Since becoming a widow at age twenty-seven, Anjali Kapadia has devoted herself to transforming her parents' sari shop into a chic boutique, brimming with exquisite jewelry and clothing. Now, ten years later, it stands out like a proud maharani amid Edison's bustling Little India. But when Anjali learns the shop is on the brink of bankruptcy, she feels her world unraveling...
To the rescue comes Anjali's wealthy, dictatorial Uncle Jeevan and his business partner, Rishi Shah -- a mysterious Londoner, complete with British accent, cool gray eyes, and skin so fair it makes it hard to believe he's Indian. Rishi's cool, foreign demeanor triggers distrust in Anjali and her mother. But for Anjali, he also stirs something else, a powerful attraction she hasn't felt in a decade. And the feeling is mutual...
Love disappointed Anjali once before and she's vowed to live without it -- though Rishi is slowly melting her resolve and, as the shop regains its footing, gaining her trust. But when a secret from Rishi's past is revealed, Anjali must turn to her family and her strong cultural upbringing to guide her in finding the truth...
Shobhan Bantwal is the Indian-American author of THE DOWRY BRIDE, her debut novel set in India and slated for release by Kensington Books in September 2007. It is the first of a two-book contract with Kensington.
Since 2002, Shobhan's articles and short stories have appeared in a variety of publications like India Abroad, Little India, U.S. 1, Desi Journal, India Currents, Overseas Indian, New Woman India, Kanara Saraswat and Sulekha. Her short stories have won honors and awards in fiction contests sponsored by Writer's Digest, New York Stories and New Woman magazines. Her award winning stories are accessible through her web site: www.shobhanbantwal.com "
I got this book as a Goodreads First Reads win. The cover and title had suggested a certain gravitas so I was a bit distressed to discover that what arrived in the mail looked quite decisively like chick lit. Now chick lit has Least Favoured Genre status in my life and I was tempted to simply not read it. But having been on the other side of Giveaways I know what silence feels like and decided to read and review it any way. And as it happened, it turned out to be a pleasant enough experience.
The book is less chick-lit (that matter of a woman trying to sound sassy, liberated and full of attitude while engaged in the world’s most regressive pursuit – trying to find a rich hunk to hitch herself to) and more an old style romance. The setting is a sari boutique in Little India, New Jersey. Bantwal successfully creates the ethos of a small family run business. And for at least a third of the book the lead characters quaintly address each other as Miss Kapadia and Mr Shah. The author writes in an easy voice and manages to tell a nice, feel good story.
There is a uniquely Indian term ‘time-pass’ which I picked up as a student in Gujarat. It’s used ubiquitously – peanut sellers on bus stops and railway stations urging their wares on you use it to describe the savouries they are selling, young girls casually flirting during the Navratri dance with someone who is clearly not husband material use it to describe their current squeeze, sons of rich businessmen whiling away a few years before they can join the family concern use it to describe their college education….it implies something pleasant but not critical to wellbeing. This book I thought belongs to that category of things which can be described as good ‘time-pass’.
What makes it even worse was that, unlike most of the folks who seem to have reviewed it, I paid actual money for it on my Kindle.
--The lead character was extremely unsympathetic.
--The story structure was slipshod at best. Example: We don't read one sentence about how much she grieves for and misses her husband until sixty percent of the way through the story. At that point it feels like (yet another) unnecessary roadblock the author throws up in order to keep the obviously-meant-for-each-other couple apart until the end of the story.
--There is an almost skeevy emphasis placed on the desirability of lighter skin. Time and again the heroine's fair complexion is favourably mentioned and the love interest is described multiple times as being white except for his name and a certain "Indian look" in his eyes. It made me feel as though I was reading a racist story.
--The cultural exposition promised by some reviews and the jacket blurb just never really materialised. I could get (and have gotten) a better sense if Indian culture from a restaurant menu and a Wikipedia entry.
--The dialog with secondary characters (her mother, her brother, her father, her cousin, customers in the shop) was clunky and unrealistic.
