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.

THE BOOKSHOP OF YESTERDAYS by Amy Meyerson: A Review

This charming 2018 novel grabbed my attention at my local library when I picked up the large print book on display and read,

“Miranda Brooks grew up in the stacks of her eccentric Uncle Billy’s bookshop, solving the scavenger hunts he created just for her. But on her 12th birthday, Billy has a falling- out with her mother and disappears from Miranda’s life. Sixteen years later, she receives unexpected news: Uncle Billy has died and left her Prospero Books, which is teetering on bankruptcy and one final scavenger hunt.  Returning to the bookstore as its owner, Miranda is drawn into a journey through Billy’s past –and the terrible secret that tore her family apart.”

Intrigued?  I most certainly was, and the novel did NOT disappoint. It was all it promised to be. I cared about Mirando and Prospero Books wondering and musing at the possible connections to The Tempest, perhaps my favorite Shakespeare play. The “romance angle,” thankfully light, was a bit “predictable” and maybe even “formulaic,” but that did not detract from the family mystery, Miranda’s problematic relationships with her parents, and current boyfriend, or the enjoyable twists and reveals that keeps the reader turning pages late into the night. I rate it a full five out of five and thank the author for a delightful read. Another thank you to whoever wrote the blurb on the back of the LP edition for a lovely, attention-grabbing piece of good writing!