MARRIAGE UNARRANGED by Ritu Bhathal : A Review

 

 

41RSRN4EudL-1   Blogging friend Ritu Bhathal, whom I had read previously as a poet (Poetic Ritual) and appreciated and enjoyed, has written a novel. Its characters are lovely Indian-British young people.  Aashi, the bride-to-be and her family: brothers Sunny and Bali, the perfect mom and pop, best friend Kiran are awaiting the nuptials of Aashi and Ravi, her fiancee.

As the story opens, Aashi arrives unexpectedly at Ravi’s apartment, catching him and his “other girlfriend” in the act. Devastated, Aashi refuses to give up her dream trip to India to prepare for the wedding, and instead embarks with both brothers and Kiran rather than waste the tickets. Their itinerary has just changed–not to plan a wedding but to cancel plans already made. The friends meet handsome Arjun on a train, and drag him along on the errands adding much hilarity and communications blunders.

The book is filled with travel, glamor, fashion and adventure as the five young people encounter the culture and people of India. The most spectacular scene occurs at the Golden Temple where the group explores and observes religious observances involving bathing in the beautiful pools and working in the temple kitchens, doing sewa. So many characters with so many motivations and differences could be confusing, but the author conveniently titles each chapter with a character’s name, then presents both that character’s point of view and his/her plot twists and character changes which makes it easy for the reader to follow the amazingly glamorous trips, photo shoots, and buying excursions as the young people make their way.

This is a read where the reader comes to really care about the characters and the outcomes of the plots and subplots. It all comes to a very satisfying conclusion which the author promises to flesh out in a sequel. I, for one, can hardly wait to read more.

FIRST LINE FRIDAYS

The idea is to copy the first line of a book to see if it grabs another reader. This meme is hosted by Hoarding Books and Wandering Words. Place YOUR first line along with the title and author of the book it comes from and play along.

Here is the first line of Anna Quindlen’s Alternate Side:

” ‘Just look at that,” Charlie Nolan said, his arm extended like that of a maitre d‘ indicating a particularly good table.”

Whatever it is, it pleases Charlie and also his wife Nora. It is something they have wanted since moving in to the dead-end block, their “tranquil village amid the urban craziness,” as described by the book’s cover. This was a book set in New York that I had intended to read after seeing for myself what New Yorkers were like during my girlfriends’ weekend in The Big Apple this past March 19th-23rd. Obviously, that trip was cancelled, but I can still read about NYC as I begin this novel by one of my favorite NY Times bestselling authors.

WWW WEDNESDAY

img_1384-0 WHAT books have you just finished? WHAT are you reading currently? WHAT will you read next?, and I will add, WHAT have you watched? These are the questions Miz B at Daily Rhythms initiated and Sam at Taking on a World of Words now asks as she hosts this fun meme.

It has been so long since I’ve played this “game” but here are my answers for Wednesday, May 27th, 2020.

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978052565333251xiwfeZsnL._SL300_ It was a good week to read, and I finished all these: three novels, a memoir, a collection of short story/fantasy urban legends, and two non-fiction books. One, Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic, I started from scratch; the others I had already begun. Kristin Higgins was a new author to me.

9780451489395 WHAT are you continuing to read? Two novels, 51cJvgfnQ6L._SY346_ WSleepless_(novel) WHAT I will read next is the book for “M” of my 2020 Alphabet Soup Challenge, then I’ll continue going through a box full of samples for various writing manuals My Better Half found in a discard pile, “stealing” ideas, and enjoying the essays in the “Reader” sections.

WHAT I have watched in addition to a movie here and there on Netflix is PBS’s World On Fire, a fantastic series about WWII set in Germany, Russia, Poland and Britain, as well as resistance pockets throughout Europe. It is a fine series.

FRIDAY FIRSTLINERS/More Tween Treasures

Friday Firstliners is a take off on First Line Fridays hosted simultaneously by Hoarding Books and Wandering Words. The first line I’m featuring today should sound familiar to many southerners who have read coming of age stories like To Kill a Mockingbird. Kate DiCamillo’s Because  of Winn Dixie is a delightful coming of age story that opens…

“My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes, and I came back with a dog.”

This was a favorite of my 6th through 8th graders, boys and girls alike, and presented some of the most memorable characters in tween and teen books. Themes of “friendship, community and fellowship”are presented as only a book set in a small town in the Deep South can do.

I highly recommend this book.

TWEEN TREASURES

418-JybCiwL    Carolyn Macklin has written about a problem many tweens face in Not if I Can Help It,  remarriage. However, there is a twist–Willa’s father wants to marry Ruby’s (Willa’s best friend’s) mother. Both girls are heading to middle school as sixth graders, and all their friends, teachers, and even the principal think the situation is “cool.” Willa does not agree. How to handle the girls’ mutual friends and Ruby’s excited anticipation of becoming “sisters” is a bitter pill to swallow!9781250166784

All the Ways Home by Elsie Chapman presents a boy’s story. Kaeda, a Japanese Canadian is in 8th grade, facing the strong possibility that he will have to repeat 8th grade in the fall, when his mother is unexpectedly killed in a car crash. Facing the unpleasant fact that he may have to live with his surly grandfather, Kaeda travels to Japan to plead with his much-older musician brother, Shoma. Kaeda has a summer to get his life on track in a challenge few boys his age must face.

UnknownMaggie “saves” little things, anchors to keep her Altzheimer’s-afflicted grandmother grounded. She refuses to let her mom or anyone throw her “treasures” away. This is a story of “loss” and “leavings”; it is a story of anxiety and hoarding in children, a real and challenging problem.

 

 

I DID IT!

shopping-1ALPHABET-SOUP-2020-AUTHOR-EDITION-BE-820 I did it!! All 500+ (800+ for large print) pages!! And what a delight it was. There were many “faces” I’d met in documentaries and historical books about WWII, and the stamina of the English citizens made me proud for my grandmother’s people.

Larson never ceases to amaze me; his non-fiction facts are strung together in a way that makes his books read like a novel, tracing threads of family drama, political intrigue and biographical characterization.  I have read and enjoyed several of Larson’s books, but this one was as fascinating as it was informative. I never lost interest or was bored. I loved following the career and love-life of Churchill’s daughter,Mary and was entertained by the excesses his wife, Clementine put up with from The Prime Minister.

Any WWII fan will enjoy this book, but so will readers who enjoy a “darned good read.”

TUESDAY TEASER

Tuesday Teaser, hosted by The Purple Booker invites readers to post a few random lines from your current read in hopes of “teasing” others to add it to their TBR list.

My Tuesday Teaser for Tuesday, May 19th is from Susan Vreeland’s Lisette’s List:

“One morning Pascal thudded down his coffee bowl and pushed himself upright. ‘I’m going to the ochre quarries. The colors glow at this hour’

‘No Papa. The cliffs are too dangerous.’

‘Don’t tell me what to do. And don’t follow me.’

I burst out crying.”

This novel is one of seven novels Susan Vreeland wrote in her lifetime, each focused around some aspect of art. I plan to read aloe them.  This is the fourth I’ve read.

If you would like to leave a “tease” for this blog’s readers, please enter it in the Reply section. Be sure to mention title of book and author. No spoilers, please.