Book Review – A Good Indian Wife

When I first read the title of the book, I thought “A good Indian wife” was used in a satirical tone. And this thought was further strengthened when the protagonist Leila continually “pushed the envelope” by trying to express herself,and sometimes not do what is expected of her.

I liked the way the author describes Leila’s first few days in the country as “cold”. I found it to be both literal and metaphorical, as I also experienced it when I first moved to this country. Add to the fact that she had a new marriage and an arranged one at that.

Neel’s (the husband) character was very believable because of a few reasons namely, a) Inferiority complex of brown skin b) Believing that everything American was better and c) at the capability of Leila to adapt to his American life very quickly and on her own. He associated an “arranged marriage” girl to being timid and one unable to be at the helm of her own life. That in a way, is also the start of a relationship between them and if I may add, a new found respect for Leila’s confidence in herself, her brown skin and her “Indian-ness”. At one point Leila disagrees with something that Neel says and he finds that even though he is impressed by her ability to hold on to her own, he is also surprised at his own chauvinistic self.

While I could not identify with Leila at some places when she continues to be quiet about Neel’s affair, I could also totally believe her actions as she was torn between her desire to act her way or the way that was expected of her by the society. Most of the women born in the 80s and 90s can identify with her dilemmas as we are the generation caught between having seen patriarchy up close but also seen feminism being talked about in our drawing rooms.

I really liked the book for it’s easy read, and yet a good substance.My rating: 4/5


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