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REVIEW: Almost Single by Advaita Kala

Dear. Ms. Kala,

0553386107.01.LZZZZZZZOur recent discussions about multiculturalism here at Dear Author reminded me to pluck your book out of a stack sent to me by Jane – our distributor of all advanced and finished copies. The pull quote from Independent clued me in as to what to expect – namely Bridget Jones in a sari. But I think saries are lovely and India is a country which has always interested me.

Aisha Bhatia has the standard chick lit accouterments – a slightly boring job with a boss who makes her life difficult just because he can. She’s got a coterie of friends – one single woman, one ‘getting a divorce’ woman and a Gay couple, a mother who nags Aisha about her dwindling marriage prospects. She and her friends go out to meet and mingle in the Delhi night spots. Aisha is perpetually almost broke due to spending sprees and enjoys a glass of vino whenever it’s offered.

She meets a cute guy under embarrassing circumstances. Thinks he’s out of her league and snotty. Gossips about him with her friends. Manages a few more prat filled encounters with him all the while starting to fall for him. Then, when she thinks all is lost, manages to hook her man.

It’s pretty standard stuff for those who have read even a few chick lit books. I’ll be honest and say that if it weren’t for the hook of the story being in India and getting to learn a bit more about that culture and country, I probably wouldn’t have started or finished the novel.

I do like that you don’t dumb down the Indian aspects of the story. Not all the words or conversations are immediately translated into English. The meanings are fairly clear from the context and there’s always Google should a reader want to know more. The characters are presented from an Indian-centric POV and, like my initial forays into British chick lit, I enjoyed the window into a different mind set than the standard American books.

You have an easy to read writing style and I breezed through the novel in one afternoon. It is what it is and you deliver on that. But I guess my search for any evolution in the chick lit genre will continue. C+

Jayne

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

This book was provided to the reviewer by either the author or publisher. The reviewer did not pay for this book but received it free. The Amazon Affiliate link earns us a 6-7% affiliate fee if you purchase a book through the link (or anything for that matter) and the Sony link is in conjunction with the sponsorship deal we made for the year of 2009. We do not earn an affiliate fee from Sony through the book link.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

14 Comments

  1. Lori
    Dec 16, 2009 @ 16:57:16

    I love that cover.

    I adore the idea of multi-cultural chick lit and a C+ grade sounds okay. (Plus I’d probably get it just for that cover alone. Thanks for the review Jayne.

  2. Mala
    Dec 16, 2009 @ 18:36:43

    I just spent a solid minute staring at the cover trying to figure out if the model is wearing the sari incorrectly. Whether or not the main character is Bridget Jones in that sari is something I can’t really gauge without reading the book, but I have to say dismissing the character as an Indian knockoff of an already established British character is kind of demeaning!

    Also, Jayne, the capital of India is spelled “Delhi,” not “Dehli.”

  3. Janine
    Dec 16, 2009 @ 19:52:58

    I believe Jayne is on hiatus from Dear Author until the end of January, so if she doesn’t respond to comments, that’s why.

  4. mina kelly
    Dec 17, 2009 @ 03:58:34

    I have to say dismissing the character as an Indian knockoff of an already established British character is kind of demeaning!

    It is, but from the review it also sounds like this is another Pride and Prejudice update (like Bridget Jones was). I’ll go out on a limb and say there’s a friend or relative who gets themself in trouble, and the guy steps in to help save the day. Maybe a comparison to Bride and Prejudice might be more appropriate? Though The Independent probably sniffs at ‘musicals’ (love that paper, but if it’s not about the end of the world as we know it it’s apparently not fit to print!).

  5. Jayne
    Dec 17, 2009 @ 08:11:25

    @Mala:Apologies for misspelling Delhi. Sorry, sorry.

    As for the character, I’m afraid she is a standard Chick Lit character who happens to be Indian and live in India. As I said, the story covers all the bases of this already established genre. I’ve been reading Chick Lit books for years now and by this point, I know the conventions and this book is filled with them. I’m not saying it’s bad, because it’s not. But it’s nothing new in the genre.

  6. Julia Sullivan
    Dec 17, 2009 @ 15:10:20

    I liked this book a lot more than Jayne did, but yeah, it is pretty standard-chick-lit fluff with a cast of upper-middle-class characters who are obsessed with clothes and boys and hanging out in bars with their friends. It’s quite well-written, though–I think I gave it a B+ on that basis.

  7. Mala
    Dec 17, 2009 @ 19:34:32

    Thanks for the reply, Jayne, and for the clarification on this just being a lather-rinse-repeat of Chick Lit tropes except with an Indian setting!

  8. dri
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 05:21:13

    Hmm. Interesting. *makes note*

    Makes me wonder how similar this one is to a book I vastly enjoyed, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s You Are Here. Although I suspect that was the sheer novelty of seeing what my life might have been like had I stayed in India. :p

    A giddy stream of consciousness rather hilarious and ultimately quite sweet novel about a twenty-five year old girl finding herself in the search for a meaningful relationship. I especially loved the blend of Hindi and English in the narrative cos it made the humour pop right off the page … I could totally hear it. :p

    Now I want to get this Advaita Kala novel if only for comparison purposes. *lol*

  9. Julia Sullivan
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 13:10:38

    I liked You Are Here more than Almost Single. Another interesting India-set chick lit I read in the past year was Lucky Every Day by Bapsy Jain, which pushes the genre envelope a bit more (the heroine comes to the US and teaches yoga at a prison).

    I think what Penguin is doing is reprinting the Penguin India chick-lit books that seem like they have the best chance of succeeding in the US on their US imprints. Which is cool; I wish they would do the same with other genres of fiction.

  10. Rhonda Rauch
    Feb 26, 2011 @ 18:00:56

    Hello Avaita I loved your book Almost Single…I am here in America yet have one
    Marathi grandparent.I am Rhonda,44, artist and author of two short stories published
    in Groundwaters magazine. My canvas was
    accepted at the art show over at The Pizza
    Research Institute and is entitled Waterway
    in France…I am so glad to find an auithor and script writer like yourself…Thank you for your wonderful book ..Rhonda

  11. Notorious
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 16:58:09

    @mina kelly: I liked the book because the author is very refreshing to read, you can picture it as real. Although you are right there was not much of a story, set patterns. But the writing style of the author made it all up for me..!! :)

  12. Notorious
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 17:00:29

    @mina kelly: No it is really not so, not a Pride and Prejudice, neither an Indian version of that. No similarities really, anyways not ones which make a significant difference. Attitude of the protagonist maybe, nothing else as far as I feel.

  13. Rhonda Rauch
    Jan 07, 2014 @ 17:33:40

    I have just recently seen Kahaani…this film where Vidya is pregnant in India. This story
    is in total chaos and Vidya is seen barfing. Really Vidya is much like Impali and her
    daughter princess Chanda. Ofcoarse, Chanda is about 2 yrs old and in a lot of Kodak photo
    adds…please…to Avaita Kala…write more stories about India ,thank you Rhonda

  14. Rhonda Rauch
    Jan 07, 2014 @ 17:39:55

    This all seemed a little too simple..I looked around my writing table for Devin’s photo
    And wrote a poem about ,my niece, in Groundwaters. Later, I wrote paragraph’s about
    Devin and a recipe. When can I get some info on new characters for stories….can you use
    my name Rhonda in anything…?

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