“We can’t just knock off everyone we don’t like. This isn’t Indian Idol“
Parini Shroff~ The Bandit Queens
Geeta’s no-good husband disappeared five years ago. She didn’t kill him, but everyone thinks she did–no matter how much she protests.
But she soon discovers that being known as a “self-made” widow has some surprising perks. No one messes with her, no one threatens her, and no one tries to control (ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for her business; no one wants to risk getting on her bad side by not buying her jewellery.
Freedom must look good on Geeta, because other women in the village have started asking for her help to get rid of their own no-good husbands… but not all of them are asking nicely.
Now that Geeta’s fearsome reputation has become a double-edged sword, she must decide how far to go to protect it, along with the life she’s built. Because even the best-laid plans of would-be widows tend to go awry.
This book is extremely readable, and I was hooked from the first page. Although it deals with serious topics like poverty, alcoholism and domestic violence, it’s also very funny and pokes fun at motherhood. It is very dialogue heavy, but this helps with the book’s fast pace and the characters are brilliant.
Geeta is a great character and accidentally falls into the role of helper so her friends can get rid of their husbands; as a reluctant accessory her journey is humorous and sad, but it is also one of self-discovery.
Although initially this was a five star read for me, the middle was quite slow and towards the end it became slightly farcical and lacked credibility; perhaps this would play out better on screen, but in the book it feels clumsy and ridiculous. I also questioned some of the stereotypes in the book, which seemed to go too far, but some of the others on the readalong were able to provide answers and further information, which was really helpful for my understanding of the culture and traditions.
Overall, it’s an interesting book, with plenty of historical information, and you will be rooting for these women as they gradually kill off their husbands and get away with it!
Thanks to Atlantic Books and Tandem Collective for my copy. Opinions my own.