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The Marriage Bureau for Rich People [Kindle Edition]

Farahad Zama
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $4.01 (27%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

Bored with retirement, Mr. Ali sets up a desk, puts up a sign, and waits for customers for his new matchmaking business. Some clients are a mystery. Some are a challenge. Mr. Ali's assistant, Aruna, finds it a learning experience. But without a dowry, Aruna has no expectation of a match for herself. Then again, as people go about planning their lives, sometimes fate is making other arrangements.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A thriving arranged-marriage bureau in contemporary India resides at the heart of Zama's charming debut. The customers who visit Mr. Ali's bureau—a project he began in retirement to pass the time—are mostly pragmatists: they look for mates based on height, complexion, caste, economic status and religion. As business picks up, Mr. Ali, a Muslim, takes on a young assistant, Aruna, a poor Hindu girl, who helps him formulate happy unions. While the bureau prospers, Mr. Ali and his wife contend with their headstrong son, a human rights advocate who worries them constantly, and Aruna faces her dismal home life and a handsome young client who may want more from her than lists of potential matches. Zama's strength is in showing the love that makes the matchmaking system possible, looking at the reciprocity, trust and devotion that underlie marriage. Though the dialogue can tend toward the wooden and some problems work out too tidily, Zama's delightful world of mid-morning tea breaks, afternoon siestas, picnics in mango groves and meddlesome aunties is a pleasant place to hang out. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Zama’s debut novel captivates the reader as an entertaining chronicle of a contemporary Indian matchmaking service and as insightful commentary on the lingering dictates of religion and class in modern India. Mr. and Mrs. Ali live in Vizag, on India’s eastern coast. Several years into his retirement, Mr. Ali grows bored, so he opens a marriage bureau, where the city’s well-to-do can come to find the perfect match for their offspring based on their unique requirements as to caste, religion, dowry amount, age, and height. The business flourishes, forcing Mr. Ali to hire an assistant, Aruna, a young woman whose family’s financial collapse forced her to give up her postgraduate studies and go to work. Aruna has a knack for making even the most difficult matches—failing only to find a young woman for a wealthy young doctor with especially picky parents. Zama sprinkles his lively narrative with morsels of everyday life and age-old traditions, from marriage and burial rituals to the making of mung-bean crepes—all of which enrich and enliven his simple and engaging plot. --Deborah Donovan

Product Details

  • File Size: 491 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0399155589
  • Publisher: Berkley; 1 edition (June 11, 2009)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0028T82M4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,575 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little bit of India brought home June 13, 2009
"What does an Indian man with a wealth of common sense do when his retirement becomes too monotonous for him to stand it? Open a marriage bureau, of course!"

Thus starts The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, a fantastic book that tells the story of Mr. Ali and his small, yet extremely popular, marriage bureau. What starts out as a part time endeavor, flourishes quickly. The book showcases a brilliant cast of characters including Mr. Ali, the careful and kind business manager; Mrs. Ali, his strong and maternal wife; Aruna the full-time assistant to the bureau who's working through her own family-and non-existent marriage-problems; and a slew of people looking for the perfect match.

The customers, albeit important, are just the background to the true story. The young Aruna cannot get married due to her family's financial problems. She works to support them and without her salary, they cannot get by. And without money, they can't pay for the elaborate wedding or necessary dowry the husband's family will expect. While that is happening, Mr. and Mrs. Ali deal with their son, Rehman, a freedom fighter who's trying to stop a giant conglomerate from building on farmers' lands. As he fights for the rights of others, he forgets the feelings of his parents. And in India, you never disrespect your elders.

An underlining theme of the book is what makes a marriage work. To this day, the caste system is still going strong in India. One doesn't marry outside of their caste, and one very rarely marries for love. Instead, through family members, an appropriate match is made. But what's better? A marriage that appeases the family, or one that appeases the husband and wife?

