Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: The Sari Shop Widow

The Sari Shop Widow
By Shobhan Bantwal
Publication date: September 2009

My review:

After the tragic death of Anjali's husband Vikram after only a few years of marriage, Anjali is devasated and she moves back in with her parents. Eventually she finds solace in turning their sari shop into a thriving boutique store, selecting the best of the best. She is shocked when she discovers ten years later that her beloved shop is in serious financial trouble. Her parents also drop a further bombshell: her dad has called on her uncle Jeevan to come from India to see if he can help. Jeevan is known for being controlling and Anjali is horrified that he is going to step in. She is certain that Jeevan will ruin everything. Then when he arrives, she is surprised to find that he has brought a business partner with him, the devastatingly handsome Rishi Shah. Sparks fly between Rishi and Anjali even as he makes changes around the store. Can the shop be saved and will Anjali's heart finally begin to heal?

Anjali is a somewhat modern and talented woman. She is creative and good at what she does. She is also very caring towards her parents and though she is so deep in grief, she pools her savings into their store and helps to give it an image overhaul. Unfortunately while she is good at marketing and selecting fabrics, she does not have a head for business. When Rishi and Jeevan show up, intending to help, she immediately goes on the offensive and behaves a little childishly. While it is understandable that she is worried about her store and her Uncle Jeevan's habits of taking control, it was still disappointing that she refused to listen to reason. Thankfully that changes as she gets to know Rishi and understand Jeevan. Another sour note for me was Anjali's relationship with Kip, a friendship with benefits. For someone who is a grieving widow it is strange that she would turn to such a smarmy guy for comfort/physical needs. Reading about him just made my skin crawl and it did not fit with my understanding of Anjali.

Anjali's romance with Rishi develops quickly. He is much more likeable compared to Kip but he is a kind of "rich/handsome hero to the rescue" for Anjali and his expensive ideas for saving the store seemed like a fantasy. I liked reading about his backstory with Jeevan however. I think one of the best parts of the book was seeing the changes in Jeevan and the family dynamics. Sometimes it is very true that we have an idea of what someone is like and we judge them without knowing the whole story. In a way Jeevan became one of my favorite characters by the end of the book. It was the development with his character that really saved the book for me.

The Sari Shop Widow is a predictable but enjoyable chick lit novel in spite of its flaws. I liked reading about the sari shop and Anjali's family. This book is an improvement compared to The Dowry Bride. The modern setting fits with the character unlike The Dowry Bride where the protagonist's behavior didn't match the setting. If you are looking for a light read with a little bit of Indian cultural reference thrown in, try The Sari Shop Widow. If you want a book that delves more deeply into Indian culture or life for Indian Americans however, pick up the works of Jhumpa Lahiri or Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni instead.

Readalikes: Invisible Lives by Anjali Banerjee, Imaginary Men by Anjali Banerjee, For Matrimonial Purposes by Kavita Daswani, The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan

1 comment:

  1. OoOH I love this sound of this!! Thanks for bringing it to my attention!


Reading Extensively is now an award free blog. Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment. I enjoy receiving feedback! Due to increase in spam, I've enabled comment moderation. Sorry for any inconvenience!