In My Hands Today…

Cuckold – Kiran Nagarkar

The time is early 16th century. The Rajput kingdom of Mewar is at the height of its power. It is locked in war with the Sultanates of Delhi, Gujarat and Malwa. But there is another deadly battle being waged within Mewar itself. who will inherit the throne after the death of the Maharana? The course of history, not just of Mewar but of the whole of India, is about to be changed forever. At the centre of Cuckold is the narrator, heir apparent of Mewar, who questions the codes, conventions and underlying assumptions of the feudal world of which he is a part, a world in which political and personal conduct are dictated by values of courage, valour and courtesy; and death is preferable to dishonour. A quintessentially Indian story, Cuckold has an immediacy and appeal that are truely universal.

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In My Hands Today…

Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia (The Princess Trilogy #1) – Jean Sasson

Sultana is a Saudi Arabian princess, a woman born to fabulous, uncountable wealth. She has four mansions on three continents, her own private jet, glittering jewels, designer dresses galore. But in reality she lives in a gilded cage. She has no freedom, no control over her own life, no value but as a bearer of sons. Hidden behind her black floor-length veil, she is a prisoner, jailed by her father, her husband, her sons, and her country.

Sultana is a member of the Saudi royal family, closely related to the king. For the sake of her daughters, she has decided to take the risk of speaking out about the life of women in her country, regardless of their rank. She must hide her identity for fear that the religious leaders in her country would call for her death to punish her honesty. Only a woman in her position could possibly hope to escape from being revealed and punished, despite her cloak and anonymity.

Sultana tells of her own life, from her turbulent childhood to her arranged marriage–a happy one until her husband decided to displace her by taking a second wife–and of the lives of her sisters, her friends and her servants. Although they share affection, confidences and an easy camaraderie within the confines of the women’s quarters, they also share a history of appalling oppression’s, everyday occurrences that in any other culture would be seen as shocking human rights violations; thirteen-year-old girls forced to marry men five times their age, young women killed by drowning, stoning, or isolation in the women’s room, a padded, windowless cell where women are confined with neither light nor conversation until death claims them.By speaking out, Sultana risks bringing the wrath of the Saudi establishment upon her head and the heads of her children.

But by telling her story to Jean Sasson, Sultana has allowed us to see beyond the veils of this secret society, to the heart of a nation where sex, money, and power reign supreme.

In My Hands Today…

A Good Indian Wife – Anne Cherian

Handsome anesthesiologist Neel prides himself on his decisiveness, both in and out of the operating room. So when he agrees to return to India to visit his ailing grand­father, he is sure he’ll be able to resist his family’s pleas that he marry a “good” Indian girl. With a girlfriend and a promising career back in San Francisco, the last thing Neel needs is an arranged marriage.

Leila is a thirty-year-old teacher in Neel’s family’s village who has watched too many prospective husbands come and go to think her newest suitor will be any different. She is well past prime marrying age; her family has no money for a dowry; and then there’s the matter of an old friendship with a Muslim boy named Janni.

Neel and Leila struggle to reconcile their own desires with the expectations of others in this riveting story of two people, two countries, and two ways of life that may be more compatible than they seem.

In My Hands Today…

Cinnamon Gardens – Shyam Selvadurai, André Bernard

Set among the upper classes in the gracious, repressive and complex world of 1920s Ceylon (Sri Lanka), this evocative novel tells the story of two people who must determine if it is possible to pursue personal happiness without compromising the happiness of others. A young teacher, Annalukshmi, whose splintered family attempts to arrange an appropriate marriage for her, must decide whether the independence she craves will doom her to a life without love and companionship. It is also the story of Balendran who, respectably married, must suppress-or confront-the secret desires for men that threaten to throw his life into chaos. With sensuous atmosphere and vivid prose, this masterfully plotted novel re-creates a world where a beautiful veneer of fragrant gardens and manners hides social, personal, and political issues still relevant today.

In My Hands Today…

The Contract – Zeenat Mahal

“…We’ll get married, but I’ll pay you a monthly salary to behave and appear for all practical purposes as my wife…If you agree, the marriage vows can be taken on the phone on Saturday, since I have an hour free in the morning.”

Shahira, a young, divorced mother of a seven-year-old son, wants nothing to do with men ever again. But circumstances have forced her hand, and Hussain’s unusual proposition leaves her secretly relieved. As per their contract, she’ll have his name, will be paid to look after his ailing mother and motherless daughter and will be left well alone by him. Perfect!

Until her new husband decides to stop playing by the rules.

Hussain is suave and rich. He is nobody’s fool…and is not about to be bested by the ex-schoolteacher he is married to. He has Shahira in his sights and she has to have all her wits about her in order to hold him at arm’s length.

In My Hands Today…

Butterfly Season – Natasha Ahmed

On her first holiday in six years, Rumi is expecting to relax and unwind. But when she is set up by her long-time friend, she doesn’t shy away from the possibilities. Ahad, a charming, independent, self-made man, captures her imagination, drawing her away from her disapproving sister, Juveria.

Faced with sizzling chemistry and a meeting of the minds, Ahad and Rumi find themselves deep in a relationship that moves forward with growing intensity. But as her desire for the self-assured Ahad grows, Rumi struggles with a decision that will impact the rest of her life.

Confronted by her scandalized sister, a forbidding uncle and a society that frowns on pre-marital intimacy, Rumi has to decide whether to shed her middle-class sensibilities, turning her back on her family, or return to her secluded existence as an unmarried woman in Pakistan.

We follow Rumi from rainy London to a sweltering Karachi, as she tries to take control of her own destiny.