23
Jan

Life’s Second Chances

Review of The Sari Shop Widow; Shobhan Bantwal; Fingerprint Publishing; Rs 250; pp 364

– Darsana Mohan

The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal is the story of a 37-year-old widow by the name of Anjali Kapadia. A second generation Indian, Anjali is at a point in life where she is trying to maintain the balance between what her parents expect of her and what she expects from life. In the beginning of the novel, we are introduced to Anjali and her parents in the middle of a family meeting regarding the near-bankruptcy of their store ‘Silk and Sapphires’ in New Jersey’s ‘Little India.’

The Sari shop is Anjali’s bread and butter and becomes her true calling once she moves in with her parents following the sudden death of her husband. Frantic to save the store she has wholeheartedly devoted her time and effort to, Anjali realises that desperate times call for desperate measures and caves in to her father’s pleas to call upon Anjali’s rich and shrewd uncle Jeevan Kaka to save the day and rescue them from ruin. Jeevan kaka, however, has a surprise up his sleeve and has his new business partner, middle-aged Rishi Shah accompany him on this new venture. The story essentially revolves around Anjali’s mission to salvage what is left of her shop as well as her attempts to build her relationships including a budding romance with her uncle’s partner in crime.

The novel is an easy read in spite of its 364 pages and can be quite entertaining at times but there were too many instances when the book left me agitated and on the verge of giving up. I did not care for the characters with the exception of the Uncle Jeevan kaka, whom the author has portrayed well. Bantwal knows how to pace dramatic fiction but the writing was a little too choppy and could do with a few revisions. The plot was ridden with a few clichés and the central male character Rishi Shah was characterised in a larger than life fashion. Also, there were insertions of characters that seemed to be aimed at simply canonising Anjali in comparison and opportunistic mentions of the late husband that did not seem natural but rather a gimmick to add tension.

But I’d still say the author is capable of aptly penning down the growth of a romance and the alternating point of views was a welcome facet of the book. Bantwal has also efficiently depicted Anjali’s predicament and her mindset as she journeys through uncharted territory. The book is a breezy read for lazy Sundays, provided one can forgive the mentioned gaffes.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (7 votes cast)
Life’s Second Chances , 9.0 out of 10 based on 7 ratings

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 at 9:31 pm and is filed under Fiction, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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