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)