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The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

(The Marriage Bureau for Rich People #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  4,161 ratings  ·  863 reviews
Alexander McCall Smith meets Jane Austen in this delightfully charming Indian novel about finding love.

What does an Indian man with a wealth of common sense do when his retirement becomes too monotonous for him to stand? Open a marriage bureau of course!

With a steady stream of clients to keep him busy, Mr. Ali sees his new business flourish as the indomitable Mrs. Ali and
Hardcover, 293 pages
Published June 11th 2009 by Putnam Adult (first published 2008)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, humour, asia, love
A delightful story about a retired man setting up his Marriage Bureau business in a large Indian city.

Morning in the peaceful garden
Mr Ali loved the garden he had created in the modest yard, about twenty feet wide and ten feet long. He rubbed his hands to warm them up – sure that the temperature was less than twenty degrees. On one side, a guava tree spread its branches over most of the area from the house to the front wall. Under it grew many curry-leaf plants, a henna plant and a jasmine climb
Smita Beohar
This book topped the list of ‘Page Turners to pick up in 2009’, published by Hindustan Times. The article said ‘Set in an Indian Marriage bureau and billed as Jane Austen meets McCall Smith, the book is charming, funny and acutely observed.’

Author: Farahad Zama

Publisher: Abacus

Price: 295/-

I grabbed the book as soon as it was out, did it meet the hype & my expectations?

Read on!

Mr. Ali, freshly retired doesn’t know what to do with his time. He has been interfering with his wife’s daily routine and
A fast, light, relaxing read. A feel good story. Good for the equilibrium. Loved it.
Feb 08, 2010 rated it liked it
The brighter than bright cover of The Marriage Bureau for Rich People caught my eye immediately. Look at it. It's lovely. You aren't going to stumble across colors like that in any ho-hum world. It was love at first sight and interest soon after as I read the description. It wasn't purchase at first sight though. My cash once again went to my local.

How wonderful when my instincts are right. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People is a delight with a conscience. Mr Ali has retired from the Indian civ
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People was a welcome breath of fresh air.
Thoroughly enjoyable and pleasant read. There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about this book. This was just a nice quaint story and exactly the right fit for my mood right now.

Mr. Ali has retired from his first career and has hung a sign outside the door of his house and started a second one. Mr. Ali has opened a marriage bureau. What is a “Marriage Bureau” you ask? In the Ali’s South East India community most marriag
I expected to enjoy this more than I did. The first half contained a lot of detail about the marriage bureau, but not much character or plot, and I almost set it aside. Luckily the second half improved.

In his retirement, Mr Ali needs something to do with all his free time. He decides to set up a marriage bureau - a matching service - at his home. (Why?) The business takes off and he finds that he needs to take on an assistant, so Aruna (who has her own unfortunate romantic history) begins worki
Jennifer S. Brown
Jul 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
I have to say, the book fooled me a bit; I thought it would be more literary, but really, by the end, it was a basic chick lit romance. However it was so cleverly disguised in the society and cultures of India that I was seduced.

Mr. Ali is retired and decides to supplement his pension by opening a marriage bureau for arranged marriages. His assistant is a young woman whose family is unable to afford a wedding for her, so she must remain unmarried. Mr. Ali has a son who is involved in protests, c
Rehan Abd Jamil
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
The affection between them was clear to everybody. Mr. Ali knew from long experience that this romantic love would not last more than a couple of years and they would have to forge a different kind to last them a lifetime, but it was still heartwarming to see.
Zama's debut novel reads like a modern day version of Pride and Prejudice, but he takes us to the thriving East-Indian town of Vizag instead of a more Western setting. Although there is plenty of romance to go around, many other issues are slipped into the narrative to keep it from becoming just another chick-lit. And believe me, it really is more than that. Granted, the book doesn't offer any serious in-depth discussions of controversial (?) topics, but the clash of the traditional and the mode ...more
Apr 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lena by: Goodreads first reads
Shelves: fiction
Mr. Ali is a bored retiree in a coastal Indian town who decides to open a matchmaking service to keep himself busy. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People paints a slow-paced but engaging portrait of the lives of Mr. Ali and his family, their assistant Aruna, and the clients who come to seek out their services.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the access it offered into the exotic complexities of Indian culture. The rituals of marriage arranging provide a fascinating window into the lives of
Sep 16, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency"
Shelves: southasia
I finished this book yesterday afternoon and have already begun forgetting it.

