Thursday, September 3, 2009

Guest Post: Shobhan Bantwal, author of THE SARI SHOP WIDOW

Today it is an honor and privilege to welcome Shobhan Bantwal, author of THE SARI SHOP WIDOW to A Sea of Books. This book was one of my most favorite and enjoyable reads of 2009 and is destined for my all-time favorites Hall of Fame. You can read a synopsis of the story and my review here. There's also an book excerpt at the bottom of this post.


By Shobhan Bantwal

Set on the streets of Edison, New Jersey’s Little India, this is the story of a young businesswoman who rediscovers the magic of love, family, and her Hindu traditions as she fights to save her failing sari boutique. This is “Bollywood in a Book.”

Why did I make the backdrop for The Sari Shop Widow an upscale fashion boutique? I have always been fascinated by the intricacies of owning an ethnic fashion business in the heart of America. Living in New Jersey, I am a frequent visitor and shopper at Little India, a quaint enclave of clothing and jewelry shops, posh restaurants as well as fast food eateries, video and music stores, and grocery markets. Stepping into a community like that is like experiencing a delicious slice of India.

It made a lot of sense for me to make my protagonist, Anjali Kapadia, a strong-willed and talented fashion designer of ethnic clothing struggling to succeed in the growing and highly competitive world of fashion design and merchandising.

How does a storeowner like Anjali make her boutique stand out in sea of similar businesses? First she gives it a distinctive name like Silk & Sapphires. Then she dresses it up to fit the name, a classy storehouse of delightfully lush silk saris, slinky outfits, beaded, sequined, embroidered, and trimmed with gold and silver thread, rare jewelry studded with gems from India, and an atmosphere of cool elegance fit for a Maharani, an empress.

When Anjali realizes her beloved boutique is in financial trouble, she is naturally upset and desperate to save it. But how far is she willing to go to salvage what she considers her most precious asset next to her family? The Sari Shop Widow is how Anjali goes about the business of saving Silk & Sapphires. Little does she know what her karma has in store as she fights a valiant battle to keep what is hers.

For a preview, see the book trailer at:

Enter a drawing for a chance to win a costume jewelry set or one of five autographed copies of THE SARI SHOP WIDOW between Sept 1 and Sept 30, 2009 by signing up on the “Contests” page of my website:



By Shobhan Bantwal

Chapter 1

For the second time in ten years her life was beginning to come apart. Anjali Kapadia stood still for a minute, trying to absorb the news. Could it possibly be a mistake? But it wasn’t; she’d heard it clearly. Despite her best efforts to curb it, the initial shock wave refused to ebb. The seemingly harmless bit of information was all it had taken to shatter the image of a satisfying lifestyle and career.

Her mind in overdrive, she started to pace the length of the tasteful and elegant boutique. Her boutique—her baby—her artistic and inventive skills put to optimum use in creating a fairytale store worthy of movie stars, models, and beauty queens.

Technically the business belonged to her and her parents as equal partners, but it was Anjali’s creativity and vision that had turned it into a classy and successful enterprise—at least until recently. It stood apart like a maharani, a queen amongst the ordinary, plain-vanilla sari and clothing shops of New Jersey’s “Little India.”

The area known as Little India, located in Edison, was crammed with sari shops, jewelry stores, restaurants, grocery markets and souvenir shops. It was a small slice of India buried in central New Jersey, a quaint neighborhood that smelled of pungent curry, fried onions, ripe mangoes, incense, and masala chai. Strong tea laced with spices and oodles of thick, creamy milk.

Even the store’s name was Anjali’s brainstorm. Overrun with ho-hum and even dumpy names and ugly storefronts, Little India was badly in need of some class. So she’d called her store Silk & Sapphires. It had a nice ring to it, and according to Hindu astrology, a sapphire supposedly dispelled the destructive influence of the fiery planet Shanee. Saturn. The store’s window displayed the most elegant mannequins and rare jewelry to give it a boutique flavor rather than just a sari-cum-bauble shop.

The interior was done in soft cream and shimmering blue to fit the name. Tear-drop crystal chandeliers hung from a vaulted ceiling. Strategically placed recessed lights highlighted the displays, mirrored walls created the illusion of space and light, and dense cream carpeting covered the sales floor and fitting rooms. Only soft instrumental music by both Indian and other masters was piped in through the sound system.

Shopping at Silk & Sapphires was meant to be a unique and indulgent experience.

Nearly every piece of clothing the store sold was designed by Anjali, each outfit envisioned, then meticulously planned, cut, sewn, and embellished to her demanding specifications. Every design was exclusive.

She glanced at them and exhaled a long sigh. The colorful silks, the clingy chiffons, and the gossamer tissue-crepes were draped in an exquisite array on their pretty satin hangers—row upon row of lush, costly clothes. The pearls, the rainbow of beads, and the jewel-tone sequins sparkled and winked at her as she strode up and down the aisles, again and again.

What had gone wrong? How? When?

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.


bermudaonion said...

I just got this book and I'm really anxious to read it since you loved it so much. I love the guest post!

Zibilee said...

Great post! The clothes in that boutique sound fabulous, and I can't wait to read this book!

Shobhan Bantwal said...

Once again, thanks, Gwendolyn, for hosting me on your lovely blog and for your enthusiastic support.

Shobhan Bantwal

bookmagic said...

This book looks excellent and I am going to try to win a copy. Also, your review was great, thanks