Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Blog Tour and Book Review #17: SARI SHOP WIDOW by Shobhan Bantwal

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Pub. Date: September 2009
Sales Rank: 97,288

About The Sari Shop WidowPungent curry, sweet fried onions, incense, colorful beads, and lush fabrics - THE SARI SHOP WIDOW is a novel set on the streets of Edison, New Jersey's Little India, where a young businesswoman rediscovers the magic of love and family. When Anjali Kapadia's posh sari boutique in New Jersey is on the verge of financial ruin, her wealthy uncle from India comes to her rescue.But the wily, dictatorial uncle arrives with some unpleasant surprises--a young Indo-British partner named Rishi Shah for one--and a startling secret that disturbs Anjali.

Falling in love with the mysterious Shah only adds to Anjali's burgeoning list of complications. Torn between her loyalty to her family and her business on the one hand and her growing attraction for a man who could never fit into her life on the other, Anjali turns to her family and cultural roots to make a life-altering decision.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:
Let's not beat around the bush: I absolutely love this book! The main character, Anjali, is a beautiful, smart yet vulnerable businesswoman. As a 37-year-old widow, she lives in New Jersey with her parents who immigrated from India years ago. Anjali has one foot in her family's traditional Hindu world and the other in modern American society. She deftly manages to juggle fulfilling her parents' expectations of a dutiful daughter with her own needs and desires as an independent adult woman.
True, I first fell in love with the gorgeous cover of THE SARI SHOP WIDOW. I printed out a copy of the picture and taped it near my computer, glancing at it frequently and eagerly anticipating getting my hands on the actual book. When I was offered the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and receive a copy of the book in pdf, I jumped at the chance. I loaded up my printer with some scrap copy paper and started printing away. I clipped the pages together in groups of about 5 chapters each, and every night for a week, I climbed into bed with my bundle of pages.
Though THE SARI SHOP WIDOW is a quick and easy read, I really enjoyed rationing the chapters throughout the week. I could have read it all in one afternoon, but this approach allowed me to linger with the completely engaging characters. Every day I looked forward to the next installment. During the workday, a glance at the book cover pinned up by my desk brought to mind the exotic scents of the Indian meals Anjali and her mother prepared for her conservative uncle during his extended visit with the family. I could hear the click-clack of Anjali's high heels as she walked through her upscale sari shop, Silk & Sapphires, arranging displays and assisting customers. I envisioned the vibrant colors and felt the luxurous silks of the saris and imagined them fluttering in the slight breeze as Anjali briskly took care of business. During my breaks, I would take a peak at Shobhan Bantwal's website and soak up information and images of Indian culture. And finally, at the end of each day, nestled in bed with that evening's alloted chapters, I moved into Anjali's world where she slowly learned how to blend the traditional and the modern aspects of her life and found the courage to risk falling in love and embarking on a new way of living.
As much as I loved this book, it's not without a couple of flaws. There are passages where the writing is a bit awkward, and sometimes I grew impatient with Anjali's continuing reluctance to embrace her second chance at love and happiness. While I feel obligated to mention these little bits that I didn't like, I so enjoyed THE SARI SHOP WIDOW and my whole reading experience, that I scoff at my own criticism of the book! Who cares if it's not perfect? I fell in love, and I'm betting you will, too!
Come back tomorrow to read an excerpt of THE SARI SHOP WIDOW as well as a guest post by Shobhan Banwal.
About Shobhan Banwal

Shobhan Bantwal calls her writing “Bollywood in a Book,” romantic, colorful, action-packed tales, rich with elements of her own Indian culture -- stories that entertain and educate. She is an award-winning women's fiction author of three published novels and has contributed to an anthology of short stories. Shobhan writes for a variety of publications including The Writer magazine, India Abroad, Little India, U.S. 1, Desi Journal, India Currents, Overseas Indian, and New Woman India. Her short stories have won honors/awards in contests sponsored by Writer's Digest, New York Stories and New Woman magazines

For a preview of the book, visit -

Order Your Copy at Amazon -

For more information on Shobhan Bantwal's new and other books and to enter a drawing to win a number of prizes, please go to her website's “Contests” page and sign up between Sept 1 and Sept 30, 2009 at

Full September Virtual Tour Details -

Thank you to Nikki Leigh and Promo 101 Virtual Blog Tours
for organizing this tour
and for providing me with my review copy of THE SARI SHOP WIDOW.


Nikki Leigh said...

Love the review :) I'm the same way with Shobhan's books - I could easily block out the rest of the world and do nothing else until I finish it. But I prefer to linger and try really hard to make myself put it down. I did the same thing with printing out a limited number of chapters - that made me ration :)

I don't think her indecision made me impatient - I wanted to nudge her a few times, but understood her reluctance and concern.

I mentioned in my review that the book definitely touches all our senses as we read it :)

Nikki Leigh

Laughing Stars said...

What a lovely review! I am a real sucker for fiction that takes me into different cultures.

Jo-Jo said...

What a great review. I should be reading this one within the next month and I'm definitely looking forward to it.

bermudaonion said...

I love the cover of this book too and think it sounds fantastic! Thanks for the great review.

Zibilee said...

Great review! I am glad you liked the book. I read her first book, Forbidden Daughter, and thought that it was very good as well. If you haven't read that one yet, I think you would like it.

Diane said...

I LOVED your review, and plan to read my copy by the middle of the month! Glad u liked this one.

Cathy said...

I have been waiting for this book to be released - the cover is beautiful. I live in NJ and have been to 'little India' in Iselin several times - can't wait to read the book.

I have tagged you for the ABC meme - One eyed stuffed bunny and ...

Shobhan Bantwal said...

Thank you, Gwendolyn, for a positive and honest review of THE SARI SHOP WIDOW, and for hosting me on your popular blog during my virtual tour.

Congratulations on the nomination for the Awards! Well deserved, I must say.

Also, thanks to all the folks who have posted such enthusiastic and supportive comments.

Happy Reading!

Shobhan Bantwal

Hi! I'm Grace said...

Hi Gwendolyn, thanks for these book reviews. I love books. It is so nice to know you and your blog. :)

Gwendolyn B. said...

Ms. Bantwal: Thank you for stopping by - it's a delight to talk about your book! I know your other books have a more somber subject matter, but I am looking forward to reading them in the next few months. I wish you all the best with THE SARI SHOP WIDOW.
P.S. - Nice of you to mention my awards - thanks!