Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: Sikh culture & religion, sexual repression, death.
Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
This audiobook came highly recommended to me by my book club buddy, Megan! She was cracking up at the humor of the novel and shared a segment during a past meeting, and she has great taste in reads so I decided to check it out. She also mentioned it was a recommendation by Reese Witherspoon’s book club, Hello Sunshine. Sold!
(Photo Credit: Google Images)
The novel introduces us to Nikki, a 20-something Sikh woman who has gone against her traditional Indian upbringing. She’s a law school drop out, tending bar in London, and single despite her family’s urging to find a husband. She’s not sure what she wants out of life, but after her father suddenly passes away, she decides to take a second job to help her support her widowed mother. While checking out a local community board, she finds an advert looking for someone to teach an English creative writing class to local Punjabi widows.
The widows aren’t exactly what Nikki expects. They’re not all little old grannies, only one knows how to actually read and write in English, and though they are modest, traditional women, they are eager to explore a more modern expression of their bedroom experiences and fantasies. As a joke, Nikki had bought a racy book of erotica for her more conservative sister, and the widows found it in the stack of writing workbooks meant for the class. After Nikki confronts her class about the misunderstanding, the widows convince Nikki that those stories are the kind they wish to learn to write. In an effort to liberate these women from their repressed expression, she agrees, thinking that maybe this is how she can be reconnected with her community while still maintaining her modern views.
Then, we learn about the Brotherhood, a group of extremely conservative Sikhs who keep a watchful eye on the morals of the community. Anyone who seems to disrespect (whether they meant to or not) their religion and community becomes a target of extreme punishment. Nikki and her class, who have now formed a strong bond, have to be extremely careful not to let the secret slip about the content of their writing, least the Brotherhood find out.
Meanwhile, there is also a parallel story about one of the widow’s daughter, Maya, who died in a suspicious manner, as well as a mysterious man whom Nikki becomes romantically involved with. As the ending draws near, the story lines come crashing together like waves, and I was completely drawn in.
I loved the audiobook narrator, Meera Syal. Her voice is like butter, and yet the changes in her tone for dialogue and breaks in the story were easy to understand and made it easy to focus on the tale. I also think listening to the audiobook certainly helped with understanding certain cultural words that I probably would have stumbled over if I was reading. I liked being able to hear the pronunciation.
Jaswal’s story is both funny, thrilling, entertaining, and downright steamy! I really enjoyed it, and though I’d recommend it, you should be warned that there really are erotic stories included in this book! There’s clever dialogue that takes the “audience rating” down a notch, but the title is not misleading. I’d say it’s definitely not suitable for the youngsters, but certainly a fun read for women.
TL/DR: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Women by Balli Kaur Jaswal is about a woman who decides to teach a class of Punjabi women how to write in English- though these women decide the writing topics- and reunited with her cultural roots.
Read it? Yes! Or listen to the audiobook- the narration is fantastic.
Recommend it? Absolutely!
Buy it? YES- you’ll want to read this in private due to it’s racy title, haha!
If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads:
- The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
- A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
- How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway