Monday, August 9, 2010

Guest Post: Shobhan Bantwal - Marriage By Arrangement

Today, I am honored and thrilled to welcome one of my favorite authors, Shobhan Bantwal, to A Sea of Books. Ms. Bantwal has just published her fourth novel, The Unexpected Son. Check back tomorrow for my review. (I'll give you a hint: I loved it!)

Marriage by Arrangement
by Shobhan Bantwal - author of The Unexpected Son

While arranged marriage may seem like an antiquated practice to most Americans, it has been around for thousands of years and has worked rather well in establishing the institutions of family, community, and even entire civilizations. To this day, many conservative Europeans and Jews practice arranged marriage, albeit subtly and not as frequently as they did a hundred years ago.

In my own Indian culture, what started out as a way to assure the compatibility of a couple by matching partners from similar social and economic backgrounds has worked so well over the centuries that it continues in the same vein in contemporary India. The divorce rate in India and similar cultures is a fraction of what it is in the western world.

I had a strictly arranged marriage more than 36 years ago and I'm still happily married to the same man. Arranging a marriage is not some magic formula. It is all based in the fact that family is valued above all else. To preserve that precious unit, people passionately work towards finding partners who will support it and nurture it. And who better than experienced and wise elders to go about seeking a suitable bride for their sons or grooms for their daughters?

Arranging a marriage is serious business in my culture. An intricate network of relatives, neighbors and friends are involved in the process. The horoscopes of the potential bride and groom are often matched, dowries may be discussed behind closed doors (although, not all Indian communities follow the dowry system), educational levels, likes and dislikes, hobbies, and a whole list of items that apply to both parties. Indian marriages are not just between two individuals but two families, and in rural areas, between two communities.

All my books and short stories have some reference to arranged marriage. In my latest novel, The Unexpected Son, the protagonist has a happy arranged marriage, until a shocking letter abruptly turns her cozy life upside down. A closely-guarded secret comes to haunt her after 30 long years.

A Note From Shobhan Bantwal - Information about my books, video trailers, contact, photos from India, reviews, contests, and recipes is available on my website: All my books can be purchased at any retail bookstore or online bookseller.

For more information about The Unexpected Son virtual tour, visit

About The Unexpected Son (from the publisher):
What happens when a woman who's realized her dreams wakes up to a shocking truth? It is a morning like any other in suburban New Jersey when Vinita Patil opens the battered envelope postmarked “Mumbai.” But the letter inside turns her comfortable world upside down. It tells Vinita an impossible story: she has a grown son in India whose life may depend on her.

Once upon a time, a naive young college girl fell for a wealthy boy whose primary interests were cricket and womanizing. Vinita knew, even then, that a secret affair with a man whose language and values were different from her own was a mistake. He finished with her soon enough--leaving her to birth a baby that was stillborn. Or so Vinita was told.

Now that child is a grown man in desperate need. How will she confess her secret past to her arranged-marriage husband and her grown daughter? Nonetheless, to help her son, to know him, Vinita must revisit her darkest hours by returning to her battle-scarred homeland--and pray for the faith of the family she leaves behind.

About Shobhan Bantwal (from the publisher):
Shobhan Bantwal calls her writing “Bollywood in a Book,”romantic, colorful, action-packed tales, rich with elements of Indian culture -- stories that entertain and educate.

Her writing career is a “menopausal epiphany,” because she took up creative writing at the age of 50. By day Shobhan works for the government. In the evenings and on weekends she slips into her writer's cape and flies off to Authorland. She loves writing stories about her native India and Hindu culture.

To date, Shobhan has four published novels by Kensington Publishing, with a fifth slated for 2011. Since 2002, Shobhan's articles and short stories have appeared in a variety of publications. Her award-winning stories are available for reading on her website:

Natasha from Princeton Community Television on Vimeo.

For more information about The Unexpected Son virtual tour, visit

Thank you to Nikki Leigh and Promo 101 Virtual Blog Tours
for organizing this tour.


itsJUSTme said...

Hmmm, these both sound very interesting!

While my husband and I were not an "arranged marriage" we were a blind date set up by people who knew both of us well, and... well we have been married for 16 yrs. and are very happy!

Jo-Jo said...

What a great guest post. I love hearing the perspective from someone who actually has an arranged marriage...and a successful one at that!

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I have not read this author yet but I think I may have to start with The Unexpected Son. It sounds like a good read. I like to read about other cultures. Great guest post!

Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Unexpected Son sounds wonderful. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention.

Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

wow this sounds like a really great novel. I love stories about Indian Culture. I will have to add this to my wishlist. Great post!

Shobhan Bantwal said...


Thanks so much for featuring me on your blog. And thank you, ladies, all of you, for posting such lovely comments. I sincerely hope you get yourself a copy and read my book.

Shobhan Bantwal
author of The Unexpected Son

Gwendolyn B. said...

Ms. Bantwal:

It was an honor and a pleasure to host you here at A Sea of Books. I thank you for all your wonderful writing and for shining a light on the intracacies of our cultures.

I used to think arranged marriages were more political and convenient, like royal marriages. Knowing that it is more likely that everyone involved has the happiness and success of the couple in mind has really changed my view of this practice.

Looking forward to your next wonderful book!

Alyce said...

It is hard for me to imagine being in an arranged marriage, because I value my freedom of choice so much. The funny thing is that I think the man I married is pretty close to what my parents would have chosen. I went off to college and ended up marrying the son of one of my dad's co-workers. Sometimes I wonder if my dad did have a hand in it in some way. He told me whatever I did not to make that Reese boy fall in love with me - I couldn't resist that kind of a challenge and I'm pretty sure he knew it.

globalbabble said...

I am curious to read the book because it reminds me of Bollywood films - I am thinking Kabhie Kabhie. Would be interesting to see if it can beat the film :-)

Though, I am not sure why the discussion was about arranged marriage when the book is about an unexpected son (could have happened anyway and anywhere in the world). I guess I will have to read the book.

Zibilee said...

I think Bantwal is a great author and I have really loved some of her books! It's interesting to know what she thinks about arranged marriage, and to find out that her marriage was arranged as well. This was a very cool post and I am glad to have seen it. Thanks!

grannyvon said...

I have read about arranged marriages but never from one who was in one. I have to read her books. Bollywood the are!

librarypat said...

Sounds most interesting. Although there are some problems, in most cases the families are looking out for the best interests and happiness of their children.

One can hope the marriage and relationships are strong enough to survive news of something that happened long before the marriage was arranged.