Tuesday, August 18, 2009

REVIEW: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, by Farahad Zama

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, by Farahad Zama. Published 2009 by Amy Einhorn Books/Penguin. Fiction.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People is a delightful, charming little beach book about the Alis, a family of Indian Muslims whose paterfamilias, Mr. Ali, starts an arranged-marriage business to occupy himself in his retirement- and keep himself out of his wife's hair. Business picks up right away, and he hires a young Hindu girl named Aruna to be his assistant, a smart and self-effacing girl with marriage dreams of her own.

From there the story is off and running as a motley cast of hopefuls comes through his door, including a valve salesman who needs to learn to be his own best advocate, a divorced florist who wants a man on her own terms, and a doctor whose family isn't going to be satisfied with just anybody for their handsome prince. Mr. Ali does his best to find mates for his customers, but sometimes love happens when you least expect it.

First-time novelist Farahad Zamar writes with affection and humor about his native India and its peoples, faiths and cultures- and about its social conditions and politics. Mr. Ali's son, Rehman, is an activist whose travails illustrate larger issues in Indian society; likewise, Aruna's family situation- a disabled father and no money to get married- illustrates the fragility of women's lives. Zamar populates his story with characters from all levels of society- everyone from the rich doctor Ramanujam to the poorest of the poor- without detracting from the book's overall light, hopeful tone.

I really enjoyed The Marriage Bureau for Rich People. Peppered with lots of cultural details, readers of light fiction will enjoy the armchair travel and the sweet stories about finding love and finding one's way in the world. The book is also a easy primer on Muslim and Hindu marriage practices, as well as a relatively quick read and the perfect way to get away without going away on a summer's day. Zama creates lovable, imperfect characters you'll care about and enjoy getting to know.

Rating: BEACH

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.

12 comments:

booksslicedanddiced said...

I usually don't read very beachy books but your review makes me want to give it a try!

pinkflipflops said...

Sounds like a cute book.. adding it to the EVER growing list.. :)

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I liked Aruna, I liked the elucidation of customs, but the other characters didn't do much for me.

Blodeuedd said...

Sounds like a nice read, I might just have to give a it a try

bermudaonion said...

Nice review - this really sounds like a book I would enjoy.

jewwishes said...

What a delightful review!

Zibilee said...

This book sounds great! I am sure I will really like this one, and have put it on my wish list. Great review, I am glad you enjoyed it so much. Thanks!

Anna said...

This sounds like one I'd enjoy. Great review!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Bonnie said...

I skimmed your review as I have this TBR. I'm glad that you enjoyed it and that it was a quick read!

sternapple said...

Thank you for posting this! It looks like a great addition to my Reading List.

Jessica
My project: 50 Books in One Year

S. Krishna said...

I thought this book was adorable ad really enjoyed it as well. Great review!

readerbuzz said...

I agree with you about everything you wrote. I think it could have been fantastic instead of good.