Excess Baggage

Time for a book review!!!

Now I’m not sure about all of you, but one of my favourite moments while travelling is that 30 minutes or so after you pass security when you are free to browse the stores near your gate. More specifically, the store with the table of books out front calling my name! It’s a really a horrible habit of mine to be honest. Even when I already have a book or two in my carry-on luggage, I can’t seem to help myself! Anyways the point is, the following book ¬†was my latest unnecessary purchase.

Now being ethnic myself, I am a huge fan of ethnic literary fiction. Shobhhan Bantwal’s novel, “The Full Moon Bride” is a very common piece that addresses the struggle of dual identity and finding a balance between cultures. The novel’s heroine, Soorya Giri, is a 30 year old, single, Indian-American woman that lives a cushy, and sheltered life with her parents in a wealthy suburban neighbour-hood of New Jersey. ¬†Being the daughter of a respected plastic surgeon, Soorya’s life is filled with the best schools and opportunities that led to her job as a successful environmental lawyer at a top law firm in Manhattan. She had it all, except of course the primary requirement of any respectable South Asian woman past the age of 25; a husband. Soorya’s life suddenly becomes interesting when she becomes the pursuit of not just one, but two very different men. In her journey of romance, Soorya not only discovers love, but also the value of knowing who you are and understanding what that means.

I know this story sounds predictable, but it’s actually got some refreshing moments in here. Now I will admit that I did not love this book, but it was interesting enough to keep me reading. I guess my main issue was the author’s delivery of a cultural experience. I do understand that the author is writing for a North American audience, and is essentially trying to teach someone about a culture that is foreign to them. However, in doing so, Bantwal’s voice no longer sounds authentic. It becomes too textbook, to the point that anyone who simply knows a few facts about a culture could create Soorya’s character. As a reader, I like when an ethnic author doesn’t spell out everything for me in such an elementary manner, but rather the natural flow of their culture and their experience is illuminated in their writing and I am able to capture all the important details simply through their delivery, and not necessarily through their explanations.

Nevertheless, I did relate to Soorya’s character from a female prespective, and you can’t go wrong with a few cheesy feel good moments. All in all, it was a nice mellow read.

The age of the corsets…

Well the tedious exam is over, and onto the wonderful world of Victorian periodicals! I must say, of all the things I have ever read, 18th century literature takes me the longest to get through any of the texts I have encountered. Those Victorians really enjoyed making reading a frustrating task. Or I wonder if it has to do with maintaining the claim of Aristocratic intellectual superiority…. Well I have spent countless hours over the past few months sifting through The Wellesley Index, a database of Victorian periodicals, and have narrowed my research down to understanding the marriage potential of an educated woman vs. a non-educated woman. I am applying the term ‘educated woman’ to a woman that has studied beyond her domestic sphere, and the standard ‘girl’s education’. The fascinating thing I have discovered however, is the power of the press. Publications during the late 1800s actively associate an educated woman with a negligent wife and mother. But my main concern is, how much did women contribute to this view? Was it really all men pushing this idea, or did the majority of women also withhold the capability of their own sex and surrender to the domestic spheres of Victorian society?