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Bitter sweets
2007
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Summary
In 1950s Bengal, Henna Rub, a precocious, wayward teenager, brings off a brilliant marriage to a wealthy romantic, Ricky Karim, trapping him with a web of lies that she has spun with her wheeler-dealer father. And so on his wedding night, believing himself married to an educated, sonnet-reading, tennis-playing soul mate, Ricky is horrified to discover that his new bride is in fact a lazy, illiterate, shopkeeper's daughter. As Ricky and Henna resign themselves to a loveless marriage of convenience, the way is paved for a future of double-lives and complicit deception - an unspoken family tradition that is inherited by their daughter Shona. But decades later, living among the subcontinental sweetshops of South London, it is Shona who is forced to discover unpalatable truths about her loved ones and come to terms with the lies which superficially hold her family together . . . and which are really keeping them apart.
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School Library Journal Review
Adult/High School-This multicultural comedy of manners stretches from the 1950s to the present. Nadim, a Bengali shopkeeper, comes from a long line of liars. His greatest deception has led to the marriage of his lazy, uneducated 13-year-old daughter into the wealthy Karim family of Calcutta. Henna, this child bride, is a manipulative, over-the-top adulteress. Duped groom Ricky-Rashid achieves his lifelong goals of becoming a successful businessman and finding true love late in life, but there's a catch: he becomes a guilt-ridden polygamist in the process. Aziz has had a crush on Henna since the beginning and takes over brother Ricky-Rashid's role as the caretaker of family land and becomes Henna's lover. Other members of the extended family include Shona, who elopes to London with a distant Punjabi relative; Omar, who is in the closet; and Dermot, who wants Shona to himself. Numerous other characters are witting and unwitting collaborators to deceits, secrets, and even ignorance. Through the comfortably flawed, self-deceptive, clandestine behavior of its characters, this novel achieves a level of human realism that is at once hilarious, intriguing, and achingly cringe-worthy. This is one confection that is as literarily satisfying as it is delectable.-Shannon Peterson, Kitsap Regional Library, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* This sparkling, fresh debut follows three generations of a family caught up in the web of their own deceit. When scholarly Rashid weds beautiful Henna, he is surprised on their wedding night to learn she's not an accomplished 17-year-old but rather a lazy, illiterate 14-year-old who opted for marriage over education. He waits several years to consummate the union, then Henna gives birth to Shona, who quickly learns her parents' language of deception. Shona elopes with handsome Parvez and moves to London. At the same time, Rashid finds himself traveling to the same city on business, and when he meets Verity, a shy English woman in her late thirties, he sees a chance for the happiness that he's never found with Henna even if it means weaving an intricate tangle of lies. Rashid, Henna, and Shona continue to deceive each other and their families for the next two decades, until Shona faces a midlife crisis that makes her question whether deceit really is the best policy. Farooki's vibrant characters leap off the page and straight into the imagination in this clever and intricate novel.--Huntley, Kristine Copyright 2007 Booklist
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