A Blonde Bengali Wife Paperback – 15 Oct 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
I loved the book for its fast pace, the cultural shocks relating to hygiene in particular, and the humour with which Anne and Christine perceived their surroundings. I thought Australian humour and Irish humour created an excellent combination.
I was fooled by the title but will leave readers to sort that one out.
The book was a memoir that embraced satire, realism and tongue in cheek humour. The Bangladesh English turn of phrase reminded me of Indian English; the lowest class of poverty was similar to that in India.
Ann writes "The fascination of the country, the colour and vibrancy, the imagination and enthusiasm is in the personality of the people as they wander through the daily grind against a background of untouched landscape." She has it all spot on. Ann's ability to paint the culture in words is masterful.
The volunteer programme seems to be of secondary importance in my opinion, though obviously it is the reason for the two women being in Bangladesh. It also was their key to opening doors to all walks of society.
Some gems that stayed with me were:
ramming into the vehicle in front was an approved stopping measure;
a youngster erected a sign charging admission for the locals to "look" at Ann;
syringes do not contain anaesthetic but adrenaline to reduce bleeding
The latter part of the book involves a trip to Cox's Bazaar, the longest beach in Bangladesh. Christine has returned home to Australia but Ann continues to travel with her "husband".
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone who enjoys foreign cultures.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I started this book I had in my mind that it would be mainly about the charity involved & a basic travel guide. I couldn't have been further off the mark. This is a book written from the heart with humour, compassion, frustration, understanding & a deeply obvious love of the people & country.
I felt as though I was privy to Anne's diary .. the descriptive writing is magnificent, the sights, sounds, aromas all come to life. I'm full of admiration at some of the situations she found herself in & dealt with impeccably .. the fabulous characters had me in stitches on occasion, a whole chapter dedicated to 'women's' dilemmas was sensitively dealt with. We as readers get a feel for the poverty of Bangladesh but also the extreme kindness of folk. I have to say I'm not sure I could eat so much rice! The only slightly negative comment is purely a personal one as a vegetarian it's not easy to read towards the end but this in no way detracts from the book & is ultimately explaining the culture. If you want to travel to a far away place from the comfort of your own home then this is the ideal book. I have gained a lot of insight from this. Anne's kindness & involvement continues all money earned from A Blonde Bengali Wife goes direct to the charity, Bhola's Children. I heartily recommend reading it & happily award 5 stars.
My first teaching post, in 1983, was in south London, in a primary school where 70% of the pupils spoke Bengali as a first language, their families having only very recently arrived in the UK. Thirty years on, the Bengali heritage families I teach in the suburbs are far more established and in some cases, sadly, no longer speak much Bengali.
We’re so used to footage of Bangladeshi floods and devastation, poverty and squalor, that we forget there is a varied landscape, a rich culture, and extremes of income, health, education and housing just as in any country. Such misfortune, we think, must be matched by hunger and must lead to low self confidence and misery. We often wrongly assume that most women have little voice or education, and forget there has been a female Prime Minister whose second term began in 2009.
Anne Hamilton knocks such ideas for six. She visited Bangladesh in 2002 on a cultural reconnaissance programme, and got possibly more than she bargained for. It’s all recorded in witty, self deprecating and illuminating detail (apart from specific factual information about tourist sites: as she says, you can go to a guide book for that). Anne is more interested in the people she meets, and her interest is reciprocated, so we see Bangladesh through her eyes, and ourselves through those of the Bengalis. She writes from diary notes in the present tense, giving immediacy to her prose that keeps it alive. Sometimes she is a little verbose where fewer words would do, but she’s not writing about a minimalist country – sights, sounds, people, smells, and sensations all crowd around her with no respite, and her dense and colourful style reflects that.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An engaging read with an interesting title. Reading about Bangladesh reminded me of my year in Delhi, India, and brought back memories of the city and its people. Read morePublished 18 days ago by JILL
Let me start off by saying that this is not the usual type of book I would have read. So, as you can imagine I was a bit dubious about reviewing it. Read morePublished 5 months ago by JB Johnston
From the opening page of this book where you join Anne in the arrivals hall, you are taken on an amazing journey. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jo Lambert
Not having read the blurb for this book, I was expecting a novel. Instead I got a wonderfully humorous account of Anne's visit to Bangladesh. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Julie Ryan
I bought this book for the title and am glad to say it was a great buy. I learned a lot about Bangladesh but it was also a really good story that made me laugh out loud. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Margaret
Very interesting book by Irish visitor to Bangladesh. Shows day to day experiences of a volunteer worker who loved Bangladesh.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book appealed to me as I am interested in Bangladesh. Based on the author’s experiences during a three-month stay as part of a voluntary cultural exchange programme, A Blonde... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Vicky Newham
Well worthy of a Nobel Prize. Anne must be a wonderful person to know - she certainly cheered me up.Published 8 months ago by Mr. S. Randle