Christina (Reading Extensively)'s Reviews > The Sari Shop Widow

The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal
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May 15, 11

bookshelves: chicklit, multicultural, read2011, romance
Read in March, 2011

Anjali is a somewhat modern and talented woman. She is creative and good at what she does. She is also very caring towards her parents and though she is so deep in grief, she pools her savings into their store and helps to give it an image overhaul. Unfortunately while she is good at marketing and selecting fabrics, she does not have a head for business. When Rishi and Jeevan show up, intending to help, she immediately goes on the offensive and behaves a little childishly. While it is understandable that she is worried about her store and her Uncle Jeevan's habits of taking control, it was still disappointing that she refused to listen to reason. Thankfully that changes as she gets to know Rishi and understand Jeevan. Another sour note for me was Anjali's relationship with Kip, a friendship with benefits. For someone who is a grieving widow it is strange that she would turn to such a smarmy guy for comfort/physical needs. Reading about him just made my skin crawl and it did not fit with my understanding of Anjali.

Anjali's romance with Rishi develops quickly. He is much more likeable compared to Kip but he is a kind of "rich/handsome hero to the rescue" for Anjali and his expensive ideas for saving the store seemed like a fantasy. I liked reading about his backstory with Jeevan however. I think one of the best parts of the book was seeing the changes in Jeevan and the family dynamics. Sometimes it is very true that we have an idea of what someone is like and we judge them without knowing the whole story. In a way Jeevan became one of my favorite characters by the end of the book. It was the development with his character that really saved the book for me.

The Sari Shop Widow is a predictable but enjoyable chick lit novel in spite of its flaws. I liked reading about the sari shop and Anjali's family. This book is an improvement compared to The Dowry Bride. The modern setting fits with the character unlike The Dowry Bride where the protagonist's behavior didn't match the setting. If you are looking for a light read with a little bit of Indian cultural reference thrown in, try The Sari Shop Widow. If you want a book that delves more deeply into Indian culture or life for Indian Americans however, pick up the works of Jhumpa Lahiri or Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni instead.

Readalikes: Invisible Lives by Anjali Banerjee, Imaginary Men by Anjali Banerjee, For Matrimonial Purposes by Kavita Daswani, The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan
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