My Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Every woman has a secret life . . .
Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.
Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.
As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s “moral police.” But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.
I was pleasantly surprised at how many layers the plot contains. Yes, Nikki is teaching a story sharing class, but this book also tackles arranged marriages, grief, immigration, love, cultural divides, and a mystery. I found that this book was a little slow to start, but really picked up about halfway through. I loved that snippets of the erotic stories were included in the text! This was a really fun choice that really grounds the reader within the story and connects them with the characters.
I really enjoyed Nikki as a protagonist. Her character felt very real and relatable to me as she struggled to discover what to do for a career and how to balance her more traditional family with her preferred modern life. Kulwinder had the most interesting character journey, though. Initially, she comes across as very closed minded and distant. But as more and more of her backstory is revealed and she finally comes to terms with certain elements of her life, Kulwinder relearns how to feel joy, hope, and pleasure. The women in this story learn how to fight for themselves and stand up for what they believe is right.
I was really excited to pick up this book, not only because of its unusual subject matter, but because this story focuses on an Indian immigrant community. Stories like these aren’t usually pushed to the forefront and I enjoyed learning about so many different kinds of Indian foods, customs, and beliefs. This book was really eye opening. I also loved that this book really featured women of all kinds, and by that I mean that they had wants, needs, and dreams of their own. These women were kind, vindictive, nurturing, and sexy. These women were allowed to fit into as many boxes as they saw fit, rather than be defined by any predetermined labels.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book! I discovered this book because it’s the March pick for Reese Witherspoon’s book club. This was a really fun read and a quick one, too. It’s a great book to read in public as the title is so eye catching! I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you enjoy stories about family life and intergenerational stories.
This book is…
Publisher: William Morrow
Page Count: 320
Available here from IndieBound.
Have you read Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows? Would you have the courage to share an erotic story in a class?