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Thursday, December 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 41.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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A Book A Week: Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki

Roopa Farooki's Bitter Sweets is a multigenerational story about an Indian family in both India and in Britain. It's one of those sprawling family sagas that are often labeled "women's fiction" but with a South Asian flavor.

I really enjoyed it. Farooki's writing isn't the most polished, but she makes up for it in humor and realism.

Bitter Sweets follows a mother, Henna, her daughter Shona, and their husbands, siblings, friends, lovers and children. Henna's story begins with a lie perpetrated by her father, who arranges Henna's marriage to the son of a wealthy Calcutta family by passing her off as an educated, English-speaking 19-year-old when really she is an illiterate 15-year-old with nothing but good looks and moxie to recommend her. Lies lead to more lies, and it all gets a little soap opera-ish, but in a good way.

Shona, living in London many years later with her Pakistani husband and twin sons, finally manages to end the cycle of lies, but the gods have other plans, and a surprise ending stirs everything up again. This book would make a fun movie. It's got love, betrayal, affairs, secret identities, humor, good food and beautiful women in saris.

I see from that Roopa Farooki has published several books in the U.K. that have not been released in the U.S.; the U.S. Amazon site has a few of them. I am looking forward to reading more of Farooki's books; they take some of my favorite elements of domestic fiction (relationships, food) and move them to a more exotic setting.

Becky Holmes blogs about books at A Book A Week.

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