Every woman has a secret life…
When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals.
Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty – these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.
East meets west and tradition clashes with modernity in a thought-provoking cross-cultural novel that might make you look again at the women in your life…
I had seen the book cover of this beauty filling my twitter feed and was first attracted to read it because of the cover and the title, which immediately screamed: THIS IS A BOOK YOU WANT TO READ AIYSHA!
I’m very grateful for HarperCollins who allowed me to review this title.
Set in Southall the book explores the lives and stories of Sikh immigrant Punjabi widows through a writing class that sparks their creativity. Balli effortlessly creates a protagonist stuck in the middle of two cultures: Punjabi and British. I immediately clicked with Nikki as I too find myself in a similar position and therefore found it very easy to relate to her struggles and desires for both independence and acceptance in both worlds.
Balli breaks the boundary between eroticism and Punjabi widows so beautifully by bringing these two ideas to the forefront and equally showing us that even older women have desires for love and sexual fulfilment. And to read these women’s stories is also hilarious!
Reading this book was effortless, the chapters explore the main plot concerning the writing class for the widows, but this then also beautiful explores the lives of some of the women in the community, especially that of Kulvinder and her past. Alongside this, we also have the narrative of Nikki’s personal life between herself and her family and her relationship with Jason. These subplots merge seamlessly together and provide a gripping read. I believe we need more books like this, focusing on the asian community in order to crush taboos and bring life experiences and perspectives of immigrant asian women to the forefront.
A brilliant read and a fantastic cover. I’ve already recommended to friends and family.
Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows was published by HarperCollins in March 2017.