rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
The first thing I noticed about this book is the change of style: not the first-person past-tense of Zoya and Jinni, but a third-person present-tense, and a more formal register (though still the enjoyable lightness and humour that I've come to expect from Chauhan). The second thing is that the setting is not contemporary late-noughties, but rather earlier. Technology, politics & current affairs, fashion & music all date it to the mid-eighties, finally confirmed by a character's birth date and age.

This is a Chauhan novel, and the expectations I've formed from the previous two books are not disappointed. There is a large cast of distinctive, vividly-drawn characters. There's a lot of humour and witty dialogue. There are amusing/infuriating family dynamics. There's a central romance. And there's something rather more serious alongside what might be dismissed as "fluffy chicklit" - in Zoya it was cricket, celebrity culture and superstition; in Bittora it was politics & poverty; in Thakur Girls it's mass killings, ministerial corruption and the freedom of the press.

I've seen this described as "Pride & Prejudice in India" and all I can think is it's a lazy linkage of "five daughters, romance, must be P&P". Three of the five daughters are married at the start of the novel, the mother has kind good sense, the father does not abdicate his responsibilities, and the fate of the family house is not in question. There is rather more wilfully not-communicating-feelings than I really like, and at least one completely unnecessary blow-up over an unreceived letter. Apart from those all-too-common romance tropes, this is yet another excellently entertaining read.

The back of the book says a sequel is coming, The House that BJ Built, starring the people who are children in this book. It isn't published yet, but you can bet I'll be looking out for it.

My thanks as always to [personal profile] deepad for her Anuja Chauhan Reading Club, which has introduced me to a new favourite author.


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

September 2017

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