People often run down Harlequin romances, yet I've seen many of those with more integrity of plot and character than this book. I so badly want my money back on this one, if only because I can never recover the time I lost to reading it.
Well, it's sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long I have been back here but writing this review will just explode my all the frustration about not able to read books nowadays and basically starting again with this was probably a stupid idea.
I downloaded this free from the Kindle store, so I wasn't expecting much. And didn't get much. The main character is an Indian American woman, a widow, in her late 30s. I got maybe through the 2nd chapter before I realized this was basically a Harlequin romance, with pretty much the same plot as other romance novels, the same unrealistic men who are just the right combination of brute and sensitive. It was predictable, but one thing really, really annoyed me: the main character's two love interests are white. Excuse me, one is white, and one is half white and half Indian. But the latter looks completely white and no one would ever guess that he is half Indian but for his name. He's completely perfect though, because while he LOOKS white, he is familiar with the Indian culture and lives part of the year in India. Gee, I wonder how the author feels about Indian men? She was good enough to make the widow's dead husband a full-on Indian, but that just felt patronizing. Aside from these two guys, everyone else in the book is Indian. Oh and I forgot to mention that not only does the half Indian dude look white, he is also British and oooh, has the cutest accent! This line was actually in the book: "Anjali noticed that typical British...way of pronouncing schedule. It has always intrigued her." I really felt embarrassed for the author when I read that. But I learned some Indian food words - normally in books by Indian authors, they just assume you know what everything is, but this author was clearly writing for a non-Indian audience, and she explained and translated everything. So it wasn't a complete waste of time.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
This book was a big disappointment for me. I expected so much more and something so much better.
I have been interested in this culture and especially the clothing for a few months now and I though that this book would be a perfect read for me. It was not to be. Throughout this book I kept wanting to toss it out of the window; however, had I done so I would have been out one very expensive Kindle reading devise.
As I was reading this book, I had to keep telling myself that this book is about a different culture, that maybe an Indo-American woman of 37 is supposed to have been brought up to be a superficial, spoiled, whining brat. One that excels at being a martyr.
This was a very, very typical and clichéd 'love' story. It does have an added attraction of also being about the rebuilding of a failing Indian clothing business. However, that aspect of the story rings so false, unbelievable and thin, that this could have, should have, been published by Harlequin -it was that much of a fairy tale. A typical Cinderella type story - poor older, widowed woman losing her business and being rescued by the rich and handsome man.
The only part of this book that was even remotely interesting was a side story about this families Uncle who had a personality transplant- or so it seemed.
I signed up for the 2010 South Asian Author Challenge to expose myself to books and authors I would not ordinarily be exposed to. This book was on the list of authors and titles that fulfill the challenge requirements: to read a book by a South Asian author that deals with South Asia in some way.
I devoured this novel, hoping for a bit of an inside look into Indian culture. Instead, I found a chick-lit story with a few Indian terms thrown in. Though the main character runs a sari shop, I felt she could have managed a college coffee shop and the plot wouldn't have been affected. The main character is an American-born Indian, but her attitude and lifestyle felt very mainstream American - independent, pretty, willing to have a fling, etc. The romance prospect is a British Indian, but his lifestyle and looks were all British. I was very disappointed that I finished the book not knowing anything more about the Indian culture than when I started it.
As a side note, like many others, I misread the title as The Sari Shop Window instead of The Sari Shop Widow. The cover is very pretty, though.
Book Review: The Sari Shop Widow: A Spicy Pick With Many Twists
This interesting book titled The Sari Shop Widow has been written by Shobhan Bantwal.
Anjali Kapadia is a 37 years old widow and is not too sexy but still is substantially attractive to grab attention of any man around her age. Anjali lost her husband 10 years back due to brain aneurysm, only two years after their marriage. That was the biggest shock for Anjali and her parents. They had a love marriage as Vikram, Anjali's husband was an electronics engineer, and very handsome. He helped Anjali to fulfil her dreams after they both fell in love with each other. She is talented enough to accept any kind of challenges while running her boutique named as "Silk and Sapphires". But this title did not suit her as the word in her boutique title "sapphire" brought bad luck of Saturn in her life. She stays with her parents and they jointly run this store. One fine day all hell broke loose when she is told by her father that the boutique is not doing good for last so many months and they are going to be bankrupt.
