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Madras on Rainy Days: A Novel

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  640 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
Layla is torn among clashing identities--dutiful Muslim daughter and free, independent American woman. When she is nineteen, her parents inform Layla that a marriage has been arranged for her to an Indian man she doesn't know. A stunned Layla submits reluctantly but not before she commits a dangerous, final act of defiance. In the heat and noise of Hyderabad, as her weddin ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Sarah Sammis
I had just finished reading North from Calcutta by Duane Evans and was thinking of the Business World review which complained about the lack of Indian literary fiction written by actual Indians. The article contended there was plenty of pulp fiction published every year but rarely was it written in English or translated into English. India was therefore left to outsiders to represent itself to the rest of the world.

I don't know how valid the Business World observation is but it did get me to thi
...more
Mary
Mar 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intimate look inside the world of a Muslim woman in India.
Nicole
Sep 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had some unexpected twists. I love learning about other cultures.
Kae Cheatham
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good language throughout and a strong picture of the cultures.
Liz Phillips
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Using my quiet patch to catch up on the older books in my "To Read" pile. I love books like this - colourful characters and insight into different cultures.
Kieran Walsh
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Great fictional account of the post Indira Ghandi assasination massacres. Fantastic writer.
Ann Tonks
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: islam, india
If for no other reason that discovering more about the life of contemporary Muslims in India, this book is worth reading. In some ways it's an overly long drawn-out picture of an arranged marriage but it's also a picture of the impact of religion and culture on those who don't quite fit easily into the restraints of history and community. It's full of detail about living surrounded by family and enemies; of dreaming about fitting in and dreaming of fleeing; about the physicality of connection bo ...more
Bharti
Dec 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Madras on rainy days is about a daughter and wedding as per the wishes of her parents. Reading the book blurb/summary you will never guess the different layers explored in the story.

Madras is the pivotal moment in the story, a turning point which is what the lead character remembers it by her life changing experience in India.

Layla spends half her time in India back with her conservative parents to ensure they stay close to their culture. Having done the back and forth most of her life Layla h
...more
Julie Christine
Layla, the young protagonist, spends half the year in Minneapolis with her blended but broken nuclear family, the other half in Hyderabad with this family and a large community of relatives and friends.

The story centers around Layla's return to Hyderabad to reluctantly complete an arranged marriage and continues through the early weeks of the marriage. Layla and her groom, Sameer, each harbor devastating secrets that play out in rather predictable but still engrossing ways.

THe plot does spiral
...more
Amy
Picked this up a month or so back when I stopped in to release some books on the shelf. Read it while on a trip to Atlanta. Having lived in India, and in a highly Muslim area, I was interested to read many of the details, especially in the beginning, about weddings and commitments. But I also found the writing a little ambiguous in some crucial areas. For instance, for the longest time, I was unclear if Layla needed a good Ob/Gyn, psychiatrist, or exorcism. The "mystery" of her husband's behavio ...more
Kerry
Jul 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: everything
Richly detailed, Madras on Rainy Days was an interesting view into the lives of two Indian Muslim families. A reluctant bride in an arranged marriage, Layla is frantic due to secrets about her past. Desperate to build a home and a family, Layla goes through with the wedding only to find that almost everyone she knows (her mother, her cousin, her husband) are concealing things and her world shifts and changes with each new revealation.

What I particularly enjoyed was how Layla and Sameer's relati
...more
Ming
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Madras on Rainy Days has been overlooked. I am grateful and honored to have read it.

