Q and A with Sundari Venkatraman
Q: You have written a series of romances based on the members of a large family. Are they based on your family or someone you know?
A: Hi Sunanda,
First of all, thank you so much for hosting me on your blog.
While reading books in English, I could get my hands on many from UK and USA. What I found common to most of them is that I could get to know a lot about the local cultures and flavours. This is something that’s become deep rooted in me. When you read books based on a particular place, it’s possible to learn a lot about the people’s lives there.
Well, as you must be aware, large, joint families are still very much a part of the Indian culture. I grew up with my grandparents and my uncle’s family along with my parents and four sisters.
Growing up in a big family could be awesome, but could also get awkward. There are any number of permutations and combinations to explore. I find the whole idea fascinating, at times in a morbid way too.
The Maheshwaris of the Marriages Made in India series fame were originally introduced in my novel The Runaway Bridegroom. When I wrote this novel, I had never given a thought to writing about Chanda’s (the heroine of TRB) brothers. That came much later and the series was born.
The characters are not based on any particular family or person I know. As for characteristics, yes, I obviously pick some from here and some from there. Otherwise, Laxman Maheshwari is absolutely a fictitious character born of my imagination.
MY REVIEW OF “HER SECRET HUSBAND”
The story is the third in a series about the love stories of the Maheshwari clan, but the spotlight is stolen by the feisty Ruma, the love interest of Lakshman Maheshwari. In a short novella such as this one, there isn’t a lot an author can do in terms of character development. And yet, the book succeeds in serving its purpose: it is, at its heart, a light hearted, steamy romantic novella. The book breaks norm from the ‘traditional romance’ sequence of boy meets girl, they fall in love, they cannot be together, then they can. In this book, while the boy and girl fall in love, they do marry and find love (and lust!). The sweet thing is that the very forward and break-the-mold Ruma turns shy after marriage. Lakshaman is hot, sweet and charming, making for a very interesting dynamic between the protagonists. I enjoyed reading about Lakshman's bakery business, as well as the scenes in Delhi.
The unwitting villain is the girl’s mother, who wants Ruma to marry a rich guy. I’d have liked to see Ruma try to reason with the mother and tell her she loves a richer guy, only to find out her mother will not budge. Of course, we know that society puts a huge pressure on girls and a girl may decide she has no option but to hide her true feelings from her parents. The book succeeds in showcasing that social norm. I loved the character of Ruma’s gramdma and her uncle (who, I believe, has a book of his own).
Most sisters I know (including me and my sister) are very close. And a sister would be the first to know of a secret marriage. Ruma and her sister Saloni do not appear to share that bond, but perhaps it was mentioned in another book of the series?
If you’re looking for a serious read about social issues and intellectual contemplation, this isn’t your book. But if you’re looking for a light, easy, entertaining (and steamy) read, definitely pick this one up. You won't regret it. Sundari Venkatraman is a prolific author who can definitely draw you into the hearts of her characters.
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