Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Book Review: The Dowry Bride

The Dowry BrideThe Dowry Bride by Shobhan Bantwal

Publisher: Kensington Books

Category: Lit

Challenges: What’s in a Name, SAAC

Synopsis: Megha is a young woman in India who finds out that her mother-in-law wants her killed as her father has failed to pay the dowry that was promised.

My Thoughts: The story was very compelling and brought to light a very important topic, unfortunately, I felt that the book was both predictable and at times badly written. The dialogue was clunky at times (and I am the queen of clunky dialogue), for example:

“I trust you completely, Kiran, but Amma is a vindictive woman. I’ve lived with her for the past year. When she wants something, nobody can stop her. She’s like a rock hurtling down a steep mountain.” (105)

At this point it has already been established that Amma is a very nasty person but Bantwal seems to be bent on hammering it home. She also doesn’t seem to trust that her readers can understand, or don’t need to understand certain things, such as when she enumerates the foods that Kiran and Megha eat:

Kiran watched with amused contentment Megha eat the rich mkhani chicken curry, alu matar or potatoes with peas, the hot, puff bread called naan, and the rice pulau and salad. (114)

To me passages like this feel very wordy and unnecessary and really took away from my enjoyment of the book. I had similar problems with The Forbidden Daughter last year and I am beginning to think that this authors writing style just doesn’t work for me. I really wish it did though, because I love stories she tells.

I did enjoy the basic story and actually read the whole book in an afternoon. I wanted so much for Megha to be okay, she was a very likeable character. Her desires were completely disregarded by those around her and yet she tried so hard to please them. I did find it a tad unnecessary that she needed a man to save her. I wish she could have been a bit more independent, at the same time I understand that in the culture where the book is set it might not have been possible for her to have more independence.

The issue of dowries and dowry brides that Bantwal brings up is a very important one with regards to women’s rights. Bantwal shows how the young brides are put to the mercy of her husbands family and how badly these families can treat the brides if the dowry is not paid in a timely manner, or if the girls fail to produce a child. Although there are laws against dowries these laws are ignored and disregarded and the girls are put in a very vulnerable position.

Overall the stylistic choices the author makes mean that I will probably not be reading any more of her books, even though I thought the story fantastic and the themes important.

CymLowell

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Copyright ©2011 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

4 comments:

Cathy said...

I just finished "The Unexpected Son", and absolutely loved the book. I am now curious to see if I share the same feelings about her other books as you. Thank you for the heads up.

irisonbooks said...

The story she tells in this book sounds really interesting, but I think I might have the same issues with the style. Maybe we should go on the lookout for books that combine great stories with enjoyable style?

Booksnyc said...

I read Forbidden Daughter and liked the book because it was a quick read and covered an interesting subject but I agree with your comments about style. I will probably give this one a try too.

If you like books set in India, I highly recommend The Secret Daughter by Shlipi Somaya Gowda. It has a similar premise as Forbidden Daughter but the writing is excellent!

Zee said...

@Booksnyc I have The Secret Daughter on my TBR pile I have such high hopes for it since it seems to fall on everyone's favourite lists.