Title: The Full Moon Bride
Author: Shobhan Bantwal
Release Date: July 26, 2011
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Multicultural Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
As an Indian who was born and raised in America, Soorya Giri has always looked down on the concept of arranged marriages. But now that she’s in her thirties, she can’t help but agree to her parents’ requests to set up meetings with prospective husbands; after all, she has never even been kissed before. Through her parents, Soorya meets Roger Vadepelli, a handsome and charming man, but she is sure he won’t be interested in her. But Soorya gets more than she bargained for when, all of a sudden, she has more than one man vying for her affections, and she doesn’t know how to handle her newfound charms.
I’ve enjoyed Shobhan Bantwal’s previous novels (reviews of The Forbidden Daughter, The Sari Shop Widow, and The Unexpected Son) so I was excited to see she had tackled an entirely new subject in The Full Moon Bride – the experience of the first generation Americans, the children of immigrants.
Soorya was a very unique character. She was smart and capable, as evidenced by her job at a top New York City law firm for environmental law. But what surprised me about her was that she was over 30 and still living at home with her parents, and no real explanation was given for that. Of course, it could be the incredibly high rent prices in New York, or the fact that she didn’t feel like she had a need to move out – I just found that strange, though in the grand scheme of things, it’s not really important.
What really struck me about Soorya, though, were her self esteem and body image issues. Being over 30 and never having been kissed properly, I understand how those nagging doubts could creep up on her, thinking something is wrong with her as a result. But she perceived herself as unattractive, and as a result, she could not imagine how anyone could possibly be attracted to her. When Soorya finds herself with the attention of more than one man, it’s really interesting to see how she deals with it, as well as how, even in the face of such obvious attention, she still can’t see the beauty that others perceive.
I also enjoyed the discussion of arranged marriages in The Full Moon Bride. Being raised in the United States, Soorya’s immediate reaction is confusion and revulsion. But as she matures, she begins to consider it a possibility – after all, it worked out really well for her own parents. Can anyone really be happy, marrying someone they barely know? Will love eventually come, as her parents assure her it will? These are interesting questions that no one really has the answers for, and Soorya isn’t sure she wants to take the risks in order to discover if arranged marriage might work for her.
I enjoyed The Full Moon Bride – it had all the heart and wisdom I’ve come to expect from Shobhan Bantwal’s books, as well as the discussion of contemporary issues facing Indians today. I thought Soorya was an excellent character, frustrating at times, but I so enjoyed watching her grow and learn so much about herself and the world around her. This was a light, quick novel that fans of multicultural and women’s fiction definitely should pick up.