The Unexpected Son, due to be released in August, 2010, delves deeply into the Indian/ HIndu culture. In this, her fourth novel, Bantwal takes us to Palgaum, perhaps a town based on Belguam, her hometown.
Unlike the previous books, in The Unexpected Son the reader learns about politics and prejudice in India. In the town of Palgaum, rival cultures battle for power causing riots, mayhem and real danger to the citizens of the town. Each group, the Kannada and the Marathi, believe that the town should belong to Karnataka and Maharashtra respectively. The two groups boast different cultures and languages and true enmity exists between them.
This is the backdrop for a one-sided Romeo and Juliet where only Juliet is in love. Vinita, an admittedly plain girl, falls for the playboy and gets pregnant. In India in the 70's, this is unheard of. Vinita refuses to have an abortion, has the baby, loses the baby, and end up married in America.
However, after thirty happy years of marriage, Vinita gets a shock--the son she thought was dead is alive, but needs her help. She must return to India to resolve what was begun when she was a naive teenager. Will her husband understand? Will she be able to save her newly-found son's life?
Bantwal tells the story in two time periods--the present and the 1970's. What happened to Vinita when she was nineteen and how those experiences now impact her life are the center of the story. Bantwal is able to seamlessly weave the two tales together and keep the reader enthralled. There are subtle clues which foreshadow events for the perceptive reader, but most of all there is the message this author loves to write about: the importance of family.
As in her other books, Bantwal shows that she loves to teach us about India--its culture, religion and people--and in such a delightful book, we enjoy the learning!
Visit Shobhan Bantwal's website for information about her three previous books and biographical information. Mrs. Bantwal knows a lot about India and arranged marriages. She lived in India until she came to the United States through an arranged marriage.
Any of her books are great choices for a book club.