Anjali and her mother did not accept the proposal of Anjali's father that her father's elder brother Jeevan Bhai has been invited to help the family to take them out of this crisis. Jeevan lives in India and is a very successful businessman there. He is more than a dictator and has been very tough to all in his life. He keeps dictating about eating habits, living style and so on to anyone in the family. Anjali's parent had a late child, her younger brother, almost 18 years younger to her. Nilesh, Anjali's younger brother, had no interest in his family's business.
The boutique that Anjali started, was earlier her father's shop that was not very flourished neither was doing too good. Anjali, after doing her degree in Apparel Design and Merchandising decided to convert her father's orthodox shop into this boutique. She never accepted her parent's idea of going for remarriage as most of the candidates were either widowers or divorced. Anjali could never accept to take care of kids of any other man. Also she could not find any other man matching her husband's vigor and sense of humor.
Though she was psychologically connected deeply with her husband's memories but being young and to fulfill her desires she gets attracted to a bar owner who too had a good sense of humor and was very sexy. Anjali got physically attracted to this man Kiprowling. Anjali thus developed sexual relationship with Kiprowling but she was always afraid to think about the disaster that will come in her life if her parents come to know about her sexual relationship. Anjali was never in love with Kip and could never think of marrying the new man in her life who was having a very carefree lifestyle whereas she belonged to an orthodox family.
And then her uncle from India arrived to help Anjali's family to get them out of their financial crisis. Her uncle Jeevan came along with a man named Rishi Shah, who was his business partner, and was a few years older than Anjali. This man sprouted a new kind of feeling in Anjali gradually and for the second time in her life she started falling in love with this man. He was already having live-in relationship with a beautiful girl. He was handsome but never showed any indications towards Anjali and stayed aloof and cool all the time. But a moment came in their life when they found that a different kind of bonding had developed in between the two. Rishi was quite brilliant and intelligent to understand the problem behind the failure of Anjali's boutique and started helping them to revive back to get them out of this crisis.
The book is bound to give lot of twists and turns and thus keep reader hooked to the story of Anjali, Kip and Rishi in this book The Sari Shop Widow written by Shobhan Bantwal. At times it would appear as a typical Bollywood drama script suited well for Indian cine-viewers.
I think this author has a decent writing style, but in this case, the plot was non existent. You want me to spend two days reading about a woman with a failing business? That's it. That's all there is to it.. ?
Anjali is a widow. I don't know why. Her widowhood really played no role in the story. She only occasionally and very rarely thinks about or misses her former husband so I don't know why she was made a widow except to explain the fact she is middle aged and unmarried. ? She lives at home with her parents and helps them run their sari shop. Her uncle from India shows up with a handsome partner in tow to renovate the failing sari shop.
Except for the fact that Anjali is sneaking around to have a sex life and keep it from her parents, this book had no Indian feel. They eat Indian food and obviously don't approve of sex before marriage, but otherwise, it could have been just any American family.
Given the cover design and the title, I was expecting a beautifully written story about another country, another culture, a story that would take me away from the familiar and from my usual fare, so I was a little disappointed as I made my way through this book; despite this being heavy in Indian culture, food, and Hindu words, for me it read like a lot of books in the romance genre.
I don't know if that's what made this book so predictable for me, but from the first moment the hero was introduced, I knew he would end up with the heroine, and when the uncle came into the story, I knew something was wrong with him; in fact, I found it hard to believe that no one questioned his weight loss right away.
I'm not sure I liked the heroine, especially the fact that she slept with her bartender friend. She could have been portrayed as independent and more liberal than her parents were without her having to have that meaningless sex. As it was, it was pretty obvious that her relationship with the bartender was a device so that later, she would have reason to turn to Rishi (the hero) for some comfort.
Similarly, I didn't like that Rishi had a girlfriend in the beginning, either. Nor did I like how that relationship ended right before he began to pursue the heroine. Were these "other" relationships even necessary to the story?
