Monday, July 9, 2012

Miss New India

Miss New India, by Bharati Mukherjee

I picked this up at the library, intrigued by the premise and undeterred by the lukewarm (and sometimes outright negative) reviews on Goodreads. A novel about Bangalore, call centers, and the new Indian woman? Sure--sounds promising. I've read other Mukherjee novels and liked them, so I thought this was worth a try.

Sadly, this was not a winner. The main character, Anjali, is not likable and she's completely shallow...which I could live with, perhaps, if I cared anything about what happened to these characters. Once she made it to Bangalore, I lost track of some of the characters--they just were not drawn vividly enough--and then when the Bagehot House fell, I began skimming.

Why were all these people helping her? Anjali was ungrateful, not particularly talented, and lackadaisical, but everything seemed to go her way in the end, which seemed too good to be true.

Minnie, Anjali's obnoxiously snobby landlady, reminded me of a woman who ran a hostel in Jaipur, India. I believe she was Anglo-Indian as well. I remember that she "kindly" invited us to stay to dinner. The next morning when we were ready to leave, she presented us with an exorbitant bill for that dinner!

This book could have been so much better. I'm fascinated with the idea of the new India, but this was an uneven, shoddy attempt for a well-known and accomplished author. Disappointing.

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