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A Good Indian Wife: A Novel

A Good Indian Wife: A Novel

4.2 55
by Anne Cherian

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“An absorbing tale of contrasts. . . . Cherian tells the story with quiet strength.” —San Francisco Chronicle
Handsome anesthesiologist Neel is sure he can resist his family’s pleas that he marry a “good” Indian girl. With a girlfriend and a career back in San Francisco, the last thing Neel needs is an arranged marriage. But


“An absorbing tale of contrasts. . . . Cherian tells the story with quiet strength.” —San Francisco Chronicle
Handsome anesthesiologist Neel is sure he can resist his family’s pleas that he marry a “good” Indian girl. With a girlfriend and a career back in San Francisco, the last thing Neel needs is an arranged marriage. But that’s precisely what he gets. His bride, Leila, a thirty-year-old teacher, comes with her own complications. They struggle to reconcile their own desires with others’ expectations in this story of two people, two countries, and two ways of life that may be more compatible than they seem.

Editorial Reviews

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.”
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
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

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.96(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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A Good Indian Wife: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
FloridaGirlJB More than 1 year ago
I found the story well paced and so absorbing I read it straight through over a weekend. The characters were believable most of the time (the doctor's mistress was a bit over the top). I was able to keep up with the protagonists's way of thinking. What I enjoyed as much as the plot was the look inside a culture that I would otherwise have no way of experiencing and knowing. It removed some of my biases, but may have inadvertently reinforced others. The author did an excellent job with this book. It was a pleasant surprise to discover it just by browsing in the bookstore.
marie_ambrosia More than 1 year ago
This book was a very intriguing read. It took 10-20 pages to get into the story, but once I did, I did not want to put the book down. I could have finished the night before, but I held off wanting to save the ending for when I could enjoy it. And I didn't want the story to end. Also good for people who like reading about different cultures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Entertaining. I have Indian friends who have had arranged marriages. It was an interesting insight into Indian culture. Good character developement.
mp1mp1 More than 1 year ago
This book was on my wish list for months and past it over a few times....why, why, why??? This is a beautiful story, well written and I could not let go of it. It is romantic and lovely. This is the kind of story that everyone should read.
Page54 More than 1 year ago
This was a fascinating book, well written and easy to read. I hope to see a sequel with Leila and Neel, but anything by this author will do.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Leila is the woman every woman would want to be. Passionate loving and true to herself - not without the realistic emotions. Loved this book and I hope that the author will bring Leila to life agan in a sequel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a great read. I love to see a girl realize that she can take care of herself
RebeccaScaglione More than 1 year ago
A Good Indian Wife by Anne Cherian is a fictional book about an "accidental" arranged marriage. Suneel (Neel, as he's known in America) is an American doctor, who has shunned his Indian roots since coming to the states for school.  He's been having a mainly sexual relationship with a blonde, all-American secretary at the hospital where he works. When his grandfather's sickness propels him to India to visit, Neel is kind of tricked into accepting a wife. He tries to get out of it, in many ways, but seems to be stuck and has to bring his new wife back with him to America. Neel's a jerk, cheating on Leila (the new wife) and treating her badly. Will he change his ways and appreciate his Indian wife?  Or is the relationship going to crash and burn? This isn't a love story.  Even though there's an arranged marriage, it's more about relationships, friendships, adapting to new situations, and being true to yourself. A Good Indian Wife was a quick read for me, because of the interesting storyline and because of the culture exploration.  I'm a sucker for books set in other cultures!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was wonderful. So well written that it grabbed me from the first page and I couldn't put it down. It gives outsiders an inside look at Indian families and an arranged marriage and cultueal differences. So good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The sample leads you into thinking it will get better, but it really doesnt. The pace and descriptions are the same throughout the book. You wont get too much and will definately be disappointed with the ending. Dont waste your money. If you really want to read, i will lend/share it. First, it was a story that kept you wanting to read more. Although, there were times i skipped parts that didnt seem too interesting, especially the times when the charcters would go back to their past. Second, some characters and events that took place got lost. It leaves a lot of questions. What happened to her friend, rekha? Her job, her stories, her sisters marriage? Their marriage still needed some more romance and such. It seemed to formal and just hit the surface. Last, i felt the end was abrupt and unfinshed. It seemed the author might have gotten tired and bored of the story and didnt want to go on further. I thought since it was given four stars that it would be a great read. I have read so much better, the sultans harem, the twentieth wife, the red tent, which have so much more deep insights and descriptions. If you want to get a glimpse of some of the culture and traditions of India and the struggles some foriegners face when living in another country, then this book might give you just that. However, i felt this book left more to desire. It lacked in a few places.Its not worth the one nighter, and it could easily have been a short story than a novel.
RIshma More than 1 year ago
Great book loved it!!
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Erin Farley More than 1 year ago
this book was awesome!
Laineys_Daughter More than 1 year ago
Don't know if I have words to describe this book more than to say I loved it and will surely read it again and again and highly recommend it to others happily. The author is truly talented in introducing us to and almost making Leila and Suneel a part of our very own family. How intriguing to read about the difference in cultures and personalities only to discover that it really is only just a difference in location because the characters we all know and love are alive and thriving in this book. In some little ways we have all been Leila, Suneel, poor ridiculous/dangerous Caroline and bits of so many other characters in the book. It's really a book about women, love and finding onces place in the world isn't a location but the place in our own hearts. Must read. Absolutly loved this book.
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