Other than that, though, I liked the story. I loved reading the bits of Indian culture and the ways of the American-raised Indians. I would have liked a longer ending. It seemed abrupt and left a loose end on the uncle's part. Ending at the marriage or right after the marriage, in fact, might have been a good idea.
Downloaded July 30, 2010. Finished August 20, 2010.
I was not as enchanted with this book as I'd hoped to be. There were small nuggets of life in an Indian family or living as a woman of Indian heritage in New Jersey that were interesting, but somehow, the story lacked passion to me (which is kind of ironic since it was a love story.) I think also stumbling into dacoits (armed bandits of the sort who killed my brother last year in India) probably did not help me find a "happy place" with this book.
One thing that was interesting was that a huge premise of the book was that being a widow was not a death sentence for a woman. While I wholeheartedly agree, I can't say that Anjali's life was necessarily proof of that. She was active in her work but her world certainly didn't expand much beyond the shop -- they'd come home to sleep and eat food they'd carried out from a restaurant because they were too tired to cook. Then wake up in the morning and go back to the shop. That's a pretty narrow space to dance in, it seems. Or at least it seems to me. Makes the title just a little more telling.
I read this book without checking to see what kinds of reviews it got and I'm glad I did as I may not have read it otherwise. The story is centered around an Indian widow who has thrown her life into her family's sari shop, and has little else going on for her. She is eventually nudged into opening her life to new possibilities in a very sedate and Indian, gujju fashion as, quite frankly, the life choices of a widow in the Indian culture, even in the US, are few are limited. I'm surprised the main character lasted ten years without being pushed to marry and that her family was cool with her marrying for love both times.
So to all of the people reading the negative comments, I'd say give this book a chance. It was delightful to read and very rooted in the culture of being a person of Indian descent in the US. If you aren't familiar with it, it give you a very accurate portrait of family life and if your are familiar, you will recognize alot of what it means to be Indian in the US, or at the very least a woman in this culture.
I have to admit, I misread the title of this book when I got it. I thought it was "The Sari Shop Window"--so I expected maybe a collection of short stories, like life through the window of a sari shop, you know? In a sense, that's what it is...the heroine's life centres around her sari shop and her designs and her family. She is a young widow, living at home with her folks...in that sense I was reminded of the movie "Moonstruck". But aside from that, it's just another romance novel. The dashing hero comes in from London and sweeps her off her feet against her will while still respecting her for herself and her business acumen and...you get the idea. I finished reading it, because it was okay, but I wasn't gripped or fascinated. The end just kind of peters out. As someone once said about planet Earth: Mostly Harmless. And Very Predictable. A nice, safe read.
ok so I picked up this book from the store during the holiday weekend thinking it read 'The Sari Shop Window' and, obviously, the book was so captivating that I realized that it read 'widow' and not 'window' only 10 pages from the end. This should indicate as to how engaged I actually was. I didn't honestly think that a publisher would waste his/her time sending something like this to print. Could you possibly read a couple of hundred pages of dribble and find nothing other than a silly romance at the end? I kept thinking that the next chapter would produce a plot!!!!! With the slew of fine Indian and Indian/American writers out there its amazing that somebody like Bantwal gets to be considered 'famous' (in any right). Sorry. I wouldn't even wrap fish with the pages of this one.
The Indian population in central NJ has exploded in the last decade or so. This book is set in Edison, which has its own Little India and lots of neat, interesting shops like Silk & Sapphires. The second and third generations of immigrant families also face similar cross-culture problems, more traditional elders and more flexible youngers. These real-life issues are wasted as background to a romance in this novel. When the Conflict That Keeps The Lovers Apart appears, it's unbelievable and silly. It's a pleasant novel and sweet, but the characters are kind of flat, and a little unbelievable.
A little disappointed am I. "The Dowry Bride", by the same author, is a better read.
well...I had to post my review because I expected a little more than what i really got! The synopsis sounded very promising but sadly it turned out to be a mediocre chick lit. Not being too harsh but I have read better Mills and Boons romances in my younger days :P. I was not convinced or moved by the protagonist's emotions. I always like to picture myself in the shoes of the protagonist every time i read a book...I definitely didn't this time!
