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Apr 02

Review: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

I received this book for free from ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad ZamaThe Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama
Series: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People #1
Published by Abacus on 2008
Genres: contemporary, fiction, humour, romance & chicklit
Pages: 276
Source: ARC received from publisher
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What does somebody with a wealth of common sense do if retirement palls?Why, open a marriage bureau, of course. And soon Mr Ali, from beautiful Vizag in South India, sees his new business flourish as the indomitable Mrs Ali and able assistant Aruna look on with careful eyes.But although many clients go away happy, problems lurk behind the scenes as Aruna nurses a heart-rending secret; while Mr Ali cannot see that he rarely follows the sage advice he so freely dishes out to others. And when love comes calling for Aruna, an impossible dilemma looms...A colourful coastal town and contemporary marriage bureau prove a perfect backdrop for a splendid array of characters making sense of all sorts of pride and prejudice - and the ways in which true love won't quite let go - in this witty and big-hearted debut novel.

I really enjoyed this novel and read it quite quickly. I tend to get bored with chick-lit generally – all those predictable storylines and cardboard cut-out characters – but this book had that little bit extra that made it a fun and interesting.

As Mr Ali interviews potential clients for his marriage bureau/matchmaking service, there is a fascinating amount of detail given about the caste and sub-caste requirements, social hierarchy and family obligations and expectations that are major factors in choosing a partner for the characters in the story. The descriptions of both Hindu and Muslim wedding ceremonies are also very interesting.

On reflection, there is a surprisingly large amount of detail about Indian culture worked into the story and it is an indication of the skill of the author that the novel never feels like a lecture in Indian customs and traditions.

The descriptions of the saris and other clothing have me looking at my cargo pants and T-shirt in despair and the Indian dishes prepared by Mrs Ali have my mouth watering. Too many more books like this and The Hindi Bindi Club and I will overcome my inertia and actually start cooking some of the dishes from the Traditional Indian Cookbook that I have sitting on my kitchen bench (obtained after I finished reading the HBC).

The lack of bad language, sex scenes or any other possible elements that might offend means that this book can be as easily recommended to your grandmother as it can to a girlfriend or teenager.

This is Farahad Zama’s debut novel and I will definitely be looking out for any books he writes in the future.

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