The author of the Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows follows her acclaimed America debut with this life-affirming, witty family drama—an Indian This Is Where I Leave You—about three Punjabi sisters embarking on a pilgrimage to their homeland to lay their mother to rest.
The British-born Punjabi Shergill sisters—Rajni, Jezmeen, and Shirnia—were never close and barely got along growing up, and now as adults, have grown even further apart. Rajni, a school principal is a stickler for order. Jezmeen, a thirty-year-old struggling actress, fears her big break may never come. Shirina, the peacemaking "good" sister married into wealth and enjoys a picture-perfect life.
On her deathbed, their mother voices one last wish: that her daughters will make a pilgrimage together to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to carry out her final rites. After a trip to India with her mother long ago, Rajni vowed never to return. But she’s always been a dutiful daughter, and cannot, even now, refuse her mother’s request. Jezmeen has just been publicly fired from her television job, so the trip to India is a welcome break to help her pick up the pieces of her broken career. Shirina’s in-laws are pushing her to make a pivotal decision about her married life; time away will help her decide whether to meekly obey, or to bravely stand up for herself for the first time.
Arriving in India, these sisters will make unexpected discoveries about themselves, their mother, and their lives—and learn the real story behind the trip Rajni took with their Mother long ago—a momentous journey that resulted in Mum never being able to return to India again.
The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters is a female take on the Indian travel narrative. "I was curious about how different the trip would be if it were undertaken by women, who are vulnerable to different dangers in a male-dominated society," Balli Kaur Jaswal writes. "I also wanted to explore the tensions between tradition and modernity in immigrant communities, and particularly how those tensions play out among women like these sisters, who are the first generation to be raised outside of India."
Powerful, emotionally evocative, and wonderfully atmospheric, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters is a charming and thoughtful story that illuminates the bonds of family, sisterhood, and heritage that tether us despite our differences. Funny and heartbreaking, it is a reminder of the truly important things we must treasure in our lives.
|Edition description:||Large Print|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Balli Kaur Jaswal was born in Singapore and grew up in Japan, Russia, and the Philippines. She studied creative writing at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, and was the National Writer-in-Residence at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, where she taught creative writing while working on Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. She lives in Singapore.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I received an ARE of this from a Goodreads Giveaway - thanks! Would I recommend this: yes!!! For fans of travel, learning new cultures, exploring family dynamics, and wonderfully written and developed characters. Left me fist pumping and cheering along with them! OHMYGOD, I loved this! I was so excited to read it, and it was one of those books where within 20 pages you know you were right and you WILL love this book. I love learning about places and cultures through reading, even novels, and this was a new one for me: Sikhism and India. I enjoyed learning about the little bits they mentioned in the book, but as a story it was so strong as well! The characters are the absolute best. It can be hard to develop strong characters when you have several all taking turns narrating, but they each provided insight into themselves as well as each other when they took their turn in the story. Even the mother, who is dead basically the whole time, feels like a familiar friend by the middle of it. One whose quirks and flaws and passions I know and love. One great aspect of this novel is the lack of a romance line. It's very firmly based on the sisters and them learning about themselves as individuals as well as a group. The secrets that each sister has throughout their pilgrimage through India are hinted at and built upon, but not in that way where it feels so blunt and tactless; none of those single sentences at the end of chapter just saying "She thought she would be ok... until she remembered what he had said before she left." or some rubbish like that. My god, that gets annoying, right? These were gracefully and naturally woven in, which is key in any story for me. Is it predictable? In some ways, yes. I had a feeling they would all find their happy endings, reconcile, and all that. But the method of each resolution was hazy enough to keep an air of mystery for me, and I loved it for that. I knew the what, but not the how, and isn't the journey all the fun of it anyway?
Writing: 4/5 Plot: 3.5/5 Characters: 4/5 A family drama steeped in a colorful Punjabi travelogue. The three Shergill sisters reluctantly make a summer pilgrimage to India to fulfill their mother’s dying request. Plodding through an extensive and detailed itinerary, each is simultaneously dealing with a personal crisis she is unwilling to share with the others. Hyper-responsible Rajni is reeling from the discovery that her 18-year old son has vowed to marry a woman twice his age; Wild Jezmeen is suspended from her role as DisasterTube host due to an unfortunate interaction with a highly sensitive Arowana fish (the fish didn’t make it); and Shirina, who arranged her own marriage to a traditional Indian man and his controlling mother, has a particularly distressing secret mission for the trip. Good writing with some interesting and topical social commentary. I consider it chick-lit — disasters are all successfully avoided and it willingly supplies the mandatory happy ending. The family is Sikh and there was some information on Sikh heritage, practices, and monuments, though not as much as I would have liked. It did spur a quick Wikipedia check which I found useful and interesting. Many of the story threads address different issues faced by women in this region of India and traditional Sikh communities around the world. These affect the story in multiple ways, though primarily from the outside (our heroines are second generation British immigrants with little identification with their Indian heritage). Overall an interesting read.