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January Round Up

Monthly Mini Review (well, kind of)

back view of a woman with long dark hair in a purple dress standing on a balcony in a white palace overlooking far away snowy mountain peaksThe Far Pavilions by MM Kaye, narrated by Vikas Adam.

The narration by Vikas Adam is excellent.

I picked the audiobook up last year in a sale, largely due to the narrator.

The story is full of colonialism and very not okay things however so I can’t recommend it. I read the book many years ago before I knew much about anything (I was about 15 I think) and it was an interesting “experiment” to reread/listen to it now when I have somewhat of a clue. (I realise the privilege inherent in that statement.) Nobody really needs my white lady hot take on the detail though. I guess it’s a book which shows how shitty white people have been to Brown people but I think that kind of book would be better written by a Brown person. South Asian opinion about the book is much more important than anything I have to say about it.

I’m not giving the book a star. I can’t in good conscience rate it highly but the narration is very good – honestly just about everything Vikas Adam did with the performance was flawless. There were only a couple of words which revealed he’s an South Asian-American rather than South Asian-Brit but that’s hardly a thing to worry about given how much was good about his narration. But I can’t rate the book based on the narration alone. Hence, no rating.

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

AbollywoodaffairWhy I read it:  I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years—not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America for eight months, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be—if her husband would just come and claim her.

Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naïve village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. Open-hearted yet complex, she’s trying to reconcile her independence with cherished traditions. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life—cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I admit I’m not a big Harlequin Presents reader.  While I don’t mind reading about the occasional rich alphahole, many of the HPs I’ve tried have not worked for me because the power differential in the relationship is too great – perhaps I’ve tried the wrong ones but the alphahole vs the innocent doormat ingenue mostly doesn’t work for me (Not that I’m saying that all HPs are like that.  I don’t think that is the case).  A Bollywood Affair isn’t a HP, but I think it’s a close cousin.  It seems to me to fit within the common tropes and themes within the line, while at the same time being somewhat fresh and different to the usual fare. I didn’t personally find that it subverted tropes.  It seemed to me to stick fairly closely within them but it mostly did this in an entertaining way which I enjoyed, but did not adore.

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