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Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki

Bitter Sweets

by Roopa Farooki

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3495131,317 (3.34)59



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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
I loved Half Life by Roopa Farooki, but unfortunately Bitter Sweets fell a little short. An interesting story, but kind of all over the place at the same time. ( )
  erelsi183 | Nov 18, 2013 |
This novel starts off in Bangladesh, when Rashid (aka Ricky) Karim, a 17 year old youth with a promising future, is tricked into marrying Henna Rub, a manipulative and deceitful 13 year old, who sees marriage and subsequent motherhood as a way to escape school.

Years later, their daughter Shona elopes with a Pakistani who her family do not approve of. Shona and her husband Parvez run away to London, where money is short, but they are convinced that their love will keep them together. They have twin sons, Omar and Sharif.

As all three generations of the family negotiate their way through life, love and lies, they find themselves seemingly headed on a course to disaster. Will they ever find a way out of their tangled lives?

This book was a very pleasant surprise. When I started it, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but I found myself hooked on the story and eager to find out what would happen next. The tale takes place in London and Bangladesh, and I enjoyed the descriptions of both places.

If there is a main character, it is probably Shona; she is a beautifully drawn character, and so believable. She is intelligent and compassionate, but also has very human flaws, lying to herself as often as she tries to hide the truth from others. I liked her very much. The other characters are also well developed and easy to believe in.

The storyline had some twists and turns, and kept me hooked. The family soon became ensnared in the tangled web of lies of which they had become part. I had no idea how things would turn out, and thought that the ending when it came was very satisfying. There were themes of humour, sadness, anger and love running throughout the story; the title of this book is very apt, as it was certainly bittersweet.

This is the first book I’ve read by Roopa Farooki, but I am certainly going to seek out her other novels. ( )
  Ruth72 | Apr 27, 2011 |
A disappointment. While I rather liked the author's fourth novel ("Half Life") - to the extent that it got me curious and made me go back to read her debut work - I was disappointed in "Bitter Sweets". To me, it seemed as if this book was written by another person. Strange as it may seem, in this book the plot is much better than the writing itself. So I rather struggled through the novel, losing interest. On the other hand, if we think of writing as a process of gaining experience and getting better, in my humble opinion this is what is happening with this author: the fourth novel being much better than the first. Thus, I am not discouraged and will probably look for R.Farooki's 2nd and 3rd novels. ( )
  Clara53 | Jul 21, 2010 |
The book started off quite slowly, and it felt like it was going to be a chore to read. However, as is often the case, once I'd got about a third of the way through the book I started to really get into it and struggled to put it down. The story is well woven together and is about deception and its consequences. It was actually very thought-provoking. ( )
  Fluffyblue | Jan 24, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A surprisingly good first novel. The author explores the role of family secrets and deception in the lives of her characters, as well as the common theme of children repeating the patterns of their parents. The characters in this book aren't fully realized and their lives intersect and replicate in ways that are slightly too contrived and convenient. Nonetheless, the book was highly readable and enjoyable and managed to wrap up the tale in a relatively satisfying way without falling too deeply into the trap of writing an epilogue that describes everything that happens to the characters for the next two decades. This strikes me as an author to watch -- I wouldn't rush to recommend this book, but the author definitely shows promise. ( )
  msjoanna | Jan 4, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
By the end of this enjoyably breezy book it becomes clear that Ms. Farooki has been maneuvering her characters toward a major showdown. She contrives a twist of fate that will drag their hidden lives into the light. To her credit she does not make “Bitter Sweets” descend into either screwball revelations or angry ones. Despite its emphasis on deception, dislocation and the loss of love, her book retains a cheery consistency: It has managed to be sunnily devious from the start. And it delivers a refreshing message. Only by means of all their elaborate deceptions do these characters figure out who they really are.
As a debut work from a female novelist writing about the Bangladeshi diaspora, Bitter Sweets will invite comparison with Monica Ali's Brick Lane. Don't be deceived by Farooki's lighter, less political touch - at the heart of her intimate canvas lies a compelling emotional rigour.
added by kidzdoc | editThe Telegraph, Lucy Beresford (Feb 25, 2007)
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Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand
With a grip that kills it.
Rabindranath Tagore, Fireflies, 1928

The truth is rarely pure, and never simple.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895
For my mother, my husband and my son, because they are all funny, kind and beautiful—although not necessarily in that order.
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Henna was thirteen when she was gleefully married off to the eldest son of one of the best families in Calcutta, and her marriage was achieved by an audacious network of lies as elaborate and brazen as the golden embroidery on her scarlet wedding sari.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312360525, Hardcover)

With this spellbinding first novel about the destructive lies three immigrant generations of a Pakistani/Bangladeshi family tell each other, Roopa Farooki adds a fresh new voice to the company of Zadie Smith, Jhumpa Lahiri and Arudhati Roy.
Henna Rub is a precocious teenager whose wheeler-dealer father never misses a business opportunity and whose sumptuous Calcutta marriage to wealthy romantic Ricky-Rashid Karim is achieved by an audacious network of lies. Ricky will learn the truth about his seductive bride, but the way is already paved for a future of double lives and deception--family traits that will filter naturally through the generations, forming an instinctive and unspoken tradition. Even as a child, their daughter Shona, herself conceived on a lie and born in a liar's house, finds telling fibs as easy as ABC. But years later, living above a sweatshop in South London's Tooting Bec, it is Shona who is forced to discover unspeakable truths about her loved ones and come to terms with what superficially holds her family together--and also keeps them apart--across geographical, emotional and cultural distance. 
Roopa Farooki has crafted an intelligent, engrossing and emotionally powerful Indian family saga that will stay with you long after you've read the last page.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:38 -0400)

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Follows the machinations of a Bangladeshi-Pakistani family whose penchant for telling lies shapes the destinies of every member, from Henna, who lies her way into a marriage to a wealthy romantic, to her daughter Shona, who struggles with the superficialties binding her loved ones.… (more)

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