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Well-Behaved Indian Women

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,189 ratings  ·  351 reviews
From a compelling new voice in women's fiction comes a mother-daughter story about three generations of women who struggle to define themselves as they pursue their dreams.

Simran Mehta has always felt harshly judged by her mother, Nandini, especially when it comes to her little "writing hobby." But when a charismatic and highly respected journalist careens into Simran's li
Paperback, 385 pages
Published July 14th 2020 by Berkley Books
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Simran is a writer and psychologist, judged by her mother, Nandini, who feels writing isn’t a “job.” When a journalist comes knocking, it makes Simran question her career and her engagement.

Nandini, Simran’s mother, has done the best she can to provide a good life for her children. She faces racism in the workplace and at home, she is often placating her husband’s difficult family. Her ideal in life has been to be the “Perfect Indian Woman.”

Mimi is the mother of Nandini. She feels like a failure
Taylor Reid
Jul 09, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2020
This debut is such a great story about mothers and daughters over three generations. Simran, Nandini, and Mimi are all incredibly different women, navigating the world the best they can—and to see the way they support and challenge one another reminded me of some of the most pitch-perfect moments in another wonderful grandmother-mother-daughter story, Jane the Virgin.
Theresa Alan
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel so much. It’s really well written.

After seven years of dating Kunal behind their parents’ backs, Simran and Kunal are engaged, right on schedule. Kunal is in medical school and Simran is almost finished with her master’s degree in psychology. Her parents think it’s cute but not impressive that she got a collection of her essays published by a small press. Writing is not a real career to her India-born parents, who’s coupling was the result of an arranged marriage. The fact tha
Simran Mehta is pursuing a master’s in psychology at Columbia but loves writing, enough that she’s recently published a book of essays. When New York Times columnist Neil Desai shows up at her book party, he sparks disorder in Simran’s life by strengthening her confidence in herself as a writer but has her questioning her commitment to her fiancé Kunal, a medical student. Her mother Nandini, is a doctor but was raised traditionally under Indian culture, including her arranged marriage and accept ...more
Jennifer Blankfein
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave is a mother-daughter story, about Indian women, culture, relationships, and life choices. I really enjoyed this one and learned a lot from my book club discussion with the author.

Simran is in her 20s, pursuing a degree in psychology and she also has just written a book. Her parents, Nandini and Ranjit Mehta are both doctors and are encouraging her to follow in their footsteps, treating her writing efforts as a hobby. With the pressure to have her life all
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
It is often an enlightening experience reading about different cultures. Many of us seem to think that because one has lived in this country they automatically adopt the ways of the populace. In this book, we find profiled three Indian women, grandmother, mother, and granddaughter who although progressed in a limited way, find that they still have a long way to go.

Mimi Kadakia, the grandmother fears she had done such an injustice to her daughter, Nandini. Living in India, she and her husband fol
I’m always excited when I discover a debut desi author and when I first saw this book being promoted, I instantly fell in love with that cover. And despite it belonging to the women’s fiction genre (which I don’t read a lot), I decided I wanted to give it a try. And here I am after finishing it in a single sitting because I couldn’t put it down.

This is essentially a story about a mother and her daughter, both trying to understand each other and themselves better and also trying to make the righ
I've really been enjoying the upsurge of multicultural historical and contemporary fiction that's been published lately. I so wanted to enjoy this story of three generations of Indian women. Grandmother Mimi Kadakia, mother Nandini Mehta and daughter Simran Mehta. All are locked not only into their intergenerational challenges, cultural and racial discords, but their personal challenges. All great tension building opportunities, however for some reason I just didn't engage to the degree I'd hop ...more
Feb 15, 2021 added it
I listened to the audio which was great. The Aunties in the book had things to say and I loved hearing it. I only miss that I couldn't underline the parts that made me want to message the author. By the references in this story, I am willing to bet we crossed paths at some point in NYC during our years of training. Did all overworked residents go to Souk to unwind?

To be clear, you do not need to be brown or medical or well-behaved to enjoy this story.
Lori Spielman
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, from its mysterious prologue to its satisfying end! Saumya Dave weaves a spellbinding tale seeped in Indian culture, ripe with conflict, and filled with characters who’ll capture your heart. This sumptuous tale of hope and love and family loyalty will resonate with any woman seeking the courage to resurrect an abandoned dream. Don't miss this one! ...more
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars! This beautiful debut novel, Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave, explored the relationships between three generations of mothers and daughters of Indian descent. I always loved reading books about Indian culture and this one revealed so many aspects of it. It explored arranged marriages and the sacrifices and burdens indian women faced as a result, the importance of education for children of Indian immigrant parents including good grades and prosperous and respectable careers, an ...more
Lily Herman
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Saumya Dave's debut novel Well-Behaved Indian Women had powerful themes around the importance of family, the loving and yet stultifying nature of community, and what it means to be an Indian woman—and a woman at large—in our society. Simran and Nandini in particular could both be equally empowering and frustrating characters, and I loved that they contained multitudes.

That said, I had issues with the lack of plot throughout the book (especially in the first half) and the pacing throughout. After
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I had finished watching "Indian Matchmaker" on Netflix and enjoyed it so much. This book felt like an extension of that show. A generational story of three women and the effects of arranged marriage and love marriage. Great debut ...more
I read this book after I read Joy Luck Club (a Chinese immigrant experience) expecting similar rich stories from an Indian immigrant.

