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The Unexpected Son Paperback – August 1, 2010

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The Unexpected Son + The Dowry Bride + The Reluctant Matchmaker
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; 1 edition (August 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758232039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758232038
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #818,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A shocking letter from India sends middle-aged Vinita Patil reeling in Bantwal's (The Dowry Bride) absorbing latest. Living in New Jersey, contentedly married for almost 25 years to Girish, a mechanical engineer with whom she has a daughter, Vinita learns that the illegitimate child she believed was stillborn in India, is alive, suffering from myeloid leukemia, and desperately in need of a bone marrow transplant. Vinita's brother, Vishal, who'd orchestrated the deception and arranged for the baby's adoption, fesses up that Vinta's son, Rohit Barve, is a chemistry professor at Shivraj College, the college where Vinita met Rohit's playboy father, Som Kori, who'd refused to marry her. Vinita and Som's coming from different linguistic groups vying for control of the border town of Palagum, made their union impossible. After Vinita finally meets her grown son, she's disturbed to learn that Som and Rohit's adoptive father are still embroiled in the violent territorial conflict, a situation that adds suspense to the story. This inspiring testament to a mother's enduring love makes for a fascinating tale and provides a window into an equally fascinating culture.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Vinita’s life is upended when an anonymous letter informs her that her son in India has cancer. As a young woman, Vinita became pregnant out of wedlock and was told by her family that the child died at birth. She now lives in the U.S., and her husband and grown daughter are unaware of her past. Vinita is compelled to travel to India to try to help her son, but the man she meets is angry, believing that she willingly abandoned him. Trouble also arises when his adopted father, a political leader, finds out that his son’s biological father is his hated rival. It’s a shame that the novel’s tension is undermined by an all-too-convenient happy ending, because Bantwal, author of The Sari Shop Widow (2009), once again paints a convincing portrait of a woman facing the repercussions of old-fashioned and oppressive social mores. --Aleksandra Walker

Customer Reviews

This will a good, fast paced story with characters you came to care about.
M. O'Malley
I greatly enjoy novels rich in Indian culture like Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy and some of Mistry's works, but this left me flat.
Good Read Seeker
This is also a story of healing family wounds and coming to understanding of why things were done the way they were.
Mary Romero

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on July 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
Middle-aged Vinita and Girish Patil enjoy their middle class lifestyle in suburban New Jersey. Married for almost a quarter of a century, the Indian-American couple has a daughter.

However, Vinita's perfect world shatters when she receives a shocking letter postmarked Mumbai. Inside is a letter informing her that the illegitimate son she birthed stillborn back home in Palgaum, India actually lives. Her brother Vishal admits he orchestrated the hoax for her sake and that of his nephew. Now her first born, Shivraj College chemistry Professor Rohit Barve is dying from leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. Vinita remembers years back when she was pregnant and Rohit's biological father Som Kori refused to marry her as their respective people from differing cultures even languages were feuding. She finds out when she arrives to meet and hopefully help her son they still are.

This excellent contemporary provides strong insight into the Indian-American culture (a trademark of talented Shobhan Bantwal; see The Sari Shop Window), a mother's eternal love for her offspring, and a fascinating "border" war inside a small village in India. Character driven, The Unexpected Son is a super Indian-American tale.

Harriet Klausner
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Debbie's World of Books on January 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
I first saw this book on S. Krishna's Books blog and the cover immediately caught my eye. I've been making an effort to read outside of my comfort zone and this sounded like a great book to start off with. It was a wonderful read and gave an interesting glimpse into a culture that was pretty foreign to me. The story premise was immediately intriguing as a mother myself I cannot imagine going through 30 years of your life not knowing that you had a son and then to find out he is dying. It was shocking to see the types of cultural views and taboos that lead up to this situation and it made me wonder how true this is in today's world in India. In this story it was shocking that preserving the family's reputation was seen as much more important than the happiness of Vinita or even the well being of her child. Then we see how because her family pretended she had a form of cancer and was sent away for treatment instead of admitting she was pregnant she was still viewed as not marriageable and only introduced to men who had some sort of problem like being an alcoholic or a divorcee. All of this makes me want to learn more about the Indian culture to see how true to form the details in this story are.

Vinita was an interesting character because at times you heart breaks for her and other times she irritates the heck out of you and you want to shake some sense into her. She comes across as so real to me because she isn't perfect and makes dumb mistakes out of stubborness that a lot of us would make in her shoes. Things don't always work out in the end like in a fairy tale and she has to learn to live with the consequences of her actions.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
Shobhan is such a wonderful storyteller! She creates amazingly realistic characters, wonderful rich complicated stories that touch the reader in so many ways. The Unexpected Son does not disappoint on any of these levels! The story is rich with Indian culture, the voice of a young girls heart, and a mothers sense of duty...

Oh the foolishness of youth. But oh, what a wonderful story! Imagine holding onto a secret for 30 years only to find out you were not the only one holding onto a secret. When Vinita Patil receives a letter from Mumbai, little does she realize that her world will never be the same. Vinita is such a wonderful character! She is such a strong independent woman, torn between her modern sensibilities and the traditions of her upbringing. The story follows her from a serious young 19-year-old college girl, who has little time for boys. Her studies are important to her, in order to break free from the traditional views of a woman's place in her society and in order to honor her family with good grades. But then there's this boy... He's a bad boy... and he slowly seduces Vinita with his attentions and sweet talk and then... you guessed it... "something" happens. Vinita is pregnant, unwed, dumped and an emotional wreck. The men in her family decide what to do- which is to whisk her away to Bombay, where no one will know her, keeping the family honor, and where she is told by her family that her baby was born stillborn. If the story were only one of a son showing up on a birth mother's doorstep unexpected, it would be a good story. But, in the hands a Shobhan Bantwal you can expect so much more! And it all starts with that mysterious letter...

With the skills of Shobhan Bantwal's writing, we experience the culture of India through the eyes and ears of Vinita Patil.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By garden therapist on February 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Unexpected Son takes nothing for granted. Obviously not writing primarily for Indian readers, the author defines even the most mainstream ethnic terms, such as hookah. Leaving little to the reader's interpretation, she reveals virtually every inner thought of her characters. Although the title and the cover blurb telegraph the central dilemma of the son's leukemia and need for a family donor, the author does imply several alternate donors, creating considerable plot tension. Those who don't mind the simplistic style will learn much about secular conflicts and changing mores in modern India.
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More About the Author

Award-winning author Shobhan Bantwal calls her brand of fiction "Bollywood in a Book," romantic, colorful, action-packed tales, rich with elements of Indian culture - stories that both entertain and educate. To date, she has six novels published by Kensington Books and one anthology. Her debut book, The Dowry Bride, won The Golden Leaf Award in 2008. The Unexpected Son won the National Indie Excellence Award in 2012. Her short stories have won awards and honors in various fiction contests.

All her novels will soon become available in India and the Indian sub-continent since an Indian publisher has bought the rights recently. THE SARI SHOP WIDOW was released in India in Oct 2012 and has received great reviews. THE RELUCTANT MATCHMAKER and THE UNEXPECTED SON were released in 2013. Both have received wonderful reviews. THE FULL MOON BRIDE is expected to be released in the spring of 2014.

Visit her website at and her Facebook page at

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