09 July 2009

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People
Farahad Zama
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (June 11, 2009)
4/5 stars

With The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, Mr. Zama brings the reader into the colorful world of present-day India, where some marriages are still arranged and caste and/or religion can still be a factor in deciding a good match.

Our protagonist, Mr. Ali is retired and his retirement has begun to weigh on both him and his wife. To fill out his free time, he opens a marriage bureau. This will function as a time saver and be more discreet for those who would like to advertise for a match for themselves or their children. Mr. Ali will do the advertising, screen the replies, and start a sort of "club" with a large base of eligible matches. It seems like a good idea, and it is. After a few months, his Marriage Bureau for Rich People is boomimg and his free time is free no more--from one extreme to another!

With Mrs. Ali's help, he hires a very pleasant, respectable young woman, Aruna, to help him as secretary and her story is added to the threads of the plot. Along with Aruna's very interesting story is that Mr. and Mrs. Ali with their son and several side stories of clients that lightly touch the main stories.

To begin with, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People is a bit slow, and feels as if the author is trying too hard. It is easy to see, in the first pages, that this is his first novel. But as it progresses, it becomes a charming, lovely little story with the feel of a Jane Austen novel. It is refreshing and a delight to the senses; it is also a pleasure to learn so much, in a positive manner, about caste and religion in present-day India. Reading about the marriage ceremonies was a pure delight.

I will be honest, I do not like romance novels, but the romance that was gradually slid into this novel was similar to that of my favorite author, Jane Austen, so I was pleased with it, and not annoyed.

Over all, despite it's slow start, I found this a delicious little book and give it a high recommendation. I had to give it only four stars, instead of the five stars that it emotionally elicited, due to the slow start and sometimes not perfect writing. I do hope to see more from Mr. Zama, as he has a wonderful way of bringing the reader into his world.


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