A Good Indian Wife: A Novel

A Good Indian Wife: A Novel

4.2 55
by Anne Cherian

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A clash of hearts and cultures set against the divergent backdrops of rural India and downtown San Francisco.  See more details below


A clash of hearts and cultures set against the divergent backdrops of rural India and downtown San Francisco.

Editorial Reviews

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Cherian's novel starts with a great setup. Neel, a young Indian doctor who is practicing in San Francisco and dating an American girl, returns to India for a last visit with his ailing grandfather. While there, he is pushed - duped, some might claim -- into meeting, then quickly marrying a local woman chosen by his family. As the confused groom heads back to the States with his unwanted wife in tow, he hatches a plan to buy himself enough time to dump her and reclaim the life he's been seeking.

But this wonderful book has so much more in store for readers than a great plot. Like Jane Austen and Edith Wharton, Cherian sets a keen eye on a particular slice of society, and reveals the hypocrisy, pettiness, and occasional bouts of conscience that shape the actions of a privileged class. That class includes Neel, who lusts for blonde Americans; Leila, his Indian bride, whose lack of a hefty dowry and past indiscretions have impeded her chances for a suitable match until now; and Caroline, Neel's American girlfriend, a secretary enamored with the idea of being a doctor's wife. Along the way, readers meet a sortie of supporting characters that shed light on the impressions of and misapprehensions between East and West.

With authority and wit, Cherian, an Indian native now living in Los Angeles, has penned a refreshing and unique debut. (Fall 2008 Selection)
Kirkus Reviews
A fully assimilated Indian-American doctor reluctantly adjusts to an arranged marriage in this likable but generic debut from Indian-born Cherian. Thirty-five-year-old anesthesiologist Neel Sarath thinks he has it all-a coveted, well-paying job at a San Francisco hospital and a beautiful blonde girlfriend whom he loves, despite the fact that she didn't graduate from college. But then Neel is summoned back to his rural Indian hometown to tend to his dying grandfather. The trip turns out to be a trick-Neel's aunt and mother are concerned that he's still single, and he is pawned off on Leila, an unmarried local English teacher. Neel marries her on a whim for fear of disappointing his beloved grandfather. The deal should be good-Leila turns out to be beautiful, intelligent and remarkably independent. But even after he moves her back to San Francisco with him, Neel is convinced that nothing about his old life will change, not even his situation with his girlfriend, Caroline. Leila plays along for a while, relatively unsuspecting even when Neel does not consummate their marriage and leaves her alone most nights and weekends. She finds her own support group, including the white wife of Neel's Bengali best friend, and thinks about studying creative writing at Berkeley. Eventually, as Caroline becomes increasingly clingy and Neel comes to understand that her family would never accept him, he starts to take a closer look at the wife he already has. Things come to a head after Neel's grandfather dies: Caroline had been convinced that after the death Neel would divorce his wife and marry her; Leila, meanwhile, discovers that she is pregnant. The South Asian immigrant fiction market is becomingincreasingly crowded, and the awkward domestic San Francisco scenes are particularly cliche, but the prose is pleasant and the characters (save for Leila, who seemingly can do no wrong) are believably flawed and honest. There's nothing memorable about this watered-down Jhumpa Lahiri-style novel, but nothing offensive either-fans of the genre should welcome an acceptable addition. Agent: Bonnie Nadell/Frederick Hill Bonnie Nadell Agency
Atlanta Dunia
“A lovely testament to the reality that happiness . . . can be found in the least expected of places.”
Story Circle Book Reviews
“Engaging and thought provoking; a combination of India and America, tradition and modernity, oneness and individuality. I couldn’t put this book down.”

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Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Anne Cherian is the author of A Good Indian Wife. Born and raised in Jamshedpur, India, she now lives in Los Angeles, California.

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