Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review for An Incurable Insanity by Simi K. Rao

An Incurable Insanity
By Simi K. Rao

Publisher: Tate Publishing
Release Date: October 8, 2013

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Length: 376 Pages

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Book Description: 

Her heart fluttered when she heard the sound of the key turn in the lock. She quickly adjusted her maroon silk sari with the yellow border, the one that had caught his eye, and waited eagerly for his footsteps.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven... Yes, exactly seven steps before he stopped, hesitated for a few moments, then removed his shoes one by one and arranged them neatly side by side on the shoe rack.

She smiled. He had been mindful of taking his shoes off every day now. 'I am not used to it, but I will if you want me to. It's probably a good thing to do anyway.'

As he settled down, he would pick up the TV remote and, without looking at her, would say in his smooth baritone, 'So how did you spend your day, anything interesting?'

Shaan Ahuja found himself bowing to tradition and agreeing to an arranged marriage to the beautiful Ruhi Sharma. He went through the motions but had no intention of carrying through on his vows. His last foray into matters of the heart with an American girl had left him scarred and unwilling to try again. Thoroughly disillusioned and disgruntled he wasted no time in making his intentions clear to Ruhi on their wedding night. But, he was completely unprepared for what his new wife had in mind.

"In Rao’s debut novel, an arranged Indian marriage sets the stage for an intimate look at the exasperating madness of love.

Shaan Ahuja and Ruhi Sharma’s arranged marriage has an inauspicious start. Shaan spurns his new wife on their wedding night, still pining over the American lover he left back in Los Angeles. However, the begrudging spouses soon make a pact: Ruhi will stay with Shaan in the United States just long enough to avoid embarrassment. The young bride hopes she can use the time to win Shaan’s heart, and although Ruhi’s beauty and attentiveness do change Shaan’s feelings, his immaturity and inability to express himself—and Ruhi’s lingering mistrust—keep them from reconciling. As they attempt to be “friends without benefits,” they start to reveal their true selves, including her needling puckishness and independent spirit and the reasons for his reserved nature and impulsive jealousy. Their eventual reconciliation comes not from forgiveness but from acceptance and understanding. The novel trades in a certain amount of melodrama that, thanks to its light tone, comes across as indulgent but satisfying. ...The novel seems highly aware of its influences, using cultural expectations and delayed gratification in the same spirit, if not with the same deftness, as Jane Austen. Shaan and Ruhi also sometimes mirror the star-crossed lovers from Casablanca (a film that the book directly references). 

An often intoxicating,  will-they-or-won’t-they tale." - KIRKUS 

Buy Links:  Amazon Barnes & Noble Tate Publishing 

My Review

A mixture of contemporary romance, coming of age tale and multicultural fiction, Simi K. Rao’s An Incurable Insanity is a wonderful debut novel.  Facing an arranged marriage, Ms. Rao’s characters give us a chance to explore ancient traditions against the backdrop of a modern society with a high divorce rate.  We also get the chance to experience the cultural differences between two countries, men and women and the basic truth that all you need is love.

The only daughter of a well to do family in India, Ruhi Sharma faces a bright future; educated, loved and beautiful, she agrees to an arranged marriage to make her father happy.  She’s even encouraged to participate in the choice of her future husband and chooses Shaan Ahuja, the son of a family friend, whose picture she falls in love with.  Looking forward to her wedding and move to America, Ruhi is unprepared for what she discovers on her wedding night; a groom with no intentions of staying married who claims he’s given his heart to someone else.

A graduate student when he first came to the United States, Shaan Ahuja is now an aerospace engineer with no intentions of ever returning to India.  Involved in an unsatisfying affair with an American woman, Shaan is determined to avoid marriage at all costs.  At least until his father informs him his grandfather is dying and that his last wish is to see Shaan married.  Forced into an arranged marriage, Shaan is determined to make his intentions clear to his wife and plans to return her “untouched” to her family.  Only he never planned on his wife being determined to save her pride and demand a two month time period where they could gently break it to their families they’re not a good fit.  Agreeing to her plan, Shaan is unprepared for the realities of having a roommate who has no intentions of going home.

The scenes between Ruhi and Shaan are well written and full of emotional angst.   While Ruhi is infuriated with Shaan and his duplicity, she’s determined to save her family from the embarrassing truth and also save her pride.  While Shaan attempts to pretend Ruhi means nothing to his life, Ruhi quickly immerses herself into his house and attempts to break down his resistance – she’s not giving up her husband without a fight.  Ms. Rao does an excellent job developing her characters and dealing with the conflicting emotions they both undergo throughout the story.  While neither planned on an emotional war for the other’s heart, they do find themselves engaged in an emotional battle.  Ruhi wants to win her husband’s heart and feel love, while Shaan begins to realize he’s been used by his previous partner and that Ruhi could very well be everything he’s ever wanted. 

The secondary characters all contribute something to Ms. Rao’s tale; from Ruhi’s parents, to Shaan’s friends in America, the colorful people Ruhi meets at the bus stop and even the woman who stands between them at first.  Showcasing the strengths, and weaknesses of each culture, Ms. Rao gives us insight into Indian cuisine, traditions and their colorful emotions.   While an arranged marriage goes against the American idea of falling in love and choosing your own spouse, it’s clear that an arranged marriage does have some appeal.  Of course it’s only when Ms. Rao’s characters face their past, are honest about what they truly feel and make a conscious decision to give their future a chance that their arranged marriage has the greatest chance for success.

Will Ruhi learn to embrace life in the U.S. and capture her husband’s heart?  Will Shaan realize the happiness he’s looking for can be found when he gives his heart to his new wife?  You’ll have to read An Incurable Insanity to find out.  I loved it and can’t wait to read what Ms. Rao writes next.  

My Rating:  5 out of 5 Crowns

FTC Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

1 comment:

  1. Could have sworn I posted yesterday. . . This looks really good. I love all things about India so I have already pre-oredered this one.