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A Good Indian Wife

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,083 Ratings  ·  393 Reviews
Handsome anesthesiologist Neel is sure he can resist his family’s pleas that he marry a “good” Indian girl. With a girlfriend and a career back in San Francisco, the last thing Neel needs is an arranged marriage. But that’s precisely what he gets. His bride, Leila, a thirty-year-old teacher, comes with her own complications. They struggle to reconcile their own desires wit ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published June 8th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jenifer Hanen
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
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
Lana Del Slay
Feb 06, 2012 Lana Del Slay rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 20, 2010 Kavyen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 11, 2008 Christy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Katie Tuccelli
I’ve had a rather difficult time coming up with a rating for A Good Indian Wife by Anne Cherian. On one hand, once I got into the story, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and what would happen next. I was also delighted to read about aspects of life in India and the Indian immigrant experience, both of which were depicted so well (having been to India myself and engaged to marry an Indian man.) On the other hand, character development was inconsistent, the portrayal of white women in the United ...more
Andrea Blythe
Jul 20, 2014 Andrea Blythe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 08, 2013 Janna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 01, 2010 Terri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 08, 2008 Tina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Curtis Edmonds
Sep 25, 2014 Curtis Edmonds rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 16, 2010 Bob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
This is another book where I wish we had half stars because it is a solid 3.5. Arranged marriages are intriguing to me, and assimilation in all of its many shapes and variations is equally fascinating. Both are front and center in this book. What I also liked about this book is that the point of view is shared between Neel and Leila, and they have solidly contrasting points of view in just about every sense imaginable.

It's a slow boil, but it really starts to pick up and get interesting. However
Jan 31, 2009 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 12, 2015 Shanese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one was a page turner, I couldn't put it down.
Mar 30, 2015 Joann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was full of chiches such as couples who fall in love with each other only after marriage and Indian parents anxious to see their children with suitable life partners. I didn't find it a page turner but it had it's interesting parts. Oh how I wanted to smack Neel a lot of times!!!!

Jenny Yates
This is, for sure, a romantic comedy, and you know how it’s going to end. Still, the characters are nuanced and interesting, and the ins and outs of romance make for a good read. It also makes some interesting cultural observations.

It’s the story of an immigrant from India to San Francisco, a doctor who has achieved a pretty successful life. He prefers white women, and he has a pretty blonde girlfriend. The only strong link he still has to India is a beloved grandfather, and when he learns that
Mar 12, 2016 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 21, 2016 Divya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome. A simple story told beautifully. Love the tenacity of Leila who tries to get close to (su)Neel without prying and demanding anything of him. Understands the need to be independent in the foreign land, miles apart in distance and culture from her small town in India. The 80's setup and mindset of the middle class indian families is perfectly captured. Neel with his oh-I-am so-not-Indian attitude, his white fetish and alienation to anything Indian is portrayed without sugar coating it and ...more
May 23, 2016 Samara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I was uncertain what score to give this book. In some areas the novel needed more filler while in other areas things were beautifully done. I would have liked a different ending with maybe a flash forward to see Leila and Neel more settled with rheir baby in tow. But it was satisfying to know that Neel had matured and overcome his need to validate himself in a world where standards are often set by those with less color to their skin. I think although it took longer than I liked for him ...more
May 31, 2015 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Suneel has succeeded at the American dream so desired in India - he immigrated to the US, graduated medical school and has become a successful anesthesiologist in San Francisco, and is dating a blond blue-eyed bimbo. His family, however, frets that he has yet settled down and obtained "a good indian wife" as they are unaware of his current girlfriend. Under the pretenses of visiting a supposedly ailing well-loved grandfather, Suneel returns to his hometown and suddenly finds himself in an arrang ...more
I thought the beginning was ok as it reflected a lot of South Indian culture which I enjoyed. However the story line become a bit weak once the newly wed couple reached America. I feel Leila who was described as a strong willed & educated Indian woman should have left her cheating husband & forged a life for herself especially since he didn't want to marry her in the first place. I can understand how conflicted she must have been since she was in her 30's , in a new country with no famil ...more
Nicole Means
Feb 16, 2014 Nicole Means rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Judy Bart
Apr 02, 2015 Judy Bart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I kept vacillating between 3 1/2 and 4 stars then I realized it was because I was judging the characters and not the book. It's difficult to relate to people who have to live a life based on rules like arranged marriages, yet here it showed that even in the modern educated Indian community, such things still go on. Of course, we know they exist in other ethnic groups as well. Without giving the entire story away, a very eligible, Indian born Doctor, who practices in San Francisco, goes home for ...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.” 1 likes
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