Sonali Dev: A Bollywood Affair

Sonali Dev’s delightful debut novel, A Bollywood Affair, begins with a wedding, a wedding that will complicate several lives and cause no end of emotional turmoil. The wedding takes place in a small rural village in India. The bride is four years old, the groom twelve. The groom’s ten-year-old brother watches the festivities with more interest than the groom displays, and tries to comfort the sobbing bride, at least until his ill-tempered and dictatorial grandfather drives him off.

A Bollywood AffairTwenty years later Mili considers herself a married woman, although she hasn’t seen her husband, Virat, since the day of the wedding. She dreams of the day her husband will return to claim her, but in the meantime her married status has allowed her to go to college, and she’s about to embark on a new adventure, an eight-month graduate course in sociology—in Michigan.

While Mili has been dreaming of her husband, now an officer in the Indian Air Force, he hasn’t given her a second thought, believing the barely remembered child-marriage has long since been annulled. When he finds out it hasn’t, his younger brother Samir, now a well-known Bollywood director (and equally well-known playboy) heads for Michigan to persuade the naïve little village girl to sign the annulment papers.

Of course what should be a simple task proves not to be. Mili may be a naïve village girl, but she’s also smart, educated, and determined to honor her obligations. Samir may be a cynical playboy, but there’s something about this girl, this unexpected sister-in-law, that forces changes he never expected in his view of life. While Mili tries to figure out what the future holds for her, Samir finds himself face to face with the past he has done his best to forget.

A Bollywood Affair is a charming and emotionally satisfying romance. It is also a fascinating look at various facets of Indian culture. We see life Mili’s tiny rural village and Samir’s in the sophisticated circles of Mumbai. And then there’s Ridhi, Mili’s Michigan roommate, happily balanced between two cultures: American enough to insist on marrying a man her family would have considered unsuitable back in India, but Indian enough to delight in an extravagant Indian wedding (in Columbus, Ohio).

I thoroughly enjoyed A Bollywood Affair—my only complaint is that I can’t taste any of the delicious-sounding Indian food Mili, Samir, and their friends enjoy throughout the story. I’ll be looking forward to Dev’s next book, The Bollywood Bride, due out in 2015.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryl Bolen
    Jan 01, 2015 @ 12:04:44

    Sounds very good to me. I love books about those in different cultures.



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