Book Review: Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki

October 04, 2007
Vivek Sharma

Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki is an easy read. You can take it on a few hours flight and read it from cover to cover. It is a story of deception, adultery, extra-marital affairs, and influences these have on the life of three generations of people.

An ignorant, not-so-rich Bangladeshi Henna is married to rich Calcutta bred, England educated Rashid by deception. He ends up with a thirteen year old wife who he took for a seventeen year old. Years later Rashid as well as his daughter Shona come to discover love outside their respective marriages. This creates a web of lies which is crafted nicely, and captures reader's attention. Rashid meets his soulmate in a British woman, while Shona finds courage to leave her Pakistani husband and seek solace in the arms of an Irish man. In third generation, sons of Shona have to deal with their own identity as UK born desis, and also with their unconventional career choices and sexual preferences.

Bitter Sweets turns out to be one of the novels that have only "once read" value. While the book description (back cover) seeks to put Roopa on same pedestal as Jhumpa Lahiri and Arundhati Roy, the contents are quite lacking in caliber or quality of prose that the more famous counterparts have received accolades for.

Bitter Sweets can be compared to Six Point Someone, or Inscrutable Americans, but Roopa Farooki adds so much melodrama here that it will not match the expectation of humor then. Perhaps one should just read the book for its contrived story, with various twists and turns. In the land of soap operas, the book contains enough bitter and sweet ingredients to become a popular read.

Vivek Sharma is a poet, an engineer, a scientist and a writer. He is published in both refereed literary and science journals, and his poetry was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He contributes articles to Divya Himachal (Hindi newspaper in India) and online to, and
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