But as they say,no book is a bad book...so I would say this definitely is a time killer but even if you don't finish it you won't regret it!I finished it...and I don't regret that either! :)
I am yet to find answers - why was this book so long? It was just another M&B set to Indian context - desi life in NJ, a widow battling lonliness, the Indo-Brit knight in shining armor who sweeps the girl off, the match making family, the ex who calls at the "correct" time to raise doubts - a topic done to death.
I was expecting something different and this book was just a disappointment.
This book was delightful and entertaining...nothing heavy which is sometimes just what you need on a holiday weekend...truly a pleasurable read. I will definitely consider Shobhan Bantwal's other books on India.
After riding on a high of reading good books (Big little lies and Two and a half Rainbows), I picked up this book knowing it might be a very straightforward read. One can kind of make a estimated guess about the story. This is a story involving a young Indian widow and a handsome somebody with regular spices added in between which kind of makes a Bollywood setting for the book. The book has been set in Little India, a Indian shopping street in New Jersey.
But few things in the book left me little uncomfortable. Few places where the author stresses about complexion or beauty. It feels too shallow at times. It almost felt like she was trying too hard to bring out complexion, money, external beauty and Indian values as the best.
These are few snippets : “He had smooth white skin. He couldn’t be Indian - not with that complexion and those eyes”
“Jeevan-kaka’s sons were about his age, but none of them were this fair or impressive looking”.
“She couldn’t picture him fathering an illegitimate son. But then, his wife, Chandrika was unattractive, and there was a remote possibility that Jeevan kaka could have strayed. Although why any woman in her right mind, no matter how desperate would go for Jeevan”.
This is just an example of what the main protagonist, our heroine is thinking when she sees the handsome hunk with her uncle. The worst thing that stuck out like a sore thumb was the usage of the phrase “Slave driver”. This seemed downright offensive. Even though the meaning for this phrase is “making people work hard”, somehow the phrase did not feel good while reading. This phrase was used thrice in the book. Once by the heroine for her uncle, once by the hero for his father and other time. I am not sure if I am overreacting but these small things left a bitter after taste. The book was released in 2009 which is fairly recent to discount stuff like this appearing in the book.
Overall this book turned out to be a not such a good read for me.
"His thoughts turned to Anjali, the enigmatic widow with the prickly personality. Although her attitude towards him had warmed appreciably since that first day when she'd made it clear she distrusted him, she was still very much on the defensive." Anjali, 37, is a widow who runs a boutique in the U.S. along with her parents Usha and Mohan. The shop encounters terrible losses. That's when Mohan decides to call his elder brother Jeevan, from India, so that he could help them financially and also provide some suggestions. Anjali is much against this idea as she hated her uncle throughout her life. Since Jeevan was the eldest in the family, he had a strict control over everyone and wanted things to be done in his favor. Jeevan comes along with Rishi, 42. He introduces him as his business partner. Anjali feels that there is some mutual understanding between the two of them since day one. Jeevan and Rishi analyze the whole situation and agree to become partners to their boutique with a share of 51%. They also plan to expand the business. It so happens that Anjali and Rishi start developing feelings towards each other. When things are running smoothly, Rishi proposes to Anjali for marriage. But, everything goes haywire. What happens to their relationship and the business later on? I totally loved the writing. The plot and every character is portrayed very well. It isn't like one of those typical love stories that would bore someone. My favorite character in the book was Jeevan, because we often judge people by their actions, but everyone has a soft side in them, which we fail to understand.
Since the death of her husband, 27 year old Anjali Kapadia has devoted herself to ensuring her parents sari shop is turned into a beautiful and chic boutique. A decade on, Anjali is proud of her accomplishments but behind the exquisite doors of the shop lies the truth that it is heading towards bankruptcy.
