From the title and the pretty book cover, this book caught my eye and definitely piqued my interest. As someone who is always interested in learning and understanding different cultures, this felt like the perfect book to read. A curious and unique premise, I had really high hopes for this book but in the end I felt that this was a miss.
Read on to see my final thoughts on the book.
Pub Date: March 9, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Number of Pages: 304
Add To Shelf: GOODREADS
The story is about Nikki, a first-generation Punjabi who lives in West London, England. Despite having very traditional and conservative parents, Nikki has spent most of her life actively distancing herself from the Sikh community as she prefers to live a more Western life.
When her father’s death leaves her family in a financial crisis, she becomes determined to find a job to help keep her family afloat. Nikki impulsively takes on a creative writing job at a Sikh temple only for her to discover that her students are mostly Punjabi widows who have no basic English literacy. She realizes that these widows are mostly looking to kill their boredom, now that they no longer have a husband to care for at home.
When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories and shares it with the class, it emboldens the widows to share about their own personal fantasies. Soon, Nikki’s class becomes a catalyst for these women to have their stories heard as they are now only discovering their freedom of expression after years of being in their husband’s shadow.
As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns the widows to keep this as a secret to the Brothers, a group of conservative men who are enforcing morality in the Sikh community. Through the widows, Nikki uncovers some shocking insights into the death of a young wife in the community, eventually sparking a scandal that threatens them all.
When I found this book, the title definitely piqued my interest. The synopsis sounded interesting and liberating but unfortunately this was a miss for me. I like learning and reading about a culture that is completely unfamiliar to me, but I felt that this was a little all over the place.
It was still a very entertaining read, but I think it lacks some depth and structure. I think the author had a good premise of a story but there was just a lot going on that the intentions and direction of the book were lost.
This book talks about the challenges that many immigrants face when it comes to family & traditions, and the clash of the East vs West cultures. It talks about arranged marriages, stigma and expectations of women’s roles, etc. I was very interested in the cultural elements of the story, but then there’s also a murder mystery, moral policing, and of course the erotic stories by the Punjabi widows. Honestly it just sounded like a group of older women who like to gossip and share their fantasies to each other. It was honestly a really weird and confusing read!
After much thought, I am still giving this book a generous 3 stars for all the positive things that I’ve described above. I would have rated it higher if there was more structure to it. Overall, this was an okay read.