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Monday, August 31, 2009

The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal



The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Contemporary, literary romance
Length: Full (352 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Pungent curry…sweet fried onions…incense…colorful beads…lush fabrics. Shobhan Bantwal’s compelling new novel is set on the streets of Edison, New Jersey’s Little India, where a young businesswoman rediscovers the magic of love and family…

Since becoming a widow at age twenty-seven, Anjali Kapadia has devoted herself to transforming her parents' sari shop into a chic boutique, brimming with exquisite jewelry and clothing. Now, ten years later, it stands out like a proud maharani amid Edison’s bustling Little India. But when Anjali learns the shop is on the brink of bankruptcy, she feels her world unraveling…

To the rescue comes Anjali’s wealthy, dictatorial Uncle Jeevan and his business partner, Rishi Shah—a mysterious Londoner, complete with British accent, cool gray eyes, and skin so fair it makes it hard to believe he’s Indian. Rishi’s cool, foreign demeanor triggers distrust in Anjali and her mother. But for Anjali, he also stirs something else, a powerful attraction she hasn’t felt in a decade. And the feeling is mutual…

Love disappointed Anjali once before and she’s vowed to live without it—though Rishi is slowly melting her resolve and, as the shop regains its footing, gaining her trust. But when a secret from Rishi’s past is revealed, Anjali must turn to her family and her strong cultural upbringing to guide her in finding the truth.

Anjali, the lovely widow from India, and her wonderful boutique in New Jersey form the center for the interesting culture study featured in "The Sari Shop Widow." This novel is rich and the descriptions tactile; you will hear, smell, and feel all the details, from traditional foods to clothing. Indeed, tradition, and respect for tradition, form a part of the plot.

Like the gentle aura created by Silk & Sapphire's background music, 'The Sari Shop Widow,' sets a lovely tone, through word choice and imagery, and manages to maintain it throughout. The traditions of the culture - and the tradition of respect withing the family, all play a crucial role. It is interesting to find acceptance in the main character, at times and during events where you yourself feel frustration or impatience.

Rishi, although with full awareness of the traditions, is also more of a product of western civilization, and he seems at times to be the perfect solution. He's not as hide-bound as some, more open to ideas... and we quickly understand Anjala's interest in him. His business acumen is another bonus. And, in the gym 'Anju' cannot help but notice his physique...but is he ready to commit to her? Or is his interest merely a matter of helping this family.

This is far from a typical romance with, at times, wordy background descriptions and also sections of interior monologue. It is however, quite beautiful, and very readable. If a romance fan is looking for something a bit slower, and an immersion in a particular culture, one could hardly find a better choice.







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