Having read two passable books by Nisha Minhas (Passion & Poppadoms, The Marriage Market), I have to admit this one is a total disappointment. The...moreHaving read two passable books by Nisha Minhas (Passion & Poppadoms, The Marriage Market), I have to admit this one is a total disappointment. The plot is all over the place, with no unifying structure, or thematic or character development to keep things going along. The writing needs some serious editing. Scenes are often interrupted with pointless details about this or that to give some sort of backstory, but by the next page this information is inconsequential and easily forgotten. It's impossible to sympathize with any of the main characters. We are never sure where they stand, and whether what they say to one another is ever the truth. Their behavior, either out of nastiness, duplicity, plain dumbness or emotional naiveté is cringeworthy and the reader dare not take any character's side. The main problem with the novel's story is Cloey's neverending nastiness and desperation. It goes on and on, becoming more psychotic, to the point where it isn't funny anymore, only disturbing. The humor and satire is long gone by the final scene of Cloey's comeuppance. There is only relief that the book is finally over, and that no one was -hopefully - harmed in the telling of the tale. (less)
This is a light but entertaining read, if one is willing to accept it as a farcical comedy, somewhat different in tone from the average British-Asian...moreThis is a light but entertaining read, if one is willing to accept it as a farcical comedy, somewhat different in tone from the average British-Asian novel, or stereotypical chick-lit/romance.
Marina, the female protagonist of this novel is driven by her desires and needs; in this she is mischievous and totally unselfconscious. As a first-generation native British woman of Indian descent, her conduct is several notches beyond that of simply rebelling against the conservative Indian norms of her parents. She's a thoroughly modern woman, driven by her emotional & sexual desires; aspects of her identity which have nothing to do with the British-vs-Asian dilemma. She sets her eyes on The Guy, straight out of a Mills&Boon/Harlequin trashy romance, and she will try anything, from flaunting her female charms to Indian spells, to conquer her man. And it's all in good fun...
If she hasn't done so already, I would suggest that Nisha Minhas give erotica a try; this story is similar in tone and plot to some of the over-the-top humourous women's erotica I've read (Virginia Crowley's Longing for Toys and Lisette Ashton's Neighborhood Watch).(less)
Jeena figures out that the only way to get out of a traditional Indian arranged marriage her parents try to force upon her, is to arrange a marriage h...moreJeena figures out that the only way to get out of a traditional Indian arranged marriage her parents try to force upon her, is to arrange a marriage herself, specifically a sham marriage with her current boyfriend. This eventually placates her parents, but the greater Indian community doesn't take to the interracial union too well.
In contrast, sham husband Aaron isn't that concerned with Jeena's Asian background, or with the concept of faking a marriage. Jeena's just another attractive woman in a long list of casual relationships, and her Indian "otherness" doesn't figure prominently in the way he views her. Neither is he interested in rescuing her from a stifling conservative tradition. Rather, what makes him sympathetic to her appeal for help in this unorthodox union, is his understanding of her need to put on a false front. As we discover, he's not wholly unfamiliar to this tactic; he's got secret issues of his own that he's been trying to hide for a long time now....
Ironically, it's this which endears him to his "sham" in-laws, as Aaron finds the appropriate buttons to push, to convince Jeena's parents of his sincere feelings for & proper conduct towards their daughter. He's got just the right argument to prevent them from disowning her for choosing a husband outside of her caste/religion.
Another interesting thematic development is the contrast between Aaron's obsessive-compulsive interest in eastern traditions (Japanese martial arts, Chinese feng shui, meditation) versus Jeena's almost total disinterest in her family's Sikh culture and traditions. Contrary to her family's expectations, as an adult Jeena is not compliant. Nor is she confused or conflicted by her dual identity as a British-born-and-bred woman of Indian descent. She knows what she wants, and it's a completely (modern) female desire.
The scene where she resorts to using her physical charms to get herself out of a tight spot, after the self-defense moves Aaron has taught her prove (predictably) to be ineffectual, is highlight of this funny and somewhat wickedly daring romantic comedy. (less)
Farahad Zama surprises us here, with even more complex controversial issues dividing today's India in its transition from tradition to modernity, afte...moreFarahad Zama surprises us here, with even more complex controversial issues dividing today's India in its transition from tradition to modernity, after the first social and political hot points covered in the first two volumes of his series. However, this installment lacks the plot suspense or the narrative elaborations of the second book, The Many Conditions of Love. There was a discernible stylistic progression from The Marriage Bureau for Rich People to T.M.C. of L. I was disappointed that the writing in the third book returns back to the simplicity that marks the first one. (less)
**spoiler alert** This is a slightly more complex narrative to its prequel The Marriage Bureau for Rich People. Here the plot is pure Bollywood, with...more**spoiler alert** This is a slightly more complex narrative to its prequel The Marriage Bureau for Rich People. Here the plot is pure Bollywood, with climactic situations and scenes straight out of a film script. The central plot element is the taboo love affair between Rehman and Usha. Aruna's marriage troubles act as a foreshadowing of what can go wrong with Rehman and Usha's possible union. The secondary characters and subplots are set up in such a way that the audience will not be sure which way the story will go. Possibly another woman has caught Rehman's attention although he's not consciously aware of it yet, and will Rehman adopt Vasu the orphaned village boy... There are several instances of "flashbacks" adding complexity to the narrative structure, where the backstory to the current scene is explained further (eg, Rehman's first love, how Vasu came to be orphaned, why Aruna is tricked into a visit to the ob-gyn, the story of how "Tara" is adopted by the village family, etc). Another cinematic element is the attempt to balance the tragedy of Mr. Naidu's experiment with GMO crops, with the levity of Tara's "wedding." And finally, the stereotypical (even if enigmatic) closure of the mountaintop sunset scene in the Epilogue. (less)
This was a fairly quick and easy read. Under normal circumstances I would say there's something lacking in the novel; the plot is somewhat simple (yet...moreThis was a fairly quick and easy read. Under normal circumstances I would say there's something lacking in the novel; the plot is somewhat simple (yet not simplistic, for there are several social issues pertinent to present-day India woven into the storyline). My main criticism is that the book is apparently lacking a central theme or crisis to be resolved. Also, the "Wikipedia moments" where certain customs or cultural facts are explained in detail distract from the storytelling. However, I've been so caught up in a family issue these past six months I actually found that reading this book calmed and relaxed me. The writing flowed easily and I let myself go with it.(less)