Shobhan Bantwal has published 5 novels and 2 anthologies before this one. Her books cover a wide variety of women centric issues from dowry to pre-marital sex to even abortions based on gender. ‘The Full Moon Bride’ explores the concept of arranged marriage from the point of view of an Indian American woman. Does it work? Let’s check it out.
The blurb goes like this –
What makes a marriage? Love or compatibility? Passion or pragmatism? Shobhan Bantwal’s compelling new novel explores the fascinating subject of arranged marriage, as a young Indian-American woman navigates the gulf between desire and tradition.
To Siya Giri, arranged marriages have always seemed absurd. But while her career as an environmental lawyer has flourished, she remains a virgin, living with her parents in suburban New Jersey. She wants to be married. And she is finally ready to do the unthinkable!
Siya’s first bridal viewings are as awkward as she anticipated. But then she’s introduced to Roger Vadepalli, and things seem to change. Or do they? Self-possessed, intelligent, and charming. Roger is clearly interested in marriage and seems eager to clinch the deal. Attracted to him in spite of her mistrust, Siya is also drawn into a flirtation with Lou, a widowed colleague who is far from her family’s idea of an acceptable husband.
In choosing between two very different men, Soorya must reconcile her burgeoning independence and her conservative background. And she must decide what matters most to her not just in a husband, but in a family, a culture, and a life.
The cover page and the entire styling is done pretty well. The cover image of a girl lost in thoughts on a full moon night gives an overview on what to expect as we go forward. The publisher has ensured that the font of the content as well as the quality of the paper used is perfect.
Shobhan has a good concept at hand. An Indian – American woman who desires to have a love marriage based on her own decisions agrees to go for the arrange marriage concept because that’s how everyone in her family has been brought up. Though she’s been born and brought up in America, her Indian-ness starts to come to the fore as her marriage comes closer.
Shobhan has portrayed the emotions, trials and tribulations going through Siya’s mind pretty well. From the confusion in recognizing her true identity to an inferiority complex on her looks to even the concept of arranged marriages, Shobhan has beautifully expressed Siya’s inner turmoil.
The narrative is structured pretty well and the story moves at a decent pace throughout as Siya find herself lost between two men. On one end is the arrogant and charming Roger while on the other is Lou who is a colleague but from a different religion and culture. Who will she choose? What will her family say? The rest of the book deals with all this and more.
The negatives? Lou’s character seems slightly forced and moreover it’s not given too much importance either. You keep waiting for something to happen between Siya and Lou but are left disappointed. Some of the language, particularly with respect to the dialogues could have been done better to make a stronger impact. Shobhan could have avoided the use of cliche’s in certain places.
Siya’s character is the star of the book. A 30 year old lawyer who rediscovers her Telugu roots as the years go by, Siya goes through various situations and emotions in her life. Whether its about her looks, her weight or about marriage, she comes across as a woman who a lot many can associate themselves with. Roger is interesting as the arrogant and egoistic yet charming man who wants to close the deal. Lou’s character wasn’t really developed as well as it should have.
If you are the one for light reads into the lives of Indian – Americans, this one is for you.
Rating – 3/5