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A Good Indian Wife

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  2,503 ratings  ·  341 reviews
Handsome anesthesiologist Neel prides himself on his decisiveness, both in and out of the operating room. So when he agrees to return to India to visit his ailing grandfather, he is sure he’ll be able to resist his family’s pleas that he marry a “good” Indian girl. With a girlfriend and a promising career back in San Francisco, the last thing Neel needs is an arranged marr ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Ms. Jen
If this book is considered a light summer read, then I give it 4 four points for a tale of 1980s immigrants struggling to figure out to which culture they belong, with a bit of a love-ish story thrown in. If a light summer read, then is also succeeded in introducing the average American reader to the ups and downs of immigration for upper class, educated Indians.

If the book is meant to be considered a literary novel that examines the immigrant experience and contrasts between India of the 1980s
Suneel Sarath, a Stanford graduate and now an anesthesiologist works in San Francisco. He was born in India but has lived in the United States long enough to feel and be completely Americanized. He prefers to be called Neel, lives in a condo, has a foreign girlfriend and very few Indian friends.

Neel like every other American Indian still struggles with his identity and has to oblige to his conservative mother’s request of making a trip to India to visit his ailing (dying) grandfather. Once in In
NUTSHELL: This poor book is so confused, just like its protagonists. 3.

Hey! Don't pick on the book! I suppose a book can't help what it is -- but its writer can, and its writer missed a few of the more obvious novel-writing lessons. Point-of-view changed so often I had whiplash by the third chapter. There's no real sense of time, or place, for that matter. I wouldn't have guessed it was still the nineteen-eighties for the characters if Cherian hadn't mentioned that outright, and her San Francisc
This is a great book about an arranged marriage that actually kind of happens by mistake. I loved reading about the differences in Indian culture - even though I didn’t always know what they were talking about, it was totally descriptive. I really enjoyed Leila’s journey from a daughter in India dealing with numerous rejections and feeling quite useless to a wife in America who’s unsure of her husband’s true feelings, motives and plans. I loved seeing her become more confident and independent an ...more
Claire S
Really fun to read, the situation as described being so unbelievable (control freak-guy tricked into marriage in his village in India, totally against his will, to a beautiful, intelligent woman rejected by others for her height and/or seeing a movie with a Muslim guy and/or the one other thing..). But then, as Anne relates the story, it's all very believable. If I ever do write, I'll probably re-read this to look at her technique more - I always wanted to read the next thing, never was bored or ...more
Disclaimer: This might be a very emotional review. Oh, and I'm Indian.

I'm twenty two years old so I have no idea what it was like in the eighties. I am a nineties kid - my childhood moulded by hours of Mario Bros, cartoons like Tom and Jerry and other things. I don't know if this is why this book seems so alien and relatable to me.

Alien because I cannot comprehend why a woman with as much fire and smarts as Leila would stay with someone like Neel. Call me whatever you want but I was full of admi
Rio (Lynne)
I'm not sure why other reviewers called this a romance? Neel, born in India makes his way to the USA for college and ends up a successful anesthesiologist in San Fransico. He is tricked into going back to India because he is told his beloved grandfather is dying. His mother has other plans. A marriage. Arranged marriages are normal in India. Having worked with Indians myself, this story was very parallel to what they told me. Lelia, who only knows Indian tradition is excited she is finally getti ...more
Andrea Blythe
This was such a lovely story. I really sympathized the Leila, even though her cultural point of view is very different than my own. From an American point of view, she could be seen as naive, but it's very clear that she's trying to find a balance between finding a life that works for herself and honoring her culture and family.

Neel, too, is a fascinating character in how he has given up so much traditional it's almost at the cost of his true self. And yet, he has strength in most of his choice
While I found the ending unsatisfactory (you just want to shake Suneel for being a prick and Leila for being a dope), this book was a page turner (I was up reading until 1:00 am most work nights trying to finish this book)- what would happen to Leila? Would she be bound by tradition and culture to stay with her prick husband or would she become Americanized enough to strike out on her own? On the other hand, you have to wonder if more modern day couples waded through the initial ups and downs of ...more
Oct 08, 2008 Tina rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: whomever likes cheese (not the gouda type)
Recommended to Tina by: some dumb ass staff member at barnes and noble
Never will I ever choose a book from B&N based on a staff member's top reading choices. I decided to pick up this book for something fun to read while at the beach last week. What a colassal waste of my time. It's great for the typical chic that wants the fairy tale; marriage, kids, and etc. I found it a bit too cheesy for my taste and I won't be picking up anymore of this author's books thanks to this piece of crap.
5.0 out of 5 stars Anne Cherian is my new favorite author!!, January 19, 2013
By Janna Whitehead - See all my reviews

