There was much more to this story than I anticipated when I picked it up. The spicy stories were there but also a strong picture of immigrant life was painted. To touch on honour killings and foul play was brave for a seemingly lighthearted tale. Being raised conservative Christian, I resonated with the taboos and outright suppression female of longing. So to hear these women find themselves in that respect was refreshing and overdue. Unique read. I really enjoyed it.
March 7 2018: Reese Witherspoon has a new book club pick, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal.
What a fun and funny book. Jaswal highlights the cultural divide between east and west in Southall London. The exploration of intolerance, honour crimes, and women's rights bring a seriousness to this story that also explores feminine sexuality at any age.
Nikki is a 22 year old drifter. She hasn't figured out what to do with herself and finds herself taking on what she believes to be a writing class at a community centre in the heart of London's Punjabi community. That is not what the widows who have signed up thought they were learning and it transitions into something else. Something you'd never imagine the female elders of any community discussing. There is the threat of a morality police, the class being shut down, Nikki's love life and family, and despite the less than savory bits it was great fun to read with a whole lot to chat about.
This book was a great idea, but it needed a more skilled writer. I feel like it couldn't decide between being domestic or contemporary fiction, chick lit, romance, or mystery. Not that you have to stick to one genre, but this didn't mesh properly. It isn't a terrible book: it's a compulsive read, in part because the protagonist is sympathetic, and for the cast of characters that revolves around her. One might say there are too many characters to truly care about :) and this is true, but that also helps it be a quick read. If you want a light chick-lit-romantic-mystery with a hint of identity crisis and self-actualization of the adrift college drop-out, this book's your guy.
I'd check out Jaswal's next book, so...meh. I like South Asian fiction and novels about culture clash.
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