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ARC Book Review: Milan (A Wedding Story) by Simi K. Rao

Title and Author: Milan (A Wedding Story) by Simi K. Rao
No. of Pages: 152
Publication Date: Kando Books (31 August 2015)
Genre: Indian Writing, Arranged Marriage, South Asian Literature, Multicultural, Hinduism, Family Relations, Contemporary Romance
Language: English

Book Review:
Milan (A Wedding Story) is the story of Mili and Ahaan whose match has been arranged by their parents. The book takes us on a journey of two people who are virtually strangers but soon to be husband and wife as they try and understand each other and fall in love before their wedding day. The story encompasses the duration from the first meeting to the wedding.

I have read Simi's books in the past and enjoyed them. Like her previous books, this one also has Indian arranged marriage in the mix but unlike the previous books, this is a Wedding Story!

The cover is beautiful and reminded me of the fun and happiness that comes when I attend a wedding in India. The blurb is interesting and instantly peaks our interest.

The plot is interesting and had great potential. The execution is entertaining but the story left so many questions behind in my mind. So many story lines were hinted at and then never developed which left questions in my mind like it is told that Mili's father is struggling to keep his business and Mili is determined to help her father but nothing is later elaborated on it neither is it mentioned in the story again. Then Mili's friends' angle is also hinted at but then left hanging and so on.

Despite these loop holes, the story is well narrated and had me engaged throughout. The arranged marriage customs, rituals and the whole festive atmosphere is beautifully captured by the author. The insecurities, rebellion of the modern youth against this age-long custom is also admirably depicted and then the virtues of the arranged marriage custom in the present time is also very expertly conveyed by Simi.

The pre-wedding jitters, insecurities and rebellion is realistically portrayed. The scenery of Mili's hometown is so beautifully described that I felt like I was right there!

I could connect with Mili's parents anxiety for their daughter, their sadness over the fact that she would soon go to a new home and their pride in her. There aspirations of giving their daughter the best parting and their endeavours to secure for her a loving and dutiful husband is so commonplace in India where parents dream of ensuring a happy married life for their daughters and make great efforts towards this end.

I loved Ahaan. He is mature, sophisticated and yet connected to his roots, humble but still sometimes manages to look like an arrogant brute who doesn't care about anything but making Mili his bride but is overall in love with Mili and determined to make her his bride. His actions to secure her love and also make her fall in love with him are heartfelt but still somewhere I felt like something was missing. I wanted more background on his life in Delhi and an insight into his everyday routine but nothing much is told about him which somewhat made picturing him as a real person difficult.

Mili is sweet, innocent but childish. Initially, she looked matured when she thought about her father's business difficulties and dreamed of her future where she would help her father keep his business secure and also their home but then she suddenly turned into this childish, too innocent and silly girl who just didn't look like someone who is twenty plus years of age! But despite this her moments with Ahaan where she slowly and steadily went from resenting marrying Ahaan to realizing that he was the perfect match for her is heartfelt and had me smiling.

This story is like an episode in two people's lives. Only the wedding part is covered here. The loose ends left in the book and the questions like did Mili follow her dream of becoming a famous sitar player or did her father manage to save his home and his ancestral business or what happened after the revelations about her that she got from her friends etc. rankle a bit when you are reading the book and left me wanting to know the answers to these questions.

All in all, Milan (A Wedding Story) is entertaining and fun to read but don't expect a novel like story where all subplots are closed. Read it like a wedding episode and you will enjoy it. 3.5 out of 5 to it and recommended to all readers loving festive stories.

I received an ARC from the author and the Tour Organizers and I am very thankful to them. The above review is my honest and unbiased opinion and in no way influenced.

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