This review is from: A Good Indian Wife: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
I have read many books about India and have come to love their food, their history, their culture. But, this is my favorite because of the new aspects I learned about India... and about Indian men especially!! The author is able to write in compelling detail just what thoughts and feelings each character has!! She sho
A Indian emigrant naturalized as a U.S. citizen is single, is a doctor, lives in San Francisco, dresses nice, has good friends, has true love for the family he has moved so far from, and is good looking. He is also an arrogant deceitful shallow asshole douchebag focused on bling and blondes. On a trip to India to visit his family, he gets railroaded and tricked into an arranged marriage. His new wife is past her prime for arranged marriages, is naive about anything to do with any aspect of a rel ...more
I rated this book three stars but if it were an Indian dish I would give it one star because it is so mild. The author takes us to India, where you can practically feel the heat and humidity on the characters' skin, then to San Francisco where the clime matches the main characters' demeanor for most of the book - you don't really warm up to them, even when they're in the spotlight. And that's a shame after learning that everything Leila knows about the courtship and physical relationship between ...more
The basic message of the book - arranged marriages and the culture clash between India and America - gave what I thought was more than just a glimpse into those things. I could feel the hurt and bewilderment of both Neel and Leila as they struggled to fit into American society. I understood Neel's hurt and anger that he had been tricked into an arranged marriage. But the rest of the story was a bit predictable and the character of Neel was beyond despicable. His repeated lies to this woman whom ...more
I caught wind of this book before its official release and was somewhat excited about it. I'm something of an Indophile, and while I knew that the story was likely a [spoilers:] "NRI marries abroad and ditches blonde secretary for new bride" tale, I was hoping that the story would be told in such a way that one wanted the two lovers to succeed and prove that sometimes arranged marriages work (just as sometimes love marriages work; call me a pessimist). That is not what happened. Leila is interes ...more
Felicia Vertrees
I actually know the author of this book, and I remember when she told me was writing a book. So I was thrilled when I read it and really enjoyed it. If you're curious about how arranged marriages work and how they affect everyone involved, then this will be an interesting read for you. What really stuck with me was that arranged marriages still serve a valid purpose in many cultures. We Americans still find them strange and someone old-fashioned, but for a culture who wants to preserve its histo ...more
Nov 28, 2014 Chasc added it
Shelves: 2014
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Nicole Means

I was lucky enough to visit India for two weeks during the summer of 2012. As I read this book, I became quite nostalgic about my time in India and fond memories of my travels resurfaced. Although I was only there for a short while, the sights, sounds, and smells of my experiences there will never leave me.

The overall theme of "A Good Indian Wife" is roots--whether it is being true to one's roots or finding one's roots in a new land. Neel spends so much time denying his roots that he is actual
Generally, if a book is set in India (other than A Passage to India), has India in the title, or is about Indian culture I resist reading it. Primarily that knee-jerk response is based upon a squeamish concern and prejudice that I will be reading about hungry children or disadvantaged workers. My bad. Totally.

This novel lifted me up and proved me wrong with its simple story of a beautiful, strong woman accepting an arranged marriage and boldly facing life with a man who demonstrated no interest
Curtis Edmonds
I wanted her to do it.

Leila is a nice girl, a teacher, and unmarried in rural India. She is set up in an arranged marriage with a young man who left the village years ago to get a medical education, and is an anesthesiologist in San Francisco. They marry in India, have a brief and loveless honeymoon, and he takes her back to the States, where he ignores her and cavorts with his white mistress.

A good part of the story is told from the perspective of the anesthesiologist, who doesn't see himself a
I really enjoyed this book.

It tells the story of Neel who leaves India and becomes a modernized American doctor who wishes to have a love marriage instead of having his family arrange one.

