Thursday, February 8, 2018

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

4 Stars

First let me take a moment to say that I carried this around for TWO DAYS at work and not one person asked me what I was reading. I can’t get in the stinking elevator or make a cup of coffee any other day without someone asking that question, but when I’m sitting on a goldmine of awkward title????? Nope . . . .

I don’t know how I planted the idea in my own head that this was going to be like The Joy Luck Club, but I sure enough thought that’s what it was going to be. (In case you aren’t familiar, that is the story of four Chinese women and the sharing of memories of the most monumental moments of their lives in hopes their American-born daughters will understand what made them the way they are.) In case you were wondering even more, that book (and movie) made me cry the ugliest of all the cries and I highly recommend it. I’m happy to report Punjabi Widows did not (and wasn’t supposed to) do the same.

The story here is one of the East-meets-West variety about Nikki, a 20-something “modern London girl” who doesn’t quite know what she wants to be when she grows up, but applies to teach a “writing workshop” two days a week to ladies at the local Sikh Community Center in order to be able to tell her mother she does something other than work in a pub. What she doesn’t realize until her first class is the students have literally signed up to learn how to WRITE – not stories, but the alphabet. These women are widows from traditional households where educating girls was the least of the family’s concerns and some of which were married (or at least had their marriages arranged) when they were just children. When Nikki arrives on day two with a bag of workbooks and games from the local charity shop in order to begin her arduous task, Red Velvet: Pleasurable Stories for Women - a book intended to be a gag gift for Nikki’s conservative/wants to arrange her own marriage sister – becomes the focus of the widows. It is then the women decide they would prefer a storytelling class – they will each make up stories and the one widow who knows how to write will transcribe them. And then????

“Whoa! I was not expecting that. I thought these were going to be granny romance stories. These are all-out naughty.”

Please don’t get confused and think this was only a “dirty book.” It did have a bit of similarity to The Joy Luck Club as well as a bit of The Help. Most surprising of all, this could have been considered a selection for the Winter Reading Challenge . . . .

And been a better fit than a couple of the books I read. It was chick lit at its finest and I’m glad that bizarre little title popped up on my feed and caught my eye.

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