After reading Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows and really enjoying it, I was so excited to receive the ARC for this one. This book turned out to be quite different from what I was expecting but it was nevertheless, a very interesting read.
Rajni is the eldest sister, a school principal who likes rules and everything to be in an orderly fashion. However, she was not always like this and things that happened in her past completely changed her attitude and now when things are again uncertain in her life, she is not sure how to handle everything. Jezmeen is a struggling actress who’s just lost her job and gone infamously viral. She also has always been a rebel and resists every attempt by Rajni to follow their pilgrimage schedule and resents her sister for being so strict. Shirina has always tried to be the perfect daughter but felt too invisible in her own home and being scared of any confrontations has left her as the person who always adjusts and makes sure everyone else is happy. I could relate to some parts of each of these sisters and it made the reading experience quite surreal – sometimes nostalgic and sometimes even uncomfortable.
The writing is as usual very engaging. The author uses the stories of these three sisters to give us a picture of immigrant life in Britain, the clash of cultures between traditional parents and their British born kids and sometimes, even the second generation immigrant kids. Through the trip that the characters take, we see a different view of India too – how the noise and crowds can sometimes feel overwhelming; even after so much development, how the sexism and misogyny is so ingrained that it manifests in everyday little things; how female foeticide in parts of India is still rampant and sometimes, these ideas don’t disappear just because someone has immigrated to a more modern country. The author also manages to give us a nuanced portrait of the relationship between three sisters – who were not close while growing up and even held resentments towards each other, but being in close proximity after the death of their mother forces them to acknowledge their issues and maybe pave the way for a better relationship going forward. It’s also great to see them have each other’s back despite any lingering issues.
This book is a very interesting portrayal of family dynamics and sisterhood, traditional vs modern thinking and how it affects our everyday life. It’s a very honest picture of three sister’s lives told with drama, humor and mystery which makes for a fascinating read. I would definitely recommend this one if you enjoyed the author’s previous book and are interested in depictions of the myriad of issues that women face in everyday life.
PS: Thank you to William Morrow and Edelweiss for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are solely mine and unbiased.