I picked up this Book as my third one from the author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I was fantasized by the feeling of reading all her books since the time I finished these exemplary ones- The Mistress of Spices and The Palace of Illusions (which I have reviewed here). But this one broke my heart and shattered my dream of sinking in another supposed great work of hers.
This book is a collection of short stories on arranged marriages. But let me first tell you, it is not solely about "arranged" marriages, but marriages, and not even marriages, sometimes complicated relationships. It highlights the vices like live-in, infidelity, affairs,suffering, pain, injustice to women, distress etc. I was expecting it to be a collection of sweet and sour stories of arranged marriages in India, of which some might be successful and some unfortunate. But this is entirely different, not even a single story created aura of positivity- all ridden of happiness. Moreover, most of them are not narratives of India but mostly of the US- Indians, mostly Bengalis in the US.
However, if asked to choose some stories which I liked a bit are- The Maid Servant and Meeting Mrinal, which are little lengthy but captivating. After every installment of reading the book, I felt dull and gloomy, and upset for no reason! It gives off a negative vibe. Strangely, people have given so good reviews to this on the web that I was hopeful that at least the subsequent story would be different, but disappointed later.
The way marriages are portrayed here let you feel as if arranged marriages are the worst that can happen to women in India, with a demanding spouse, atrocious in-laws and the patriarchal mindset of Indian culture. It almost did not focus on the other side of it, which is progressive and fairer to women.
I give it 2 on 5 stars and do not recommend this book to anyone.
(PS: the reviews expressed here are based on my personal reading experience, and do not intend to defame, derate or
degrade the sale or vice-versa for the book. I am not paid for writing this review.)
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