Not that this was an awful book. In fact, fans of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and its oeuvre would probably find this book's simplistic writing, facile plot, and exotic setting charming and quaint. For a curmudgeon like me, though, books like this are way too lightweight. I felt like I was reading a children's book.

"The Marriage Bureau for Rich People" basically offers up a slice of life in an Indian village. Mr
Jul 31, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: south-asian
This novel, which is about an old man in India starting a marriage bureau to keep busy in his retired life, was bland and boring. Though set in modern day, the story and the plot lines were old-fashioned and didn't keep up with the current times. The one story line that illustrated the emergence of a new generation of Indians was not explored well enough. The writing was repetitive and written as if the story was translated from another language into English. The author was trying to focus on th ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am biased about this book, this is set in Andhra Pradesh i.e yes the same state I live and it is all about the middle-class South Indian households. Heroine is from a Brahmin family so it's as if I am reading about my own household and the society I live in. It's bizarre to find so many similarities, good kind of weird.

I loved Mr and Mrs.Ali, especially Mr.Ali's stories and his subtle sense of humour. He is a great story teller and can change your mindset just about anything,he can convince a
Nov 27, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I picked up this book expecting it to be a bathtub read, and it was. It was also angering in a way I can't quite put my finger on.

For one thing, it would have made a better play than a novel. Half the book takes place in one of three main scenes, and with the focus being on relationships, the play format would have done the topics presented a great service.

Secondly, the characters are seriously two-dimensional and I can't bring myself to care about them at all.

This goes doubly for the Activist!S
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book. The title does sound very "McCall Smith"-ish, or even Vish-Puri-ish, but fortunately it was not written by a Westerner winking over the heads of his characters to the Western reader, saying, "Aren't these people cute?" The characters don't speak pidgin English, either, which is a relief--and makes sense since they are speaking to each other in their own languages.

It's not a mystery novel, just a life-novel with a light touch--which touche
Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Mr. Ali finds retirement to be less than thrilling, he decides to fill his days by running a matchmaking service to help arrange marriages. As the service grows, so does the breadth of the story. Whether helping a clueless client understand how best to present himself or arguing with his wife over the behavior of their activist son, Mr. Ali's finding retirement less than relaxing.

Though the book is an easy read with a happy ending, it touches on a number of interesting themes in an easy ha
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really didn't have a clue what I was getting into when I started this book; the back cover didn't tell me much about what type of book would be. I bought it on sale at BAM and it has sat on my bookcase ever since. Today I was looking for a book to sit outside and read on the porch;I grabbed this one and settled in. I read the whole thing in just over four hours. I was blown away. This book may be fiction, but it taught me so much about a religion I knew nothing about. I am going to recommend t ...more
Indrani Sen
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: india
A very sweet book with a positive outlook. How contemporary India is balancing her past with her future. A very well written, very sweet story based in Vizag. The characters are well drawn, if not very deep. Thoroughly enjoyed.
Jamie Hatch
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Totally reminded me of Alexander McCall's No 1 Ladies Dectective Agency. Simle story, mildly engaging. And while I didn't love it, I can see its merrits especially as being a fantastic book group read. Lots of fun topics to discuss about culture, love, marriage and women's roles. ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr Hyder Ali, Government Clerk (retired) has been struggling to fill his days since he gave up work. It’s not easy for his wife either. She’s going crazy at him fussing around the house and wishes he’d get out from under her feet and find something to do. You might suppose he’d take up golf, collect stamps or spend more time at the mosque but instead, he comes up with the unlikely idea of starting a marriage bureau. With decades of his own happy marriage behind him and a keen understanding of hu ...more
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Mr Ali is getting under his wife's feet now he is retired and he decides to set up a marriage bureau for rich people to help with arranged marriages. Soon he is so busy he needs an assistant whom Mrs Ali finds for him. Aruna is a charming girl who needs to earn more money than she can at the local department store because her father's pension has been reduced. Mr Ali offers her commission for each new member as well as a salary.

