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on 28 December 2012
As par a very good book and my wife loves the author and will buy anything she writes in the future
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on 17 July 2013
Very well paced.
Really enjoyed reading this book.
Very realistic characters, places and situations throughout.
Look forward to more books,
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on 13 December 2012
Too heavy to handle. Therew was no 'hook' at the beginning so I didn't even try to be interested.Thanks. Jean.
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on 8 February 2012
"Remember, there are only two things that you can't hide - ishq and mushq: love and smell."

Karam travels to India at the time of the Partition, where he's struck down with typhoid. As he convalesces he meets the beautiful and headstrong Sarna, who he then marries and takes back to Uganda as his bride. There, living in his parents' home, they have children; as things become difficult for Asians, Karan decides to move his young family to England. So Sarna, with her precious box of spices and her limited understanding of English, begins a new life in a cramped old house in Clapham Common.

This is a fascinating story, a family epic covering generations of an Indian family at a time of great social and cultural change. It is webbed with deceit: secrets hidden and sometimes guessed at, but always denied. The characters - Karam & Sarna, their family and friends, their lodger Oskar - are fantastic, each one multi-layered and flawed. They anger you, disappoint you, make you laugh, make you cry. The story is sad, and happy, beautiful and moving, and all the time your senses are filled with the fabulous aromas of Sarna's obsessive cooking.

Ishq and mushq indeed.
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on 23 April 2007
The cover (as someone else mentioned) caught my eye with this one. I have an interest in Indian novels and consequently devoured this one. Very easy reading, although after the first two chapters I was unsure about it. This is normally the point where I decide to continue or not and I'm pleased I did.

The characters are so well written and I loved how the plot became more complex as time went on. Simply, it is the story of one family, lies and deceit and how truth has a way of coming out (to a certain extent). More deeply, it is an analysis of society; how we try to be things we aren't and always try to make things better than the generation before us yet somehow making similar mistakes!

Politics, culture and history is weaved into this debut novel. You feel very involved with the characters; sometimes liking them and other times despising them. I always found reasons to feel sorry for Sarna the 'tormented' mother even when she was making life difficult for her family with her ways of dealing with things.

You appreciate the suffering Karam (Sarna's husband) went through in the early days of their relationship. Throughout the novel their struggle and dedication is evident and even though their's was not always a marriage filled with love it was clear they had a deepened sense of responsibilty and respect for their culture and each other. Although which one was the predominant feeling I couldn't say.

The style is very easy to read, you feel like you are being told a story and it was this that kept me going when I feel a little bored (which happened only a few times throughout the novel) because, as with real life, there is not always fast-paced action.

As more becomes revealed you become more involved with the characters, which is when I became hooked and in the end couldn't put it down. A very complete novel with all endings tied up neatly but still enough to allow you to wonder beyond the confines of the novel; what may have happened to the family.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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on 17 February 2011
Wow!! A delicious book..It's a fantastic story as someone above described of trying to be something you're not and how secrets/lies have a tendency of coming out in the end. It also explores how different forms of Ishq (love) is expressed in life and how difficult it can sometimes be to hide and show love.
The book is very funny at times but has boring sections..I felt the author jumps around with events and characters, not really going into deep detail (with exception of the protagonist Sarna). But in the last part, Priya Basil brings it all together and in fact the details are not important but actually the essence of love, identity, family, society, religion and relationship is brought to the surface. The story shows that we should not discriminate our elders and think they are "old fashioned", because what they say and do does in fact have a great impact on the future..and at the same time they should not dismiss the younger generation.

Sometimes I hated Sarna, sometimes I felt so sorry for her. Sometimes her husband made me angry but most of the time I felt for him and didn't understand why he put up with his wife's antics. I also felt compassion for the children as they were punished for their parent's lack of communication.

Lovely book that will provoke all kinds of feelings within the reader :-)
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on 18 August 2012
I didn't want this book to end. A kaleidoscope of colourful strands that wove around and within each other to create a wonderful pattern. A question of what if and how things may have been different if the unsaid were said,
A definite must read.
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on 21 April 2007
This is an incredibly assured and ambitious first novel, which was recommended to me by a friend. It begins amidst the turmoil of India's partition. One of the main characters, Karam, is caught up in the troubles and ends up in a refugee camp where he succumbs to Typhoid, or `Taffoid' as his wife describes it, and falls unconscious. Saved by a heroic act of kindness, Karam regrets that he `missed' the drama of the historical moment. This sparks his lifelong search for an alternative history which is described through various hilarious trips around the world where he always, inevitably, `misses' the event he's trying to participate in. His wife, Sarna, is another strongly portrayed character. Melodramatic, manipulative and mad about cooking, she is the driving force behind the story. Her infuriating yet heart-breaking inability to face up to the past is very well described, although the depths to which stoops are sometimes rather shocking.

The book is full of colourful and memorable lesser characters, like Mina Masi the mid-wife who has formula guaranteed to produce boy babies (I'd love to know if it actually works!) and Chatta Choda, the Sikh who cuts off his hair in a wild scene at a wedding party. I especially liked Oskar who is a quiet, thoughtful voice amidst all the drama and humour. His reflections on storytelling itself give the book an interesting philosophical dimension.

Overall, I thought this was a great family story interestingly linked to different political events that give it a wide appeal and relevance.
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on 9 December 2007
This book is simply excellent! I would recommend it to anyone, particularly to any first and second generation Sikh, who is interested in a great story with solid characters. The writing is pure class (I loved her use of metaphor!) and the plot keeps you guessing. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry and it will definitely make you sigh in exasperation, and roll your eyes a few times! At times, I felt like I was reading about my own family history. Scary feeling, but well worth the pennies.
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on 28 February 2007
I bought this book because I loved the cover, and it sounded interesting. I have just finished it, and absolutely loved it. It is very warm, funny, beautiful and moving - and extremely easy to read. Not in a beach-read kind of way, just the writer has a very accessible and fluid style. The characters are great - and the worlds are very vividly imagined. Some of the characters - the mother especially - are at times hilarious, and you really care about what happens to them. Thoroughly recommend it as a very intelligent, passionate, pleasurable read.
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