Last year I read my first novel by Shoban Bantwal. Fullmoon Bride was an old fashioned tale in a contemporary setting. The novel presented a slice of life rather than a larger than life story but, even without nail biting drama, the gentle story held my interest to the end of the book.
Using simple details of domestic life, Ms Bantwal captured the nuances of family interaction. She also developed the protagonist into a believable character.
She has created an equally enjoyable story in her latest novel, The Reluctant Matchmaker. It’s a new plot but all the elements that make her books a good read are included. I would recommend The Reluctant Matchmaker to readers who enjoy relationship-centred stories.
The publisher’s summary of The Reluctant Matchmaker: “It starts with a bizarre accident. Petite and successful Meena Shenoy’s contented life turns upside down when she collides, literally, with her strikingly tall boss, Prajay Nayak, and suffers a nasty fall. But when she discovers that he’s a bright, caring, family-oriented man, she’s attracted to him. When he unexpectedly asks her to meet him in secret, she wonders whether he feels the same way about her.
Meena walks into his office that evening with high romantic hopes. Imagine her shock when instead of declaring interest in her Prajay makes an astonishing request: He wants her to craft a personal ad that will help him find a suitable wife – a statuesque, sophisticated Indian-American woman who will complement his striking height.
Despite her feelings for Prajay and the complications of balancing work and her “marriage consultant” role, Meena can’t refuse the assignment, or the generous fee attached to it. While she nurses her bruised heart, Meena comes to some surprising realizations about love, tradition, and the sacrifices she will—and won’t—make to fight for the man she loves.”
I’ve asked Shoban to join me today to talk about The Reluctant Matchmaker. Welcome Shoban.
SB: Dianne, first of all, thank you for reviewing my book, and for a great interview. I appreciate your interest in my latest novel, The Reluctant Matchmaker.
Tell us about your novel
SB: It starts with a bizarre accident. When young and petite Meena literally collides with her strikingly tall boss, Prajay, she takes a nasty fall, but doesn’t count on falling in love with him. So imagine her dismay when he makes an astonishing request: He wants her to craft a personal ad that will help him find a suitable wife — a statuesque, sophisticated Indian-American woman who will complement his remarkable height. Despite Meena’s attraction to Prajay, she can’t refuse his assignment, or the generous fee. While balancing the complications of work and her “marriage consultant” role, she comes to some surprising realizations about love, tradition, and the sacrifices she will—and won’t—make to win over her giant.
What prompted you to write this story?
SB: Being a very petite woman and happily married to a small-statured man for over three decades, I have always wondered what kind of a relationship a tiny woman would have with a giant of a man. All my stories have their roots in the concept of “what if?” The Reluctant Matchmaker started with “what if” a diminutive woman fell in love with a big man. To raise the stakes even higher and add some conflict to an already unconventional match, I needed my tall hero to want a suitably statuesque woman to complement his remarkable height, even though he is somewhat attracted to the tiny heroine. The Reluctant Matchmaker became the story of just such a conflict.
The Reluctant Matchmaker explores Indian culture in America which some readers may not be familiar with. Is your intended reader Indian American or from any ethnic background? How do you acquaint non-Indian American readers with the culture the book is set in?
SB: While all my books are meant for readers of all ethnicities, they are primarily oriented toward a non-Indian audience, and mostly women. Indian-Americans are already familiar with the immigrant experience since they are living it, so they are not all that curious to read about it in fiction. However, I find that second and third generation Indian-American women are avid readers of my books. They can genuinely appreciate and relate to the challenges and experiences my young characters confront while straddling two diverse cultures.
As for acquainting my non-Indian readers with Indian culture, I do it by offering them a different kind of fiction that is more entertainment than intellectual stimulation, what I call Bollywood in a Book. Most South Asian authors write serious literary novels, which are beautifully written, but are often short on plot. Not all readers are fond of slice-of-life literary books, so I decided to give them commercial fiction that introduces them to Indian culture in the form of fun, romantic stories, filled with drama, colorful characters, emotional plots, and intriguing cultural elements.
The main female and male characters in the novel are well drawn. Do you prefer to write one sex or the other. And, if so, why?
SB: My books are marketed as women’s fiction with romantic elements, therefore I write mostly in the female point of view. I find it a little easier to write in the female voice than the male, perhaps because I grew up in a family with all sisters and no brothers. Also, women’s stories are more emotional as compared to men’s, and I like to pour feelings and internal musings in my tales.
While some of my books do have alternating chapters with both male and female viewpoints, The Reluctant Matchmaker is entirely the heroine’s story, hence it is narrated in the first person.
Thanks for visiting Ascroft, eh? and answering my questions, Shoban. Good luck with your new book.
About Shoban Bantwal: She is an award-winning author of six multicultural women’s fiction books with romantic elements and numerous short stories, branded as “Bollywood in a Book.” Her articles have appeared in The Writer magazine, Romantic Times, India Abroad, India Currents, and New Woman. The Reluctant Matchmaker is her latest novel. Shobhan lives with her husband in Arizona.
For more information: about The Reluctant Matchmaker and Shobhan Bantwal’s other books, visit her website or the book’s Amazon page to order a copy. The full virtual tour schedule is available at: http://bookpromotionservices.com/2012/06/03/reluctant-matchmaker-tour