Title: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People
Author: Farahad Zama
Release Date: June 11, 2009
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Genre: Multicultural Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the publisher’s website:
What does an Indian man with a wealth of common sense do when his retirement becomes too monotonous for him to stand? Open a marriage bureau of course!
With a steady stream of clients to keep him busy, Mr. Ali sees his new business flourish as the indomitable Mrs. Ali and his careful assistant, Aruna, look on with vigilant eyes. There’s the man who wants a tall son-in-law because his daughter is short; the divorced woman who ends up back with her ex-husband; a salesman who can’t seem to sell himself; and a wealthy, young doctor for whom no match is ever perfect. But although his clients go away happy, little does Mr. Ali know that his esteemed Aruna hides a tragedy in her past—a misfortune that the bureau, as luck would have it, serendipitously undoes.
Bursting with the color and allure of India, and with a cast of endearing characters, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People has shades of Jane Austen and Alexander McCall Smith but with a resonance and originality entirely its own. Farahad’s effortless style reveals a country still grappling with the politics of caste, religion, and civil unrest, all the while delivering a shamefully delightful read.
When I first heard about The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, I thought it sounded like a really charming book. I was confused, though; virtually everything I had read about the book compared it to Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. How is a book set in India about a matchmaking services comparable to a mystery series set in Botwana?
The answer is that both books are delightfully simple reads about life in a foreign country. There is no central event or dramatic occurrence in The Marriage Bureau for Rich People. Instead, it’s about the simplicity of every day life in India as Mr. Ali builds his matchmaking business. That’s not to say this novel is mundane in any way. Instead, the uncomplicated nature of this book is what makes it so appealing.
I also loved the social undercurrents that The Marriage Bureau for Rich People exposed. While it is a book without pretense, it manages to discuss all kinds of social issues. India is a country that is experiencing a multitude of changes right now. The traditional aspects of society are clashing with the Western ideals that Indian youth are adopting. This book presents this social dilemma in an irresistible way.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Marriage Bureau for Rich People. The characters were very well-written and appealing, and I loved the premise. Every time Mr. Ali made a match, I felt his satisfaction and happiness. This is a fascinating yet straightforward book that is a complete joy to read. I highly recommend it!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to review!