Customer Reviews


35 Reviews
5 star:
 (12)
4 star:
 (11)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (8)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but sometimes the writer intrudes upon the story
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...
Published on 22 Jan 2009 by Lark Spring

versus
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very light charming read
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...
Published on 2 Nov 2008 by emma who reads a lot


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

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 (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but sometimes the writer intrudes upon the story, 22 Jan 2009
This review is from: The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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
By 
This review is from: The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series (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. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency: a complete novice sets up an unusual business in a faraway place and helps solves issues big and small for the local community. However, the thread of gentle humour which runs throughout McCall Smith's novels highlighting intriguing aspects of the national psyche and which leaves readers with a wonderful, life-affirming feeling was sadly lacking here. It meant that I finished the novel not caring in the least what happened to the characters. What a shame!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kay, 2 Jan 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series (Paperback)
I found this book full of promise but let down by unimaginative writing - lacking in wit or interesting characters -too boring to get beyond page 100................
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another world, 23 Nov 2010
By 
LindyLouMac (Wales and Italy) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series (Paperback)
I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this novel. It was on my to read list as I had heard that Farahad Zama was a new author to watch with this being his debut novel. For some reason I expected it to be more literary than the gentle read it turned out to be. I do not use the word `gentle' in a derogatory manner but that is how the story comes across. A modern day social commentary about family relationships in India told through the everyday occurrences at Mr Ali's `Marriage Bureau For Rich People' At times it is very funny and at others tender and touching.
Mr Ali is retired but in search of something to keep him occupied hence the opening of a bureau for setting up arranged marriages. The matchmaking works and his days are soon full, offering advice to people seeking their life partners. Besides the various tales of his clients we also learn about the life of Mr and Mrs Ali's son who causes them great distress as he is involved in social protests and gets himself arrested. The other protagonist is Aruna, Mr Ali's assistant, a young girl whose circumstances mean she is unable to afford to marry!
Ok the story is nothing stunning and fairly predictable but I was drawn in by the interesting details about not only the various characters but about Indian life in general and how things are changing there. It was also fascinating for me to learn about both Muslim and Hindu marriages and how they are arranged with love marriages discouraged.
An opportunity to learn about a different culture and way of life, which is something I enjoy in a novel, being transported to another world.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow and predictable, 30 Dec 2008
I am sure the publishers felt that they had another No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency on their hands. The cover has the same garish faux naif style of illustration as the Alexander McCall Smith series and the book is about amiable people in a colourful, hot country setting up their own business without any previous experience and, after a slow start, clients come in with a range of personal problems and dilemmas. There the comparison ends - because the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series has far more in the way of plot.

At first I kept thinking: "Oh, that person is going to end up with him or her." But we just seemed to get a series of people listing their personal preferences with regards to marriage and it soon became dull. The one pairing which is central to the book was very predictable and there is some tying up of plot loose ends at the wedding reception, which struck me as terribly contrived.

The writing style is very poor: "Mr. Ali looked at the picture of their son with a young couple and a three year old boy hanging by a wire off a nail." This upset me until I realised that it was the picture that was hanging from the wire, not the three year old boy.

I have been generous in awarding the book two stars.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A good idea with some sparks but generally poorly written, 23 Nov 2008
This review is from: The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, 31 Oct 2008
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series (Paperback)
The book's title sums it up well. There's no great dramatic drive to Farahad Zama's novel, it's simply about the fortunes and misfortunes of the staff and clients of Mr Ali's Marriage Bureau, set up by the old man in his retirement to do his best to find the ideal matches for his clients. Within that however there is a wealth of riches in the colourful characterisation and descriptions of tradition and customs, all delivered in lovely, clear prose.

The conflict in the novel comes from its characters attempt to preserve the spirit and meaning of tradition, particularly in the area of marriage, relationships and families, while at the same time finding a way to adapt to the necessary realities and sometimes the injustice of the modern world, the characters often "torn between two powerful forces neither of which would give way". Although he may not be the most diplomatic of people and often speak out of turn, Mr Ali's faith in his agency shows that he believes there is a way that both can be reconciled.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People might then be a little too mild and genteel for some readers and is rather conservative and traditional in its style, but most readers should identify with the simple premise of the human stories, their hopes for happiness and success and the everyday troubles and obstacles that can sometimes prevent them from achieving that aim, despite the best of intentions and noblest of actions.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read, 26 Oct 2008
By 
T. Laurin (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series (Paperback)
A fun but at times heart-breaking character drama, this book provides an interesting perspective into how India's rich cultural fabric is adapting to a changing world. The book is written from the point of view of the people actually learning where they fit in the new world, and by the second half I found the book hard to put down as I was drawn into their lives, hopes and fears.

A very accessible look at the class structure of India, I definitely enjoyed reading The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, and am looking forward to any follow-up books from Farahad Zama.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Full of Eastern promise but sadly lacking, 4 Jan 2009
By 
This review is from: The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series (Paperback)
Following a recent trip to India, this sounded like an ideal Christmas present. Regrettably, it wasn't one of my better reads. Whilst I enjoyed the setting and the descriptions of Indian marriage customs, there was no real sense of characterisation and the plot was very thin. Whilst accepting that this is a debut novel, I don't feel that it was a very well written one. Every chapter seemed to start 'The next day' or 'The next afternoon,' and I got to the end feeling very short-changed. This was a New Writers Book of the Month and I have to ask myself why - it really didn't do it for me, I'm afraid
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series
The Marriage Bureau For Rich People: Number 1 in series by Farahad Zama (Paperback - 2 Oct 2008)
8.44
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews