The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi

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The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi

Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This novel is about meshing two very different cultures and of how the families of each cope with the many changes involved. Doshi's poetic voice gives the whole story a strong element of charm.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: May 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing plc
ISBN: 978-0747590927

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Essentially this is a love story between two people - Babo from Madras and Sian from small-town Wales. You could argue that two more disparate cultures would be hard to imagine. Factor in that the novel opens in the heady, free love days of the 1960s and a very entertaining story starts to unfold.

Salman Rushdie comments on the back cover of this novel and I must admit to not being a fan of his. I find him generally too wordy and unnecessarily flowery in his prose. I wondered if Doshi would be similar. I found her style to be true to her culture but utterly charming as well. The reader is introduced to the parents and family of recently-graduated Babo. We get a delicious insight into their thinking and of their daily lives. There are some truly delightful descriptions which will make you smile.

There's a passing similarity with the gentle style of Alexander McCall Smith here. Babo is full of trepidation. Why? He's travelling all the way to London to continue his studies. He's an earnest young man. His introduction to England and to London specifically is a lovely piece of writing. In particular, Doshi gives us some lovely lines when describing Babo trying to get to grips with the whole 'London' situation - the bland food, the cold weather etc. You could say it's a bit stereotypical, which it is. But Doshi puts a lovely slant on it which is refreshing. Babo is falling over himself to please everyone. He soon settles into a routine and he also stumbles upon the love of his life. Enter Sian Jones. Babo's life is turned upside down.

We discover that as firstborn, Babo is the apple of his parents' eye. He duly informs them of his romantic plans. It doesn't go down well at all. This is when the whole cultural thing kicks in, big time. Where will they marry? Where will they live? What will their children look like?

The novel gives plenty of opportunity to illustrate the vast cultural differences between the two countries. Personally I found it refreshing that Doshi did not choose the usual London girlfriend/boyfriend scenario. By choosing Wales it gives the opportunity to describe the small-town feel. So when finally Sian travels to India she is not prepared for the abject poverty she sees. She'd imagined tree-lined avenues and mint-green houses. Lizards and peacocks. She certainly hadn't bargained for the filth, the beggars, the stray animals.

When Sian and Babo marry Doshi gives us a thought-provoking line in A wedding of miniscule size but momentous proportions. And once again Doshi gives the reader an insight into Indian domestic life and culture. Illuminating. However, I really felt Sian's frustration due to lack of privacy. The poor girl's gone from calm and order in small-town Wales to the chaos and noise of India. She craves some peace and quiet. But does she get it?

The latter part of the book deals with the various generations of the Patel-Joneses and we stop at important social, economic and political moments, both in the UK and India. All of the chapter headings are relevant, quirky and witty in equal measure. This is a charming novel told with a refreshing voice. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then try The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan.

Buy The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi at Amazon.com.


Booklists.jpg The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi is in the Orange Prize 2011.

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