realidade em que vivem, passando eles mesmos a encobrir as mentiras uns dos outros para poderem camuflar as mentiras de cada um.
Apr 18, 2012 Charlotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone over the age of 16
Shelves: favourites
After reading through some of the more negative reviews on here, I feel like I am one of the only people who really loved this book so much that I found it almost impossible to put down. I've even added it to my favourites list.

I can see how some people may not get into Farooki's style of writing; it is a sort of montage style, which means that it almost flicks quickly between the lives of several people, and then links them all together somehow. However, I really like this style. It's something
Sep 29, 2012 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(really 3.5 stars)

Interesting (although not gripping) narrative of three generations of a Bangladeshi/Pakistani family whose entire lives are based on lies. The story runs from the initial arranged marriage based on trickery to the suspicious birth of a daughter, to that daughter's own lies and dissembling from girlhood to middle age, to her sons' deceptions and hidden truths, all the while everyone telling themselves that the lies are necessary to keep the family together. Eventually all lies a
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dannielle Buckley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I enjoyed the beginning of this book. I felt it had so much potential. However as it continued it became more boring and more preachy. I had less sympathy for the character actions, I just found myself asking why are you doing that?! Poor communication between the characters was just frustrating. And somehow it ended perfectly for everyone?! The character's were so dysfunctional, how is it possible that everything was resolved by confessing a few secrets and then hugging. It was so unrealistic. ...more
Apr 20, 2015 Louise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
Found this mildly entertaining - nothing at all like other novels I have read about India. The story could have been set in any number of places and only the first part gave insight into the norms which prevail in Indian society.
Dora Okeyo
Jul 11, 2014 Dora Okeyo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this books more like a lollipop- you know those big ones with gum at the middle? Yes, something like that, and I could have sworn some part of me almost gave into this book- but I showed restraint courtesy of one character's - Shona- decision to start by telling the truth.
Forget the blurb (you can read it online or on the book cover) and simply think of three generations of lies!

One white lie is quite a chore, now imagine three generations of lies and that's what this book is about.
It fo
Jan 06, 2016 Kate rated it liked it
Roopa Farooki's Bitter Sweet was a perfect holiday read, the tangled family with all the face saving lies really drew me in. The characters rang true, I have met many such Southeast Asians and Pakistani people in my work and have a glimmer of understanding about the importance of status etc that this book is based around. As well as the change being immersed in different locations means to tradition and family structure. I like the innuendo and interplay between genetics, language and intuition. ...more
I have read a few different books that follow along the 'Indian' heritage and Bitter Sweets sits somewhere right in the middle. The story line was interesting; there was the arranged marriage that apparently has to be present in every Indian book and a story that follows along three generations.

I think that Roopa did a good job of transition from one perspective to another; she wrote the grandmother all the way to Dermont quite convincingly. The main thing that annoyed me is how all the Pakastan
Paula Sealey
Aug 24, 2009 Paula Sealey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 04, 2009 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It was like a smoldering fire that just kept getting hotter with every chapter. It didn't matter to me whether the characters with Bangladeshi Muslim or Irish Catholic - I could relate to the cast within my own extended American family with intimacy and connection. The themes of love, deceit, desire and happiness reach across continents and cultures and this book reminded me of how very similar we all are.
Jul 17, 2009 Celeste rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although the back cover classifies this as an Indian saga, to me it was more of a London story. I enjoyed the phrases and "accents" that I could place in England or that I had experienced in conversations with my own friends who were immigrants from India and Pakistan. I really liked all of the characters, and I wanted to know what was happening with each one-the book is easy to read and I think it is a wonderful first novel.
Jun 24, 2014 Lola rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book wasn't bad but my problem with it was how by the end everything was all neatly wrapped up with a little bow on top! Some of the massive secrets that various members of the family had been keeping don't seem to have any consequences at all. The author doesn't delve into the aftermath that such shocking revelations can bring because there is no aftermath! In reality things would not have ended the way the book does and it would've done it more justice by acknowledging that fact.

All in all
Jan 27, 2014 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bangladesh
I've never given a book such a low rating. Although the book was not poorly written the story was so "over the top" - everything that could go wrong did, until everything that could go right suddenly occurred. Story line is interesting - arranged marriage in the newly formed Bangladesh of an educated young man and a very young girl - tho he and family "pretend" to not know how young she is. From this marriage come a series of adventures and misadventures in Pakistan and Britain. Of slight intere ...more
Oct 24, 2009 Marvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nithya Garg
Sep 12, 2013 Nithya Garg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was the most life shattering novel I have ever read in my life. Never have I ever experienced as much turmoil and struggle in a novel before. I am amazed by the authors ability to weave such a complex and fantastical plot so well and continue to make my jaw drop till the last page. The writing was captivating and absolutely mesmerizing. While I believe this circumstance is extremely fabricated and nothing like this could possibly all happen to one person ( I hope not at least), she mad ...more
Azira Zainuddin
Jan 16, 2012 Azira Zainuddin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Penipuan adalah sesuatu yang sangat merbahaya. Penipuan kali pertama akan disusuli dengan penipuan kali kedua untuk menutup penipuan kali pertama. And the cycle will go on until it is decided that we should come clean.

