One sultry night, a young bride overhears an extraordinary conversation. The voices speak of a plot to murder a wife who has failed to produce a child and whose family has failed to produce the promised dowry. . .
Megha is sick with horror when she realizes she is the intended victim. Her husband--the very man who tied the sacred necklace of marriage around her neck--and his mother are plotting to kill her! In the moment of panic, she runs for her life. Frantically racing through Palgaum's deserted streets, her way lit only by the lights strung up for the Diwali festival, her single goal is to escape death by fire. But fleeing from her would-be killers seems impossible--unless she can find someone to help her. . .
To approach her best friend would bring scandal to an innocent woman's doorstep, and turning to her own strict, conservative family is out of the question. Instead, with nothing but the sari she wears and a memory of kindness, Megha finds her way to Kiran, the one man who has shown her friendship and respect. Hiding her in his apartment, Kiran becomes her protector. But the forbidden attraction that grows between them can only bring more danger. . .
Caught between tradition and the truths buried in her heart, a dowry bride will discover the real cost of the only things worth having in life. . .
"Packed with detail. . .splendidly depicts passion, brutality, and cultures in conflict." --Dorothy Garlock
A young Indian bride flees her marriage after overhearing her husband and mother-in-law plot her murder in Bantwal's middling debut. Angry that, a year after the arranged marriage, Megha's father has not paid the dowry and Megha has not yet become pregnant, Amma, her husband's mother, wants her dead. Megha bolts and turns to Kiran, her husband's cousin, whom she remembers as being kind. While Amma searches for Megha, Megha and Kiran feel a forbidden spark. Bantwal lays on thick rich cultural detail, but it's not enough to overcome the uninspired prose and thin characters: the villains are poor, ugly, boorish and lack motivation for their cruel acts, while the heroes are rich, handsome and polite (says Kiran: "I happen to believe in things like decency and integrity, you know"). The ending may surprise, but getting to it can be exasperating.
Loved the book over all, but wanted to see/ read about the wedding.
Consciousness raising, but unsophisticated prose
Although the topic and culture intrigued me, I found the writing unsophisticated; I wondered if the book was geared to a young adult audience. The book could use tighter editing. I think the book would have benefitted from cutting a quarter to one third out. There is a lot of repetition and many scenes or segments drag on. The plot is very predictable, not much is left to the imagination. I liked how Ms. Bantwal interpreted Hindi words and explained customs throughout, but she explained too much of the plot and the meaning of characters' actions, rather then letting the reader experience the joy of discovering the meaning for his or herself. For discerning readers interested in learning about Indian culture through a fictional medium, I recommend reading Jhumpa Lahiri instead.