Kind of disappointed because of those expectations. But also with the depth of the stories and characters. Each chapter felt like it was trying to build up suspense only to fall flat in the next chapter, like eh this was all that hype for.
I couldn't relate to the grandmother's voice, nor Simrans. Whenever Nandini came into the picture though, I wanted to read more
Elizabeth A
Dec 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, 2020
I listened to the audiobook which was well narrated by Soneela Nankani.

In the midst of some heavier Nonfiction November reads, I was in need for a lighter, dare I say fluffier? read. This one fit the bill.

It's the story of three generations of Indian women and how they navigate the world. The story starts in India, but most of the action takes place Stateside. I liked it. I liked the women, and I appreciated the themes explored.

There was a tad too much tell and not enough show, and there were
Sharon May
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Many thanks to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing, and Saumya Dave for the opportunity to read this wonderful debut novel - 5 stars!

Three generations of Indian women, struggling to fit into family and societal expectations and still maintain some sense of their own wants and needs. We meet Simran, studying to be a psychologist and engaged to her childhood sweetheart but suddenly not sure if either path is right for her. Simran's mother, Nandini, working as a physician after putting her husband's care
This book takes relatable content (though in the most unexpected way for me) to a new level. Also: NEIL DESAI...that's it that the review. RTC ...more
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
E-galley courtesy of Berkley and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I loved this story about three generations of women living a modern life with cultural expectations and pressures. From the grandmother in India to her daughter Nandini, a family physician in America, to Nandini’s daughter Simran, ready to finish school and marry the love of her life – all three are on the brink of change.

Saumya Dave had me at page one – completely invested in her characters and the challenges they faced
Kelly  Seifert
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I loved all the different point of views. Great book! ❤📚
Lian Dolan
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was the perfect anecdote to stay at home anxiety-- a rich, warm thoughtful tapestry of three generations of Indian women in one family. Well-paced, the author is able to take a look back at each woman's lives while keeping the story bubbling along in a contemporary fashion. The subject of marriage-- both arranged and free choice, good and bad, for love and for money-- is the story engine here. Fascinating to me. But the payoff is the relationships between the women. This is a 2020 Sate ...more
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up. I liked reading about the three generations of Indian/Indian-American women and their coming into their own. I did get a bit tired of the repeated description of how Indian-American parents compete in terms of their children's accomplishments and what that does to their children, especially in terms of snide remarks and back-handed compliments. But I did appreciate when someone finally stood up to it [no spoiler here, you can see it coming from a mile away]. And I appreciat ...more
Jan 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was a lovely read. Usually when I don’t like the main characters I struggle to finish a book and it drags. But in this case, even though Simran annoyed me, a lot, I still enjoyed the story. I love that it is centered around women from different generations. It was done really well but that split perspective, and not caring much for Simran, left me wanting more of Nandini’s story.
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The last sentence in the Acknowledgments summed up my experience of reading this perfectly: “To anyone who had ever felt different, struggled to find a story that represents them, or been told to put their book down already, I hope this book can provide some solace.”

I saw a lot of myself in Simran’s personal experiences as well as in her relationships with her family. Throughout the book, there were insights into different character’s thoughts and feelings that felt like someone was explaining s
Jane Igharo
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story about three generations of Indian women. It was so refreshing stepping into their world and getting to know their culture, struggles, and experiences! Saumya is such a talented writer! Highly recommend this!
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this! Such a great message about standing up for yourself and fighting for what you know is right. Loved the idea that women are allowed to be and have more than one “self.”
Swetha Malineni
Nov 28, 2020 rated it liked it
2.5. I really really wanted to love this since it’s premise seemed to speak to an immigrant experience I felt for so long was only discussed verbally (and even less so cross-generationally) among Indian-Americans woman. And while I really enjoyed some parts and appreciate finally seeing Indian authors being supported enough to share these stories, other aspects of the writing really felt subpar and lacked depth.

1. So many different things happened in this book. Some of it was to showcase strugg
Smitha Murthy
I wonder why this book hasn’t got more attention. It kind of seems to have slipped under the reading radar with all the fuss over hennas and tattoos. But Saumya Dave’s debut is worth more attention.

I was pleasantly surprised by the intense feminism and the sensitive portrayal of a search for identity. The story flowed; I was invested with all the characters, and I was so so so glad that Dave didn’t stick to a predictable ending. There’s no set formula, no set conventions and that’s so refreshing
Alexia Chantel
I really enjoy books from other cultures. I had some work friends in college that were growing up just like Simran and it made me really miss talking to them about their families. Another nice point to this book is it spans three generations, Simran who gets engaged, her mother, and her grandmother who still lives in India.

A bit of repetition with Simran's relationship with Kunal, and I was expecting a bit more of a romance to this (reader: this is not a romance) but the ending was true to life
Ariel | swirlofspice
The story follows three generations of mothers and daughters: Simran Mehta, her mother Nandini, and her grandma, Mami. All of them feel misunderstood by each other, and the plot follows each of their plights, as they struggle to find themselves and confront their past.

This is a difficult review for me to write; as an Indian-American begging for representation, I was overjoyed to see this story, especially a women-centric one. But it’s important to note I bring so much of my own baggage with want
A very well written and thought provoking story of daughter/mother relationships, plus relationships to friends and partners. The characters are finding their way into who they truly are and need to be. While it was related to Indian culture and explored the themes through that, it still has universal application.
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