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A Good Indian Wife: A Novel
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on July 9, 2017
I was able to relate to Neel (Suneel) because I struggle with managing two cultures, and though I don't try to shake off my heritage, I understand his frustrations. Some of the characters in his family seemed uncomfortably realistic to me, and the author did a great job of letting me know that they have good intentions. I was disappointed because the indian wife's journey was either bland or nonexistent. Neel himself seemed to all of a sudden snap out of it, and perhaps I had missed his growth and realization. I ordered this for a low price, and paid more for shipping and handling. If you come across it, read it. I am taking it to Goodwill and perhaps you will be able to buy it there. However, I don't recommend going out of your way to purchase this.
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on November 13, 2012
This book was a great introduction into the Indian culture and provides an indepth look into the values of family loyalty, respect and the traditions of arranged marriages, which still happen in today's society. The central characters; Suneel and Leila are brought together rather forcibly through their family's hands. It is surreal for us in America to have two people who did not want to marry/get married to each other do so, but through the cultural expose that Cherian offers us, we come to understand it.

The reader fluctuates from feeling badly for both characters, to wanting to defend one against the other. Leila's character blossoms upon meeting Suneel and we get to see her transform from one who had self esteem issues into a more confident and acclimated woman once she settles in America and in her new life with Suneel. Suneel, once resigned of his new life, realizes all the things he thought he didn't like in India were still with him; his love of family, loyalty to his family and most importantly he comes to recognize his love of the country from which he was born.

This was a first time read for me by Cherian and I will check out her other works. This was an easy and quick read, so give it a try if you want to be entertained as well as learning a bit about a new culture.
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on August 10, 2012
I bought "A good Indian wife" and read it in two nights. It was hard to put down. My heart went out to Leila who was extremely brave and more tolerant with the Simpleton Neel than I ever would have been. He was what my parents referred to as an 'educated ass.' I kept wondering when she was going to open up her eyes and realise that she was no longer in India, but in the dog eat dog world of the USA. I just loved the way she toppled Caroline's cart when she called to proclaim her love for Suneel or Neel as he liked to be called. This story rings so true. Indian men are not the only men who consider having having a white trophy as reaching the epitome of one's life. It is an everyday occurence among men of all races. Neel's infidelity was absolutely hard to read about and I kept hoping that Leila would find a handsome man, for the payback would have been sweet; but she was too good a person to enter into such a clastendine affair and won in the end. Was it worth it? I can't say until Miss Cherian brings the sequel to the market.
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on September 2, 2013
A Good Indian Wife starts out in San Francisco with Suneel or Neel as he goes by in his American life. Neel is a Sanford graduate and an anesthesiologist in a local hospital. Neel wants his future wife to be very American with blonde hair and on the same level of intellect as himself. Neel has been summoned back to India to visit his dying grandfather. When he gets there he is talked into seeing some girls while he's there. His Grandfather talks him into seeing at least one. Leila who is thirty and considered a spinster by her village is the one girl that Neel meets with while in India. After a series of misunderstandings between Neel and his family he ends up agreeing to marry Leila afraid if he backs out it will make his grandfather worse. The story continues as Leila tries to find her place in San Francisco and Neel tries to figure out how to divorce her as he continues on with his girlfriend of three years, Caroline.

A Good Indian Wife captured my attention from the get go. I kept turning pages to see where it was going next and how it would turn out. I am disappointed by the way it ended. I also find the characters a little cliché in a lot of spots, the gold digging girlfriend, the prejudice brother, the lying husband, the forgiving wife.

The contrast between the American way of life and India way of life was a strong theme in the book. There were lots of descriptions of the way of life in the village in India where Neel and Leila are from. When India things, food, customs and living conditions are described from Neel's point of view they are done so in a negative way, whereas from Leila's point of view they are much more accepted. She isn't trying to fight against her heritage like Neel is. The author also shows you San Francisco through Leila's eyes as she tries to build a life for herself in a completely different country without completely losing her India customs.
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on February 18, 2016
Absolutely loved "A Good Indian Wife". I could not put it down and read it in 2 days! I could not wait to find out what Leila was going to do once she found out what Neel's real plan was. I wish I could be more like Leila because she handled every situation so gracefully even though she was faced with such harsh realities. This is the first time I've read anything written by Anne Cherian but I will definitely be on the look out for more books written by her.
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on November 19, 2013
Exceptional writing. Not your usual story. More layered which works well and effectively fogs a clear view at the book's outcome. I believe the moral of this story is our family knows us best. Another reader might say if you leave one culture and adapt to life in another culture, don't go home again. The characters were fairly complex and very interesting. I will add, skin shade played an important element in this story. If you find that thought distressing, don't read this book.
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on September 10, 2017
This book is boring and V-E-R-Y slow moving. I am trying to get through it to see how it ends, but I'm not sure I'll be able to. It would be a much better read if at least 1/3 to 1/2 of it was edited out.
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on July 12, 2017
This novel was big surprise. I was not familiar with this author. So glad I am now. Her writing is excellent. The plot well executed. She keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the story. Truly storytelling at its best. Bravo!
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on May 16, 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Those who may have problems with it are judging the book based on "western" values. This is Indian culture and whilst some will not agree with arranged marriages, many Indians still value it. I thought it was very heartfelt, funny and endearing and think Anne Cherian is a gifted writer. I look forward to reading her other novel.
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on June 1, 2012
Anne Cherian has tried to portray a sensitive story of an unlikely couple with highly polarized personalities - on the one hand, the Indian born American educated Neel wants to be entirely American without fully understanding the cultural context he is thrown into and therefore is obsessed about marrying an American woman; and on the other hand a traditional southern Indian girl who has only trained to be a wife and knows of no other identify to aspire to. The story unravels a rather unlikely plot that brings them together, and even if one is forced to swallow it, one hopes for better things to follow.

The author clings to the extreme cliches about the two cultures she depicts - American and Indian. Although her ability to write from both perspectives is impressive, her lack of ability to go beyond the superficial routine cliches is not. MUST Neel be the extreme wanting to be all-American villager-Indian, MUST Liela (his imported wife) be the typical on-the-shelf-desperately-waiting-be-married woman, and MUST the American secretary (Caroline) that Neel is having an affair with be the gold-digger-wanting-to-marry-a-rich-doctor Midwestern from a red-neck family? There are too many, way too many, shades of cultures in both India and America, to look at this story as anything but simple minded. I kept reading this book because the author can write a reasonably flowing (albeit simplistic) prose, but mostly because I was hoping for a less typical ending.

I kept waiting for the story to take a turn where the all-but-deserted Liela takes charge of her life and flowers into an independent individual, leaving her so-called husband behind. But of course that does not happen, and the story unconvincingly leads to a deterministic ending living up to the cliches that this book is full of. I found it difficult to find any character in this book likeable or genuine except Neel's friend Sanjay and his wife Oona, who aren't driven entirely by tormented goals thrust upon them. Liela herself would be more likeable if she was depicted as a less typical woman dying to obtain a "married" title, dependent, and just waiting for her husband to come around. The story builds towards glimpses of that pluck in her character but never fully develops it as if it is entirely unimportant, as if the main objective is in fact that the husband comes around to his senses.

Looking forward to more liberal and open-minded books by immigrant authors revealing an exposure a bit more diverse than this.
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