Last week I read Anju Gattani’s stunning debut, Duty and Desire (Greenbrier, 2011). Set in contemporary India, the novel chronicles the family drama between the well-off Prasads and the filthy-rich Dhanrajs. At the center of the story is Sheetal Prasad, a young, independent woman, and Sanjeet Dhanraj, a Harvard-educated bad boy.
The families arrange the marriage of Sheetal and Sanjeet, to both of their dismay.
Sheetal already has a boyfriend and Sanjeet is not interested in settling down. But because they come from traditional families, the two agree to marry.
Once Sheetal is ensconced in the Dhanraj compound, she learns the true nature of her arranged marriage.
The question that looms throughout the story is whether Sheetal and Sanjeet will eventually settle down together, or will their personalities continue to clash. Anju Gattani keeps the reader on edge until the end!
Sanjeet is a complex character, and I find him equally charming and adversarial. Sheetal is lovely and I find myself rooting for her from the beginning. She shines as a painter and plays an important role in the life of one of her new sisters-in-law.
Besides the spellbinding story, I love the gorgeous descriptions of the clothes and accessories. Think Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and take it up a few notches.
Duty and Desire is just the first book in a series. I can’t wait to read the others!
One last note. While Gattani was born in India, she spent her entire childhood in Tsim Sha Tsui, the bustling district on the tip of Kowloon, Hong Kong. To read more about her return to Hong Kong, check out this guest blog post she wrote last year. And this one.