The Naani Diaries by Riva Razdan
Review,  Contemporary,  Women Fiction

The Naani Diaries by Riva Razdan – fiction about Indian marriage and culture

The Naani Diaries is is enjoyable contemporary women’s fiction about Indian marriage and culture with many other interesting topics to discuss.

fiction about Indian marriage and culture

The Naani Diaries by Riva Razdan

Publication Date : January 10, 2023

Publisher : HarperCollins India

Read Date : February 22, 2023

Genre : Contemporary, women’s fiction

Pages : 564

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclaimer – : I received this book as part of Blogchatter Book Review Program, in exchange for an honest review.
This post contains affiliate links.

Synopsis

When overachieving New Yorker Radhika Anand is dumped by Siddhant, her boyfriend of two years, she is devastated. With the threat of loneliness looming large, she turns to the only woman she can expect empathy from-her grandmother: her beloved Naani, whose own legendary love story in the 1960s has been recorded in an old diary.

Radhika abruptly decides to relocate to Bombay-to the comfort of her Naani’s home and the veritable circus of the Arranged Marriage market. But if Radhika is serious about finding a suitable match, she must pay no attention to Zain Rajan, the sexy ‘bad boy’ next door.

A big-hearted novel about love and family, this book has it all: from witty banter and clever observations to a Big Fat Indian Wedding.

Review

fiction about Indian marriage and culture

How far would you go to get married and what are you willing to give up for having life long partner in your life? Radhika in The Naani Diaries is willing to give up a lot to have a romance and an Indian wedding before she turns 30.

+ I liked the plot, concept, and writing here. Radhika is an independent, confident, and hard-working head consultant at a global consulting company, all she lacked is marriage and family she could come home to. Ever since Radhika found her naani’s (maternal grandmother) diaries she wanted romance and happy married life like theirs. But when she sees no proposal coming from her boyfriend, she takes matters in her hands only to be dumped, rejected, and heartbroken. She couldn’t bear to be single anymore so gathering her shattered spirit she decides to have old fashioned romance and so she arrives at her naani’s house in Mumbai in hope her Naani can help with arranged marriage before she turns 30. And so begins all the drama of marriage material husband hunt that takes us to the elite circle of Delhi and family revelations (only for Radhika, for us readers it is easy to see the truth).

– While I enjoyed the story, I feel the revelation came too late as it didn’t surprise me at that point. Pace was average, it picked up speed a little in the second half but that first second half just made me frustrated. I’ll discuss that later.

+ Writing is refreshing and gripping. It is written mainly from Radhika’s perspective but we see almost all characters’ POV in parts. I enjoy reading diary in the first half of the story and I also loved the format of the texts and emails along with diary.

+ I absolutely loved the main theme of the feminist view on arranged Indian marriage or marriage in general and it aligns with my views. I absolutely agree with many things represented here- Indian weddings, Indian culture, and Indian mindset, women in a patriarchal regressive society and in male dominating the corporate world, perceptions, and rituals. The author gave this book lots of Indian touches. Not just that but there are layers of alcohol abuse, marital abuse, emotional manipulation, abandonment issue, and unhealthy lifestyles. This book gives lots of things to discuss.

+ I enjoyed family dynamics. All Khurana ladies (I refuse to call any Anand family women ‘Anand’, as none of them were like Jairaj Anand, Radhika’s grandfather) are very similar in nature and it all came from Gayatri, Radhika’s naani. Not just Radhika but they all developed along with her, overcoming the past, closing the gap the past created, learned to move on from what happened in their lives, and embracing the present and love.

