Review: The Sari Shop

When I saw this title listed on Pump up your book Promotions, I just had to read it. Thank you Dorothy for the opportunity to participate in Shoban’s book tour.

Shoban Bantwal’s background: I was born and raised in a large, conservative Hindu family in a small town called Belgaum in Southwestern India. I was the black sheep of the family, the only tomboy and hellion in a family of five girls. My four sisters were angels—good little Brahmin girls with the perfect mix of academic achievement, modesty and deportment. Needless to say, I single-handedly gave my parents every gray hair they possessed, but they were wonderful parents and to a large degree I owe everything I am today to them. The most valuable things they gave me were an outstanding education and the love of reading.An arranged marriage to a man who happened to live in the U.S. brought me to New Jersey several years ago. After giving birth to a daughter and acquiring a second master’s degree in Public Administration from Rider University, I started working for a government agency, where I continue to work.
In the opening pages of this novel we learn that Anjali and her parents own a Sari shop, the store is not turning a profit and that Uncle Jeevan is coming to the rescue. Anjali, widowed after just a few years of marriages, returns home to help her parents with the Sari Shop. She makes beautiful custom garments and is in change of buying most of the stores items. We follow Anjali and her family as they try to turn around the business. Uncle Jeevan has unexpectedly brought his business for what started as a week long visit. To complicate matters, Anjali is torn between making her family proud and becoming the woman she want to become. This is a theme throughout the novel and reminds us of the strong bond within the indian culture.

I enjoyed learning about the family dynamics in the Indian culture while reading this story. The author’s writing style helps you along, you feel you are listening to Anjali share her tale. This was s great weekend read, an interesting and charming story that I would pass this along to a friend.

Author Q&A
Tell us a little about yourself:
My writing career began as a “menopausal epiphany.” Along with hot flashes, insomnia, hair loss, and mood swings came a sudden and unexpected urge to write stories in my middle age. What started as an absorbing hobby turned into a second full-time occupation. I now have a day job which is quite demanding and a writing career that is equally so. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure I am not dreaming all this. My loving family keeps me grounded and supports me through the ups and downs of being a published author.

Do you write daily? Unfortunately I am not a disciplined writer, so I write when the mood strikes. But when the creative juices are not flowing, I try to edit what I have already written.

What was it like getting your first novel published? Since I more or less stumbled into creative writing, I was a na├»ve and clueless beginner in 2004. I had no idea about querying agents, or what would appeal to a publisher. I just began to write what interested me, women’s fiction with romantic elements, but brimming with Indian cultural elements and characters. My books did not fit into any genre. They were what I call “Bollywood in a Book,” which encompasses mainstream, women’s fiction, romance, drama, and a bit of everything. I was stunned when after several rejections a reputable agent signed me on and Kensington Publishing offered me a two-book contract. THE DOWRY BRIDE was my first book, which really started out as a short story but I decided to expand into a full-length novel. The journey from wide-eyed novice to multi-published author has been fun but scary, fulfilling but challenging.

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? While I prefer the feel of a good old-fashioned hard copy book in my hands, I believe e-book readers are a sign of the future of book publishing. As the concept of a green economy gains momentum, Kindles, Sony Readers and such gizmos that use no paper will become the norm. I bet they will become smaller and more powerful, just like cell phones, watches, computers, and all other electronics that went from big and clunky to small and sleek and full of awesome features. Then everyone will tuck a little e-reader in their pocket and read whenever and wherever they want to.

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? I would say to aspiring writers: write what you like and write from your heart. With so many sub-genres appearing every year, whatever you create (written well of course) is likely to catch on eventually. I never thought my books would ever see the light of day, but readers send me wonderful feedback about how much they like my books, mainly because they are different. So keep on plugging away.

What are you reading now? Nora Roberts’s TRIBUTE. I am a huge Nora fan.

Lastly, share one or two of your all time favorite novels read, excluding classics: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, The Genesis Code by John Case
Just for fun:Favorite Season: Spring. I love its wealth of flowers and its promise of warm sunshine and balmy breezes.
Morning or night: Morning, especially a sunny morning.
Favorite ice cream flavor: Chocolate
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go: Greek Islands

To contact me or learn more about my books, author events, book trailer video, recipes, short stories, and sign up for my newsletter, visit my website

Click here to read another author interview

Type: Fiction, 352 pages, Trade paperback

Pungent curry…sweet fried onions…incense…colorful beads…lush fabrics. Shobhan Bantwal's compelling new novel is set on the streets of Edison, New Jersey's Little India, where a young businesswoman rediscovers the magic of love and family…
Since becoming a widow at age twenty-seven, Anjali Kapadia has devoted herself to transforming her parents' sari shop into a chic boutique, brimming with exquisite jewelry and clothing. Now, ten years later, it stands out like a proud maharani amid Edison's bustling Little India. But when Anjali learns the shop is on the brink of bankruptcy, she feels her world unraveling…

To the rescue comes Anjali's wealthy, dictatorial Uncle Jeevan and his business partner, Rishi Shah—a mysterious Londoner, complete with British accent, cool gray eyes, and skin so fair it makes it hard to believe he's Indian. Rishi's cool, foreign demeanor triggers distrust in Anjali and her mother. But for Anjali, he also stirs something else, a powerful attraction she hasn't felt in a decade. And the feeling is mutual…

Love disappointed Anjali once before and she's vowed to live without it—though Rishi is slowly melting her resolve and, as the shop regains its footing, gaining her trust. But when a secret from Rishi's past is revealed, Anjali must turn to her family and her strong cultural upbringing to guide her in finding the truth…