Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: September 2009
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Author Site: http://www.shobhanbantwal.com/
My Rating: 3.75/5
Synopsis [from kensingtonbooks.com]:
Pungent curry…sweet fried onions…incense…colorful beads…lush fabrics. Shobhan Bantwal’s compelling new novel is set on the streets of Edison, New Jersey’s Little India, where a young businesswoman rediscovers the magic of love and family…
Since becoming a widow at age twenty-seven, Anjali Kapadia has devoted herself to transforming her parents' sari shop into a chic boutique, brimming with exquisite jewelry and clothing. Now, ten years later, it stands out like a proud maharani amid Edison’s bustling Little India. But when Anjali learns the shop is on the brink of bankruptcy, she feels her world unraveling…
To the rescue comes Anjali’s wealthy, dictatorial Uncle Jeevan and his business partner, Rishi Shah—a mysterious Londoner, complete with British accent, cool gray eyes, and skin so fair it makes it hard to believe he’s Indian. Rishi’s cool, foreign demeanor triggers distrust in Anjali and her mother. But for Anjali, he also stirs something else, a powerful attraction she hasn’t felt in a decade. And the feeling is mutual…
Love disappointed Anjali once before and she’s vowed to live without it—though Rishi is slowly melting her resolve and, as the shop regains its footing, gaining her trust. But when a secret from Rishi’s past is revealed, Anjali must turn to her family and her strong cultural upbringing to guide her in finding the truth…
Anjali is a strong woman faced with a serious dilemma. She co-owns a sari shop in a small Indian enclave in New Jersey with her beloved parents that is about to go bankrupt. After a breakdown from her husband's death ten years ago, she picked herself up and poured her devotion into the shop. Anjali refuses to see it go under after everything she has put into it. Thirty-seven and living with her parents hasn't stopped Anjali from having her own life either. It's a life she keeps a secret from her parents and readers will find that her reasons are very understandable.
When her rich and intimidating uncle comes all the way from India to help her and her family, Anjali must find a way to cope with the thought that outsiders may be coming in to take over what is rightfully hers. Her anger and frustration are crystal clear and comes right out of the pages and grabs the reader's attention. Anjali is a totally real character with strong family values, a woman you can definitely find out in the real world.
The turn around of the Silk & Sapphires is only the background of Anjali's development as a character. However, that part of the story fascinated me the most. It was beautifully detailed and I wanted nothing more than to jump into the book to watch as the new sari boutique was born. Shobhan says in her interview that if she were filthy rich, Anjali's boutique would be her dream boutique she'd want to work on. It was fun to read about and a perfect backdrop to the story.
The romance between Anjali and her uncle's business partner is a reluctant one at first. I was totally captivated by their relationship as it grew though. Rishi is patient and kind but has secrets of his own. To further the idea of the modern independent woman, Anjali wants nothing to do with outside help. It's when her carefully erected wall starts to crumble that the reader catches their first glimpse of just how vulnerable she really is.
THE SARI SHOP WIDOW was such a delightful and easy read. I enjoyed every moment of it. From the rich culture to characters that were easy to relate to, I think this book will find a place in every one's heart! There are so many genres woven into the novel that I found myself easily breezing through the pages of Anjali's story. Shobhan created such a wonderful atmosphere with exciting and down-to-earth characters. I'm eager to read some of her other books.