Synopsis

Geeta’s no-good husband disappeared five years ago. She didn’t kill him, but everyone thinks she did–no matter how much she protests.
But she soon discovers that being known as a “self-made” widow has some surprising perks. No one messes with her, no one threatens her, and no one tries to control (ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for her business; no one wants to risk getting on her bad side by not buying her jewelry.

Freedom must look good on Geeta, because other women in the village have started asking for her help to get rid of their own no-good husbands…but not all of them are asking nicely.

Now that Geeta’s fearsome reputation has become a double-edged sword, she must decide how far to go to protect it, along with the life she’s built. Because even the best-laid plans of would-be widows tend to go awry.

Audiobook Review

5 stars

Well, that will be one of these reviews very hard to write as that book made me think about a lot of things! I need to sort it out.

First a word about the narrator: Soneela Nankani. I discovered her in The City of Brass narrating Nahri and she did another stellar job impersonating Geeta and her accomplices/ friends.

1)About my thoughts

I know very few things about India and its society.

Of course I knew there were different religions and castes. That some people were really at the bottom of the totem pole and had jobs others didn’t want, Dalits, the outcasts. But I thought that was nearly abolished in modern India.

Discovering that it’s still happening left me …reeling!

I was astonished that people still believe that others are “untouchable”. That If they touch you you’ll be polluted or impure.  That an entire caste is still ostracized in modern days.

Then I thought: “Maybe it happens only in rural India?”

Anyway, I don’t want to mock or make fun of others beliefs, that’s not my goal here. Because who am I to say that I have the only truth?

But this was certainly a lot to swallow.

What enraged me and had me literally seething was all the violence men did and do to women without any reaction from authorities!

Young girls in rural areas having no indoor plumbing go relieve themselves in the fields and are often preyed upon and raped!

Frustrated suitors throw acid in the face of women, disfiguring them.

Men can beat and manipulate their wives for years, breaking their fingers without any reprisals!

Women in India or at least some women in some parts of India have in life the room men allow them to occupy. If they decide that you won’t have any freedom, you won’t have any.

And that’s what this book made me realize!

Talk about eye opening!

I now will have a whole other appreciation for my lot, I can tell you!

2)But what is The Bandit Queens?

The Bandit Queens is a weird mix of contemporary fiction mixed with social study / feminist story with a heavy dose of black humor and revenge story.

This is served by what will become a “band of sisters”, women allying and forming strong bonds through adversity, abuse and murder.

Geeta has been left by her abusive husband five years ago. He was a violent drunk and good for nothing man who made her feel like she was worth nothing.

Rumors in the village say Geeta killed him. Oddly, that will give her a fierce reputation and will protect her against violence from other men. It will also isolate her.

Until one day, a woman from her micro loan circle asks or rather strongarm Geeta in killing her husband.

Said husband is also a drunk and physically abusive.

That will set in motion a series of events where Geeta will reluctantly help women to “remove their nose ring” as in, become widows.

That was funny to see these amateurs go on heist, murdering husbands sometimes involuntarily and forging strong bonds of friendship, probably alike men at war with their comrades.

But what was funny and understandable on some level was also… disturbing because here I was, if not condoning, at least understanding why they had been committed. That left me vaguely unsettled.

Dark humor was ever present in the book, especially in the banter between Geeta and her ex best friend turned enemy. It helped swallow all the hard facts I talked about previously.

I listened to that book in record time. This is an amazing debut, really eye opening if you don’t know much about India like I do. And it won’t be my last book from that author!

I think what the author said in her note is absolutely true: ““For me, fiction is when research meets compassion; I believe this is often why facts don’t change people’s minds, but stories do.” That’s why I read and that’s why I think many people should read this story.

Thanks for reading.

Sophie

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10 Comments

  1. I like very much the core concept of this novel, and the fact that it compels the reader to learn some not-so-nice facts about women’s life in India adds to its interest. Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