Recently I received a copy of The Full Moon Bride by Shobhan Bantwal to review. The novel explores arranged marriage and the difficulties living in two cultures often poses for Indian-Americans. The story follows a young Indian-American attorney, Soorya Giri, as she decides whether following her cultural tradition or her own path will provide fulfilment and happiness. Her decision will dictate who she marries: Rajeesh, an alluring fellow countryman who has been selected by her parents or Lou, an attractive colleague she fancies.
As Soorya struggles with her decision, she finds herself at odds with her parents and the men in her life. But the conflict is low key. Respect for her elders is ingrained and Soorya’s challenge to her parents’ values is restrained rather than a raging charge. The main conflict in the narrative comes from the protagonist’s own warring thoughts and feelings as she tries to reconcile her culture, her desires and her autonomy.
The novel is an old fashioned tale in a contemporary setting. It’s a slice of life rather than a larger than life story but, even without nail biting drama, this gentle story held my interest to the end of the book. As I read I found myself wondering what choices Soorya would make and how she could reconcile her family’s Indian tradition and her upbringing in America.
Using simple details of domestic life, Ms Bantwal captures the nuances of family interaction. She also develops the protagonist into a believable character. By weaving Soorya’s thoughts, emotions and memories about seemingly inconsequential details into the narrative, she gives the reader an insight into the character’s background and her familial bonds, building a complete picture of Soorya and her world.
Throughout the book Ms Bantwal provides detailed explanations about Indian traditions. I sometimes found the information distracted me from the story and I would have liked it to be more subtle. But I think these details are necessary for readers such as me, who are unfamiliar with Indian culture, to understand the story fully and I’m not sure that they could be provided it in a different manner.
The book champions the belief that the individual has a responsibility to family and community, not only to himself. It’s a viewpoint that is contrary to the Western notion that the individual’s rights should be paramount. I found it refreshing to explore a different value system in a mainstream American novel.
Words like ‘heart-warming’, ‘uplifting’ and ‘cheering’ may be old fashioned but they fit this novel. I enjoyed stepping into the world which The Full Moon Bride opened up and the novel left me with a warm glow. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy relationship centred stories.
About the author: Award-winning author Shobhan Bantwal calls her writing “Bollywood in a Book”—romantic, colorful, action-packed tales, rich with elements of Indian culture—stories that entertain and educate. Shobhan has five published novels by Kensington Publishing, with a sixth slated for 2012. Shobhan can be contacted through her website: www.shobhanbantwal.com or Facebook.
For much more information about Shobhan Bantwal and Full Moon Bride, visit her website http://www.shobhanbantwal.com . To order a copy of Full Moon Bride go to http://www.amazon.com/Full-Moon-Bride-Shobhan-Bantwal/dp/0758258844