Everyday life in India makes a fascinating background to the story a
Strona po stronie
It was just lovely :) - the best book I've read this year! Actually, I don't think that I've ever read a book quite like this one. Maybe because I'm completely unfamiliar with the Indian culture? Hmm... It's probably one of the things that made it even more interesting and worthwhile for me. And let's not forget that the book has such a warm feel to it! How could I not love it?

Anyway, Zama's writing style really is similar to McCall Smith's. Still, it's a little bit less plain - more descriptive
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
A charming village story, one that hits the right notes of character and setting. No big surprises, but the experience is so engaging I can't imagine any real complaints. A sincere recommendation.

Marriage is a most sacred relation...Remember the verse in the Quran: Your wives are a garment to you as you are a garment to them. The garment is worn next to our bodies; so should a husband and wife be. Just as a garment hides our nakedness and defects, so should the husband and wife keep each other's
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
A delightful book ! Mr. Ali, having recently retired, starts a marriage bureau to keep himself busy and out of his wife's way. His assistant is Aruna. The story revolves around the marriage bureau, Mr. Ali's family and Aruna's family. The book has a simple plot and is an easy read. There is plenty of humour. But the book, I found is deceptively simple. There is so much wisdom in the book about life, and relationships in general but marriage in particular. The message of the book about marriage i ...more
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down! I just recently have gotten into cultural fiction and the cover and description of this book fell into my "well that looks kind of interesting" shelf in my mind, so I was really surprised when I became so absorbed in it. The author really gives the reader a good look into life in Southern India and uses beautiful imagery to describe religious ceremonies, weddings, and just everyday life. Though it focuses on a small business and the lives of the main characters, po ...more
Jul 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
I really liked this story. It was a gorgeous and fascinating slice of South Indian life. Particularly focusing on marriage and family relationships. I feel like I got a glimpse into what it would be like to be a woman in India. There were stories of hope and also some sad pictures of the harsh realities many face there, but overall an uplifting experience. The narration couldn't have been better. The musical lilt of Indian-accented English was so beautiful to listen to--it even seeped into my ow ...more
Rachel Boling
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It was charming and delightful, and gave a glimpse into a land and cultures that I was less familiar with. The story starts when a retired man opens a marriage bureau, and he is successful. He eventually hires an assistant and the two work together to help others find a marriage. Along the way, the author weaves in the stories of those around them, offering both happy and sad glimpses of human life. The story revolves around the characters, and the characters are wonderful. No ...more
J.R. Thomas
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Definitely one of my favourite books. Right up there with The Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency. The characters are believable, the humour is subtle, and the setting is well thought out. I consider myself educated in the Indian way of life after reading the four books in the series. I think that the author also gives the reader an excellent look into the traditions in India and the interactions between the religions. ...more
Emily Mellow
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: story
I really liked this. Even in the midst of a phase where I am being very picky about what I read, and abandoning a lot of books after a couple chapters- this one was so enjoyable. At first I was a little unsure; it takes a bit before it becomes more than a simple record of marital transactions, and blossoms into an actual story. But the whole time the book is rich with descriptions of life in India.
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I adored this book. The narration and story line are rather simple but Zama's interweaving of caste and religious history, tradition, and change is brilliant. The character reveals and development are engaging and the novel as a whole is thought provoking and a most enjoyable read. I hope to read the series--was delighted to learn Zama continued the story. ...more
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Farahad Zama was born in Vizag on the Eastern coast of India in 1966. After obtaining a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Engineering at Kharagpur, near Kolkata, he moved to Mumbai to work for an investment bank. An arranged marriage to a Vizag girl soon followed. His career took him to New York, Zurich and Luxembourg and finally brought him to London for six m ...more

Other books in the series

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People (4 books)
  • The Many Conditions of Love
  • The Wedding Wallah
  • Mrs Ali's Road to Happiness

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53 likes · 4 comments
“There is no point in getting rich if we lose our soul along the way.” 25 likes
“We struggle so much for money, power and love, but the world doesn't care. It just goes round and round in its own circle” 12 likes
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