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The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series [Paperback]

Farahad Zama
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Oct 2008 Marriage Bureau For Rich People (Book 1)
What does somebody with a wealth of common sense do if retirement palls? Why, open a marriage bureau, of course. And soon Mr Ali, from beautiful Vizag in South India, sees his new business flourish as the indomitable Mrs Ali and able assistant Aruna look on with careful eyes. But although many clients go away happy, problems lurk behind the scenes as Aruna nurses a heart-rending secret; while Mr Ali cannot see that he rarely follows the sage advice he so freely dishes out to others. And when love comes calling for Aruna, an impossible dilemma looms... A colourful coastal town and contemporary marriage bureau prove a perfect backdrop for a splendid array of characters making sense of all sorts of pride and prejudice - and the ways in which true love won't quite let go - in this witty and big-hearted debut novel.

Frequently Bought Together

The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series + The Many Conditions Of Love: Number 2 in series (Marriage Bureau For Rich People) + The Wedding Wallah: Number 3 in series (Marriage Bureau For Rich People)
Price For All Three: £23.97

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; First Thus edition (2 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349121370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349121376
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 296,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A writer of charming and breezy prose, Zama pays homage to Jane Austen in a contemporary love story firmly grounded in classic wrangles over family, property and clas s' Emma Hagestadt, INDEPENDENT ('A witty, affectionate picture of modern India')

Kate Saunders, THE TIMES (** 'If you're in need of something to chase away the encroaching winter gloom, look no further than this joyous debut')

Melissa Katsoulis, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (** 'A courteous, light read')

Catherine Taylor, GUARDIAN (** 'Charming, warm-hearted and funny, a delightful debut . . . a read treat')

Review

'Charming, warm-hearted and funny, a delightful debut... a read treat'


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very light charming read 2 Nov 2008
By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is very charming. Set in modern day India, the Muslim Mr Ali starts up a marriage bureau from home, matching appropriate couples for arranged marriages. Farahad Zama brings in lots of issues from modern day India, with a very light touch: people who cannot afford basic health care; problems with pensions; the ill-treatment of wives and widows - all these serious issues are touched on, without the novel being at all heavy. Zama also explains a lot about marriage tradition, including lots of interesting details about the jewellry the wife must have, the flowers and fruits, the ceremony itself.

The characters are also really charming - I LOVE Aruna in particular, Mr Ali's assistant: but Mr and Mrs Ali and their wayward son are also lovely. You look forward to picking the book up at the end of a hard day and finding out a little bit more about them.

The only thing I didn't like about this book is that I felt the style was too simple, and all the characters seemed to have quite similar ways of talking. I think that probably it's because it's a first book and Farahad Zama hasn't quite developed a strong style yet(?). I couldn't help thinking all the way through that probably his next book would be much better written. So I would definitely be tempted to read another book by this author, despite that one reservation.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed this story about a marriage bureau in India, although what the bureau does doesn't seem very different from what I understand happens there anyway, with it being quite normal for families to advertise in the newspaper columns for matches for their sons or daughters. It is the characters in the story who make it, as in all good stories.

My only reservation about the book is the way the writer sometimes intrudes by coming in with an explanation of how something happens in Indian culture. I love reading Indian novels and usually they are a bit more discreet, with the reader having to absorb the culture rather than having it handed to them together with an instruction manual. An example of what I mean -

'"What is this, madam? I've never had this drink before,' asked Aruna. [I also think the 'asked' is out of place here]

'This is rooh afza. I suppose you can call it rose syrup. It is an old cooling rinkused by Muslims. Most young people don't know about it now - they all drink Coke or Pepsi," said Mrs Ali.'

The writing is also sometimes a little stilted, with rather annoying repetitions of names, as in the final paragraph of the novel: 'Mrs Ali looked at him in disbelief for a second. Then tears slowly rolled down Mrs Ali's cheeks . . .' I think 'her' would definitely have flowed better here, but perhaps it is the quirk of an Indian writer.

But the main romantic story of Aruna and Ram, which is threaded through the novel with the story of Mr and Mrs Ali's worries about their son's involvement with a protest group, is interesting and well done, although I felt that Ram's wealthy father was rather too quickly convinced by Mr Ali of the rightness of Ram's choice of Aruna, a poor girl, as his wife.

This isn't a novel I would keep to read again, but it is one I would recommend to others as a single read that is pleasant and interesting and is light enough to take their minds off the minor concerns of their day.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promising idea but it needed more editing 20 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback
The premise of this novel is an interesting one: an older man (Mr Ali), tiring of retirement, decides to set up a marriage bureau, arranging marriages for members of the local community. This provides the author with a vehicle to shine a light on the many religions, which on the whole co-exist harmoniously in India, and also their customs and traditions relating to marriage.