What I found most endearing about the book was the role of Mrs. Ali.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not like Jane Austen, but a delighful romance July 1, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Let me get this off my chest: The "like Jane Austen" marketing label attached to _The Marriage Bureau for Rich People_, is merely that: A marketing label. The only similarity is that both Jane Austen and Farahad Zama are among thousands of writers who have written novels about romance that have happy conclusions. A better marketing label might be "chick lit." If you are a Westerner wanting to read a cheerful, light, but moral romance set in a well-explained modern India, this novel is for you.

Mr. Ali has grown bored in his retirement from civil service, and sets up a marriage bureau in his little house in a large city. The bureau differs from a traditional matchmaking service in that it advertises in newspapers for potential mates for its clients, then screens them before turning the rest of the matchmaking process over to relatives and lastly, to the parties most concerned. The bureau deals with Hindu, Muslim, and Christian clients--who always want to marry others of the same religion, socioeconomic status, and in the case of the Hindus, caste and subcaste.

Mr. Ali observes that his clients come to a marriage bureau because they have problems. They (or their relatives) are too particular, they (or their relatives) are difficult to get along with, they are bad at selling themselves, they have small dowries or incomes, they may even be divorced. Mr. Ali behaves like a kindly, responsible uncle towards them all. He negotiates demands between parties and constantly urges compromise in requirements for mates, in family and interfamily interactions, and in the promises all parties make to each other, so that most clients achieve promising marriages.

Several stories about such clients are woven into two main stories. One main story is Mr. and Mrs.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly Charming June 28, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Comparisons to Jane Austen always make me take a second glance (which is deleterious to my reading health, because most of the time, the comparison is beyond bogus). This book deserves a comparison--not because of the writing, which is satirical and clever but occasionally awkward--but because it gives us a glimpse into a society which is as mannered and as far from most Americans' world as Jane Austen's is.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People is a third-person narrative that focuses on the Ali family. Mr. Ali (think Mr. Bennet) is retired and getting into his wife's hair, so when he starts his marriage bureau, she supports his efforts. Mr. Ali's emotional intelligence and perseverance lead to success and his needing to hire an assistant, and his wife (who is far superior to Mrs. Bennet in just about all ways) finds him a wonderful assistant, Aruna.

Aruna is an educated young woman who has had to put her dreams of marriage on hold because of her family's monetary losses. She has initiative and humor and, in many ways, parallels Elizabeth Bennet--she refuses her Mr. Darcy, but he does ask again.

Read the book to find out how she answers him--and about the other characters who people this very charming book. As I've mentioned, the writing is not always smooth. It is jarring when the characters slip into modern English colloquialism, such as when Mr. Ali is going to join "the guys" for a day, but these annoyances are minor when compared to the pleasures of Mr. Ali's humorous encounter with a Christian missionary, which is both amusing and wise.

As is this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 1 month ago by Jasmine P. Skees
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother reading this.
Usually, I continue reading a book if it keeps my interest up to page 100. I read the first 132 pages of this novel, but it failed to grab me. Read more
Published 1 month ago by ADAM
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, and well written.
A charming and fun read.
Published 2 months ago by Elaine Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars ... credit to the author for describing some of the finer details of...
Got to give credit to the author for describing some of the finer details of Indian customs, traditions etc. The story is well woven.
Published 3 months ago by si27
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT READ - GREAT GIFT
This book is an excellent, excellent read! I have given it as a gift several times with great feedback. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sarah Summers
4.0 out of 5 stars A Lot Of Elements That Many Readers Can Relate To
Mr. Ali retires from working for the city and in a fit of frustration and annoyance, Mrs. Ali insists on him finding something to do already! Read more
Published 4 months ago by EpicFehlReader
3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the book and learned much about the Indian culture
I enjoyed the book and learned much about the Indian culture. I liked how the author mixed facts, traditions, humor and romance into the story. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Eileen Gavagan
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
this was a book club pick. this ok
Published 6 months ago by Alice H. Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars I really liked this book - it was a very quick read ...
I really liked this book - it was a very quick read and the story line was refreshing and interesting.
Published 6 months ago by Whitney Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars Learned a great deal about a culture I know so little about
What a delightful read. Characters were strong and interesting. Learned a great deal about a culture I know so little about.
Published 6 months ago by adele W. Weiler
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