Saris and the City by Rekha Waheed

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Saris and the City by Rekha Waheed
Buy Saris and the City from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Saris and the City from Amazon.com

Genre: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Nicky Cole
Reviewed by Nicky Cole
Summary: Thirty year old Yasmin Yusuf has her heart broken and loses her job in one fell swoop. How she picks herself up and moves onward and upward makes for an occasionally predictable but very entertaining read.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: April 2010
Publisher: Little Black Dress
ISBN: 978-0755356133

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Yasmin Yusuf is a likeable main character with a group of Sex-and-the-City-style friends. The story begins with Yasmin splitting up with the man she was convinced was going to propose, rapidly followed by losing her job. We then follow her as she determines to become successful and make her mark in her new job, whilst holding out for the package in her personal life. I particularly liked the way each chapter is a lesson and lets the reader know what Yasmin will be learning or proving through events played out in that chapter. For example, chapter one is Lesson One: If he's the bad boy and you're the good girl, you will get burnt, hence the resulting ex-boyfriend.

Yasmin is easy to empathise with as she's a prime example of the 'modern woman' who wants it all; the happy-ever-after marriage and successful career. She's not a stereotype, but many women of a similar age will be able to identify with how she thinks and acts. In pursuit of her aims, Yasmin's refusal to compromise on what she wants to achieve personally and in her job are continuous themes but the author also effectively incorporates women's insecurities through the various experiences of the female characters. The strength of Yasmin's relationship with her traditional Bengali family (and especially her widowed father), alongside her desire not to disappoint them, is also really endearing. As an English reader, I didn't understand the Bengali words used in their conversations but got the general idea from the context. The balance between maintaining a strong sense of self and keeping family happy is not an easy one and there are many examples of this being tested.

As you would expect from the genre, there are some predictable characters - the supportive and sisterly friends, the ambitious office ice queen and handsome boss with the secret past, affording him vulnerability. However, the interactions between the characters and events that link them are told at a good and entertaining pace and made me want to keep reading.

Part of the story takes place in Dubai and this is where Yasmin really comes into her own. Although she's tied to work there, she's temporarily freed from friend and family issues. This was a particularly enjoyable section of the book. The only thing I found a bit distracting was the sometimes excessive use of adjectives in reference to Yasmin's clothes and possessions. For example: my navy Burberry princess-line trench coat. I am being picky here and this may not bother other readers. Overall, I found this book highly readable and enjoyed my first experience of Rekha Waheed's writing.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Beachcombing by Maggie Dana and The Not-So Secret Diary of a City Girl by Allie Spencer.

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