+ Gayatri Khurana, aka Mrs Anand, is a widow and runs Grace Boutique on the day of her husband, Jairaj’s death. She is a lovely, no-nonsense person with lots of ethics and standard. I loved and admired her as soon as she was introduced and it kept growing as I read more about her. It was amazing to see the difference between young Gayatri in her diaries and Gayatri in present life after 10 years of her husband’s death. Her confidence and courage is the same but she lost a lot in between, her self-respect, her freedom, her spirit that she only regained through Grace. Her story is touching but we don’t get it fully until the climax which didn’t elaborate horrors of her marriage however, we get to know how her marriage was in pieces through Mangala, her daughter’s (and Radhika’s mother) views, conversations, and accusations, which wasn’t detailed but was enough fore readers to picture the horrors. It was sad to see how much her husband ruined nit just her life but her relationship with Mangala. I loved how in the end, her husband and his mistreatment stopped affecting her.

+ I enjoyed knowing Mangala as well. Even with all Radhika’s rants and whining about her, I admired her ambitious streak which was same as Gayatri and Radhika inherited it. I loved how she raised Radhika alone to be successful and independent in life. Not everyone would agree with her views on love and marriage and feminism but I like them. I loved how she too came around and accepted love in the end.

+ Zain and Birdy were sweethearts. They were the only males I liked in this book and also Steve. Zain wasn’t perfect, he was playboy no string-attached guy who didn’t believe in marriage and commitments and he had his reasons, had lots of baggage. His story was sad and I really loved Birdy for what he did for him.

My main issue was with Radhika. I didn’t like her and didn’t warm to her for almost whole book. There were parts where I admired her. She is amazing in her career. She is smart and brilliant who didn’t cower from challenges and climbed the corporate ladder better than any men in her company. I loved her when she started supporting female colleagues in the Indian office and how she faced patriarchal boss and other men in the office. But as Gayatri said, I couldn’t believe how this same woman can be so stupid and naive. Her desperation to have romance and a permanent relationship was too much to the point that she made sex stats so she can be better and her ex propose for marriage! (Who does that!)

She was literally blind by the idea of romance which was based on Gayatri’s diaries and she never thought to ask her about it, not even when Gayatri found out she has her diary. She never thought to ask how was her marriage. She didn’t appreciate her mother. Not in the first half at least. She kept whining about how deprived of love and companionship in life and let it affect her self-esteem rather than looking at all positive things and achievements in life. Also, she was very quick to judge Zain and made assumptions without trying to know him and letting it pass as “I know his type”. πŸ™„

Back to being blind, she didn’t see all the red flags Kabir and his family waved so high that you can see it from the other side of the country. I lost it when she ignored all of them naming it romance and real family. I seriously wanted to kill her when she was ready to marry Kabir just because marrying him mean she would be married before 30. She sure tested my patience a lot.

+ As I said climax didn’t surprise me. It just made me more frustrated towards main character. Finally, we had a satisfying ending. FINALLY, that consultant businessperson’s brain worked in the right direction, she actually-really-unquestionably-absolutely could see her mistakes and dodged a bullet at the very last second.

Another thing I would mention before end of the review is, I wouldn’t call this romance. There is a little banter and developing feelings between Radhika and Zain but it isn’t the main part of the book. Yes, Gayatri and Birdy’s happy ending after waiting for most of their lives is a romace but as for Radhika, it’s not happily ever after thing. In a way that was very realistic approach that I liked. This is more women’s fiction and more about marriage culture and feminism.

Overall, The Naani Diaries is enjoyable contemporary women’s fiction with feminist view on Indian wedding and marriage culture. I loved the concept and idea. If you can ignore main character in certain parts I’m sure you’ll enjoy this.

I recommend this if you like,
medium pace
Indian matchmaking
Marraige culture
women emoowerment
Feminist view
many layers and topics to discuss
Less romance and more family relationship
women in a patriarchal regressive society
revelation almost near the end of book

Book Links

Goodreads | Amazon.in | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Thank you for reading! Let’s chat..,

What do you think about the book and review?
have you read this or any book by the same author?
What are your thoughts on arranged marriage or marriage in general?
Would you be willing to sacrifice many things, even your identity, to get married?

Just in case you missed,,,,

The Broken Darkness by Theresa Braun – Book review
The Case of the Emigrant Niece by David Cairns of Finavon – Book review

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. β€œYou can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

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