The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters
By Balli Kaur Jaswal
Full of warmth and laugh-out-loud funny, the new novel from the author of Erotic Stories for Punjabi WidowsSometimes you need to leave home to discover your roots… Tweet
This booked started off with such great promise, and I was looking forward to reading a challenging and interesting book. However, the constant bickering and disagreements between the characters distracted and then bored me, and I lost interest in the story. A shame, as some big issues were touched upon, but not explored.
This is the story of three sisters following the wishes that their dying mother laid out in a letter to them. The three British-Punjabi sisters lead extremely diverse lives and really don't get along but take a trip together back to India to spread their mother's ashes in a journey that is proscribed step by step for them. Along the way they each learn a lot about themselves as individuals, as sisters and about the family unit, both Indian side and British side.
Having three sisters of my own I recognized mechanics and emotions of having to deal with very serious business they are undertaking and belly laughed at some of them. It is a nice book that is a very quick read.
This book was an easy read. I learned much about India through the eyes of visiting women who were seeing the land and culture that their parents had left behind.
I did not have a sister but this book highlighted the ups and downs of such relationships and their deep bonds.
This book dragged for me. Perhaps the author could have made more of the opportunity for extraordinary situations but I did laugh at times.
Three British-born Punjabi sisters – Rajni, Jezmeen and Shirina – are reluctantly brought together by their mother’s dying wish, which sees them heading off together on a pilgrimage to India and then to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. They all have very different personalities and, until now, have never been particularly close. In fact, they don’t get on at all but none of them feel that they can deny their mother’s last request, which comes complete with a detailed itinerary. In addition, all three have fairly major things happening at home which they are desperate to hide from their sisters. This book tells the story of their journey, during which they make discoveries about themselves and about their sisters which will change things forever.
This is an interesting premise for a book and has lots of potential. There is plenty of scope for humour, outrageous situations, family dynamics and self-discovery. To some extent, the author made the most of these. She also explores the complex world of an immigrant revisiting the country of their ethnic origins, and the additional problems which are caused by a group of women travelling in a part of the world where gender issues are viewed somewhat differently from the country in which they grew up. There are also some interesting observations about the Sikh religion and about Indian culture, which I assume are authentic. On the whole it is an enjoyable and easy read.
However, I didn’t think the author was entirely successful in telling the story. I found it bland and a little boring in places whereas the somewhat implausible storyline should give the author free rein to be creative with her ideas. Also, whilst it is true that it was an easy read I felt that this came at a price, with the writing sometimes being a little stilted. The only other minor point is that the ending was rather too neatly tied up, to the point of being contrived. To be honest this wasn’t really a problem as it goes with the genre, but it does rather detract from reality.
I have not read any of this author’s previous books and, whilst I will not be rushing out to buy them, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an easy and entertaining read.