Bitter sweet mengisahkan tentang seorang remaja perempuan yang bercita-cita untuk menjadi seorang pelakon telah dipaksa untuk berkahwin oleh keluarganya. Memandangkan bakal suaminya memberikan dia peluang untuk menghampiri cita-citanya, dia bersetuju untuk berkahwin dengan sedikit
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Beth Dean
Dec 17, 2014 Beth Dean rated it really liked it
This book opened my eyes, some books just do and this is one of them. It touched on all kinds of love, showed it truthfully, it's not black and white, sometimes it's not clear who should be with who. Whether it's right to stay with a man who you were in love with for so long just because you don't want to mess up the children you secretly already beleive you have already messed up. Or to seperate from your loveless marriage to find a person who actually loves you now and not an image of the past ...more
Aug 23, 2009 Renee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay. Here's the thing. I'm going to put it up front: I don't like lies. And the book tells you up front that it's a book about lies built on lies. So, shame on me for reading it.

Was this book decently written? Yes. Was this book an interesting cultural story? Yes. Did this book make me want to move to England? Yes. Which is why it got 3 stars. But, did I like it? No.

This is the sort of story that make me want to enter the story to smack people! I just hate it when relationships go horribly awry
2008 bookcrossing journal:

To be honest I was disappointed by this book. In itself it wasnt that bad a book. I mean, I read it in a few days and I think it makes fantastic light holiday family saga reading. Its just that I had been expecting a lot more from it. Id heard reviews ages ago that this book was fantastic, and had (in my head) set it with a lot of other books from Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani writers - especially those with themes of families relocating to the west and struggling with t
[The review below was originally posted on my blog]

Bitter Sweets is a novel that questions the value of honesty. Does the truth really bring more pain than a kindly meant fabrication? In order to find an answer to that, we are presented with protagonists who only know how to survive by lying. Shona, the kind-hearted daughter, beloved wife, supportive mother, is the one keeping the family together. And she's also an expert in faking:

"Golden Shona had been conceived with a lie, and was born in a l
Apr 25, 2011 Anne rated it really liked it
'Bitter Sweets' is Roopa Farooki's debut novel, published in 2007. I read her most recent book last year and somehow this one has stayed overlooked on my shelf until now.
I have really enjoyed the last couple of days spent with this quirky, mixed-up Bangledeshi family made up of duplicitous characters who lie and cheat their way through life, but in a way that makes the reader empathise with them and understand just why they do it. With the exception of Henna Rub - the matriach character of the
May 02, 2008 Pam rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
RATING: 4.5/B+
GENRE/PUB DATE/# OF PGS: Fiction/2007/354 pgs
TIME/PLACE: India/Pakistan/England / 1950's - 1990's ?
CHARACTERS: Shona Karim/ only daughter of Henna & Ricky-Rashid; Parvez/ her husband
FIRST LINES: Henna was 13 when whe was gleefully married off to the eldest son of one of the best families in Calcutta, & her marriage was achieved by an audacious network of lies as elaborate & brazen as t
It was a quick read. It was very soap opera-y with lots of delicate twists, turns and difficult to believe coincidences in the plot. The writer was a little clumsy and haphazard. For example, there is lots of emphasis put on names, naming things etc. The characters spend a lot of time discussing names...who knows why really. All of these instances were overly obvious and then totally forgotten in the end. The main plot revolves around lying, necessary lying and frivolous lying etc.

I know this r
Oct 26, 2008 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki. The theme of the novel is how lies people tell throughout their lives can create a very tangled web that ultimately affects so many other people in dangerous and negative ways. Granted, the lies that are told by the characters in this novel are whoppers ... they're definitely not little white lies.

Set in Bangladesh and also in an immigrant community in London, I did enjoy the sense of place this novel portrayed. While the story is mainly about a Banglad
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Roopa was brought up in London and graduated from New College in Oxford in 1995. She worked in advertising and it 2004 quit to write full time. She now lives in south east London and south west France with her husband and two sons. Bitter Sweets is her first novel and in 2007 it was nominated for the Orange Award for New Writer.

Her second novel, Corner Shop was released in October 2008 and her t
More about Roopa Farooki...

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