Unfortunately although the premise was interesting, the actual writing did let the novel down. It's important to point out that this is the author's first novel and so I feel it's not altogether his fault. This is surely something which a good agent and/or editor should have helped correct before it went to print.

The story took quite a while to gain any sort of momentum, not helped by the author simply introducing too many clients. As a reader I kept trying to remember the details of each person thinking that they would be significant in the story only for them to disappear for much of the novel.

Additionally, I got tired of the two main characters simply being referred to as Mr and Mrs Ali and the awkward dialogue did little to bring them alive. I wasn't at all convinced by their relationship or the 'tiffs' of a couple who supposedly have spent most of their lives together. Their son and his principled struggle in the face of India's growing globalisation was an interesting subplot but it was all too little, too late by then. I kept going hoping that the novel would redeem itself but the final happy-ever-after chapter was predictable and clumsy.

Other reviewers have compared this novel with the books of Alexander McCall Smith, and I have to admit I had hoped for something similar. Clearly, similarities can be drawn between this novel and the No.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book starts out well enough with its premise of setting up a marriage bureau in a Southern Indian town, and has a charming small-town feel to it. However, the plot meanders for a while before the story of Aruna, the bureau's assistant takes hold and commands attention. The incessant form filling at the bureau becomes repetitive and dull, and the mundane (often clunky) dialogue of Mr and Mrs Ali detract from what could be an interesting insight into a whole community of people passing through the bureau. Unfortunately, for the most part the characters are cardboard cutouts who all sound the same. The dialogue is really quite poor and in the latter part of the book when Aruna receives a proposal of marriage from the doctor Ramanujan it begins to resemble the dialogue of a B-grade bollywood movie in translation.

The book is billed as a snapshot of India in transition, where caste and religion do not matter quite as much as they once did, and people seek a match by going outside family and village connections to a marriage bureau. However this is a simplistic view of a changing country, as now online marriage "bureaux" are all the rage, and caste issues are more complex and hidden than portrayed here. In the hands of a more proficient writer such subtleties would have come out more, but the writing is simply not able to do justice to the complex themes and dilemmas hinted at in the book. We are left at the end with the tantalising feeling that the book is not really getting to the nub of things. The book read as if it is writen for a teenage audience, with only a few gems of good writing shining through here and there. It is a shame, because the idea of portraying society through its marriage customs is an excellent one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - Takes you away from real life
Now the author who I worked with and also buys these for my friend who just loves these books and me too.
Published 2 months ago by Melanie Reilly
4.0 out of 5 stars Relaxing but thought provoking
This is a very readable book, yet can give the reader a lot to think about. Set in Southern India, it is a delightful story revolving round a retired gentleman who has decided to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Discerning Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful love story with cultural insight
This was lovely and comforting

An easy relaxing read and written in such a way that strong and lasting relationships are built with main characters

A good buy... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ms. Hannah L. Beaumont
2.0 out of 5 stars Not great.
It's the book version of a Bollywood film. Rich guy and poor girl.
Although it is an eye opener regards the way women are treated as second class citizens in India.
P.S. Read more
Published 9 months ago by AL E
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely tale of matchmaking, true love and modern India
Hyder Ali, a retired clerk, is driving his patient wife crazy with his post-retirement boredom. They are a Muslim couple living in Visakhapatnam (Vizag), a coastal city in Andhra... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Bundtlust
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Club Special
because it was an enjoyable read,and we read this book at my w i book club would like to read seqelB
Published 10 months ago by shirley saunders
3.0 out of 5 stars A good publication that hit the print a review or two too early .
A modest effort has been made to capture the simple and small boundaries in which the population live in mini metros in India.
Published 17 months ago by Somerset Twain
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
I thoroughly enjoyed this book especially as I lived in South India as a child, I found the simple explanations about foods and the caste system very informative and I loved all... Read more
Published 22 months ago by dupressa
4.0 out of 5 stars Simplistic but nice
Charming, light and entertaining are three suitable words that describe this book. It is a curl-up-on-the-sofa kind of read; nothing challenging and nothing stimulating. Read more
Published on 9 Aug 2011 by SJSmith
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful picture of traditional India
Mr and Mrs Ali, and their assistant Aruna, run a marriage bureau that seems gloriously simple compared to the mess of muddle of the 'love marriages' we choose to undergo in the... Read more
Published on 3 Jan 2011 by Josa Young
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