Going home to India because his mother tells him that his grandfather (whom he is very close to) is very, very ill, Neel agrees to see one girl for his grandfather's sake while he is home. Choosing to see an older girl with no dowry he feels a rejection would be completely expected and he can go home to America
Darshan Elena
This book is a boring masala of tropes and traditions: a timid Indian woman flowers into feminism lite, as her strange doctor husband struggles to overcome his fetishization of white women following their arranged marriage. Boring.
Learned a bit more about Asian Indian culture, customs about clothes and beliefs, and the complications of an arranged marriage. Understood Neel's desire to give up the Indian ways yet wanting to keep his Asian family happy but hated his idea that he was so smart, continuing the affair with gold digging blond, and always thinking he would get his way. His lies became too arrogant for me. Leila was a good main character, really liked when she started doing what she wanted via driving, shopping an ...more

This book depicts exactly how Indian women would behave in the given situation. I don't want to be a spoiler for readers out there but, the character of Sunil or Leela or that of the grandpa is well depicted in the book.

A few Indian boys who come to US especially in 80's had Sunil's way of thinking - not all but a few, they come back to their roots as time goes. The emotions that Leela goes through to keep her marriage, has been put in superbly. I would recommend this book anytime.

This books a
Jaya Vemuri
Good book, portrays the real pic to a large extent
My best friend gave me this book as a gift she thought it would be a good read for me since I married an Indian man. It sad reading because I've seen and heard stories of women marrying NRIs (Non- resident Indian) where they move into a new country and their husbands treat them very badly.

This book is really what some women not just Indians but all who marry a man from another country whether arranged or not. This is what they go through trying to learn and understand a new culture.

Loved this
First, I wish the timeframe of this book was established somewhere in the beginning. (1980s for anyone who decides to read it). At first it seems like it maybe is near modern day, but then a reference to some outdated gadget is made and you realize it isn't, but not until quite a ways into the book. I don't know why that irked me so much but it did.

Story: Suneel ("call me Neel") is a doctor and has made a life for himself in America. Wants to marry a blonde white woman, buuuut doesn't want to m
The initial pages of the book really irritated me, especially the way India and Indians were portrayed. I've never seen an English educated south Indian who speaks so atrociously as shown in the book, loads of grammar mistakes which are seemingly impossible, use of 'tank you' for thank you, and 'virry' for very, in every other sentence spoken by an Indian, other than Neel - the America loving hero, description of an eighties India without proper ISD facilities, shopping centres, vacuum cleaner, ...more
Suneel Sarath è un anestesista indiano che vive e lavora a San Francisco da lungo tempo. Ormai per lui è sempre più difficile evitare i complotti matrimoniali della sua famiglia, ma ci riesce grazie alla lontananza. Quando però viene richiamato in India apparentemente con l'inganno, a seguito di una successione di eventi degni di una commedia degli equivoci Suneel si ritrova, nel giro di due settimane, sposato e in luna di miele.

Leila ha trentuno anni ed è ormai (quasi) rassegnata al suo status
Livey Cockman
A Good Indian Wife starts out in San Francisco with Suneel or Neel as he goes by in his American life. Neel is a Sanford graduate and an anesthesiologist in a local hospital. Neel wants his future wife to be very American with blonde hair and on the same level of intellect as himself. Neel has been summoned back to India to visit his dying grandfather. When he gets there he is talked into seeing some girls while he’s there. His Grandfather talks him into seeing at least one. Leila who is thirty ...more
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B.B.B.C.: Bookish...: Always a Hot Topic: Arranged vs. Love Marriages 5 5 May 12, 2014 08:54AM  
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Anne Cherian was born and raised in Jamshedpur, India. She graduated from Bombay and Bangalore Universities and received graduate degrees in journalism and comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and visits India regularly.
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“He was home. In an environment where he felt loved and comfortable in a way not possible in the United States. And yet, he no longer fit in. He loved living in America, but knew that there, too, he didn't quite fit. It was the classic immigrant dilemma.” 2 likes
“He had put them [his family] first by coming home [to India] and the irony was that they had put him first by arranging this marriage. He had walked into it with his eyes open. But his eyes had been open too long in the West and by the time he adjusted his vision to India, it was too late.” 0 likes
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