When wealthy businessman Rishi Shah comes to the rescue, his handsome looks, charming smile and cool gray eyes leave Anjali feeling an immediate attraction. Afraid to be hurt again, Anjali tries to fight her love for Rishi, but just as she begins to give him her heart, secrets from his past threaten to shatter all her dreams.
Published 11 years ago, this was one of the first ever books I read which had Desi (Indian) representation in it. I discovered it 6 years ago and from then to now, there has been an incredible growth in books, both in YA and Fiction that bring out Desi voices and stories in beautiful and meaningful ways! I am immensely thankful to the authors that do this effectively as it allows a window into my world that I can connect with whilst showing perspectives of my culture to the wider reading community.
37-year-old Angali is a widow still grieving her late husband. To keep her mind occupied, she joins her parents in managing their bustling sari boutique in Little India, New Jersey. But after many years, the family business is on the brink of bankruptcy. So her parents look for help from an unlikely source… Uncle Jeevan.
But this cantankerous old man from India doesn’t come alone. He drags with him a mysterious handsome businessman from London. Suave & charismatic, Rishi dives into the boutique rescue project like it’s his own. But it’s the strange relationship between Uncle Jeevan and Rishi that causes Angeli to keep her guard up. Can Angeli let go of her distrust and love another man since her late husband?
Be warned: in this novel you’ll be handed many stereotypes of widows and Indian girls, not to mention the colourism that exists in our culture (the book didn’t need that). But if you’re looking for a light, easy read with a little romance, then this is a fair ‘time-pass’.
By the title of this book I actually thought it would be a book based on strong plot which revolved around a woman’s career. But it rather turned out to be revolving around a damsel in distress only to be saved by a half Indian and half Brit Rich “mysteriously sexy” businessman. Anjali needed savings all the time and I don’t know what even Rishi was! He just broke his 5 year long relationship which he called “an arrangement” just like that. Two so called matured adults, Anjali in her late 30’s and Rishi in his early 40’s needed their whole family (their dying uncle included) to help them get together after a stupid misunderstanding. It was so lame reading the part where everybody is asking Anjali to trust Rishi except Rishi! I mean what is going on? God! Guys grow up and for gods sake talk! This was not even a relationship problem, just Anjali being stubborn and stupid.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I pretty much enjoyed everything about this book except for the abrupt ending. I just felt like there should have been a little bit more to it in regards to Anjali and Rishi's relationship progression. However, I'm thinking that there could definitely be a second book so perhaps that's why it ended the way it did. Either way, this was a really good smooth flowing storyline and it definitely kept me intrigued and wanting to continue reading. Hard to put down really. I would have given this 4 1/2 stars if possible. Quick and easy summer read!
Wow - this book was so much better than I expected! A fast, fun and highyly enjoyable summer read!!
It was lovely - the characters were well developed, the description of Indian family relationship intertwined with Western culture and the diversity in cultural expectations, and the writing style all created an easy to read and fully enjoyable book! Anjali and Rishi were fantastic, as were Usha, Jeevan-kaka, Nilish and Mohan.
A fun romance with a different perspective. Not a lot of romances has nonwhite protagonists nor explores mixed raced characters. This book has a predictable plot, but in a comforting way; like having hot soup on a cold day. A lot of the cultural, familial, and business commentary is secondary in this book because it is first-and-foremost a romance novel.
Really glad that I didn’t read the reviews before reading this book. It’s a nice easy read. It is a romance novel, set in the USA - the complication comes from culture as much as it comes from the typical “love you/hate you” drama. This book isn’t complicated, it isn’t high literature, and I don’t think it’s meant to be. I liked it quite a bit.
A young Indian-American Widow navigates herself between two cultures after the death of her husband with the compassionate support of her family.
The family owned boutique, Silk and Sapphires, which is located in Edison NJ “Little India”, is the cornerstone of their daily life. The description of the beautiful fabrics and jewelry will make you want to exchange your LBD for a colorful Sari. The Masala chai and Golden milk will have you running over to Whole Foods for the ingredients.
The story of a family that perseveres together through financial problems, death and illness, traditional beliefs vs modern living, with lots of good food and love.