This book is haunting as you begin to feel as the main character does and become more drawn to her experience. The story itself is complex and compelling. I found the psychological and emotional portrayal of Layla and other characters to be intricate, multi-layered and intriguing. It felt honest and I empathized with the characters. I especially appreciated Layla's feeling straddled between two cultures and its r
...more
Naheed Hassan
Madras on Rainy Days is Samina Ali's debut novel. The beautiful prose and maturity with which the concepts have been handled are impressive, the skills far beyond those of a debut writer.
Layla, the half American-half Indian girl who has been allowed to be neither one not the other is beautifully etched. Her confusion about where she belongs, colours every aspect of her life. As the story progresses we see the mistakes she makes, the hopelessness of her situation and finally, her triumph over it
...more
Nags
Nov 20, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was fine with how the book started. Until about page 20 that is. Then it went downhill. The main character had some problem, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out if she was pregnant or on her period or delusional! It was frustrating. The language was frustrating, the ambiguous narration was irritating and to top it all, the servants in the book were always talking long paragraphs of broken English and I felt like I had to endure these nails-screeching-on-blackboard portions to get thro ...more
Anita
Feb 25, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story started out really slow and I had a hard time staying interested, but then almost halfway through, it picked up steam and I wanted to know how the story ended. I agree with some of the previous reviewers in that I was so confused as to what was wrong with the protagonist and her never ending bleeding. The servants' dialogue were also hard to follow and I had to reread a few of them to understand what they were trying to say. The author kept rattling on in some parts where she could hav ...more
Darla Ebert
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A riveting read, I could hardly put the book down. There was enough cultural revelation to sate my thirst with a story line that was constantly surprising me. I did feel very sad concerning what Muslim women must endure in the name of religion, such a de -personalization, offensive and inexcusable.
A warning: there are some unpleasant specifics in the area of immorality, not necessary and certainly disagreeable to read, did not contribute to the romance in any way and was off-putting.
I would hav
...more
Meg
Jun 10, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got through 80 pages of this book, and gave up! Its poorly structured..seemingly endless description of the marriage and her dilemma about her fiance and her condition.. I never did understand after getting through quarter of the book if she was pregnant or not or was mentally disturbed or some other psychic problem! Thought i would give a new Indian author a try.. but this was a disappointment!
Allison
Story of a young muslim indian woman, who has spent considerable amounts of time in the US, but is back in India for her arranged marriage. Complicating matters is the lasting effects of a miscarriage, the pregnancy a result of her relationship with an American boyfriend, who she's really in love with. The arranged husband seems likeable enough, until she gets to know him better... I enjoyed the book.
Jill
Jul 03, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good solid read, about an Indian Muslim woman who has lived in the US for most of her life, gets pregnant (whoops!), moves to India, and takes medicine that causes her to have a miscarriage, and then has an arranged marriage to a man who she falls in love with, but is gay (whoops!). The book highlights oppressive cultural restrictions, and the pain of those who live with them.
Christine
I found this a bit clumsily written. There were a lot of Urdu words that were untranslated, so much so that it got hard to follow. It may have been the electronic version, but there were a lot of typos that also got distracting. I am still thinking about the story itself. The ending was very graphic and then, I felt, unsatisfying.
Elaine
Mar 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
At first I thought oh normal, normal, but my what a change comes over the book in the characters' lives and in the story of their lives. The plot thickens and the unravelling that occurs in the story is so beautifully told, within this Muslim culture of families and friends. This is quite an outstanding read.
Sana
Dec 27, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Never did I dislike a book so much! I couldn't relate to any of the so-called Indian Muslim traditions stated in the book, even though I spent a good part of my life in the city where most of the story is set. The synopsis on the book cover made it sound like an interesting read, it just turned out to be a disappointing one.
Keli
Feb 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written. This story is about a culture very different from mine so I was drawn in immediately. There were a lot of details that some people my find boring or tedious, but were fascinating to me. The end was a little dramatic, but still, completely worth the read. Loved it. During the weekend that I read it, I hated putting it down.
Asra
Jun 29, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book somewhat disturbing and dont find the traditions within this story to hold true today. I was however captivated.

The events and uncovered truths towards the conclusion of the novel were shocking and overwhelming. I have a feeling this is very loosely based on the authors own experiences.
Beth
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian-diaspora
This is a book I've recommended to several people. It's about a marriage destined not to succeed, and the turmoil that results from familial pressure to conform to a predetermined view of how one should live one's life.
Ana
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an emotional story. I really felt for the progtaganist. She really came through and made some heart wrenching real decisions. I applaud this book for its non traditional look into Islam and Muslim women.
Laura Holland
Although there are interesting insights in this book on Muslim arranged marriages and the treatment of women in that society, I thought this book was pretty forgettable. I've read many other books on the same subject that I liked better.
Kristin
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book was well written, interesting characters. I wanted to finish it to find out what happens to everyone. It does explore bi-cultural issues in an interesting way. But it's rather depressing. One tragedy after another.
Aylena
Sep 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found it a very good read, very interesting. Only with the end I wasn't so happy. It seemed like adding storys, like putting cream on a cake which already has enough cream on it. But all in all I liked it alot.
Brandy
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
book was ok. although some of the language and seemingly unnecessary details clouded the story, I continued to read bc I was interested in what was next. the story continued, even after the big reveal 3/4 of the way, but I eventually put the book down for good. couldn't take the rest.
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“No matter where you are, keep your life simple - that is all I am saying. Remember, a rich man is not the one who has the most, but one who desires the least.” 3 likes
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