Book Review: Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki

A family saga, Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki is somewhat related to the inheritance that we receive from our parents. Some of us inherit their good looks and intelligence, and some property and fame. But our protagonist Shona Khan only inherited skills to lead a deceitful and double life. A concoction of culture and family humor, Bitter Sweets turned out to be a treat to devour this festive season.

Bitter Sweets starts with the year 1950, when uneducated and thirteen years old Henna Khan is deceitfully married to Ricky-Rashid Khan. A match made on lies by Henna’s father to ward off his daughter, Ricky-Rashid Khan accepts her as his better half. But then, he sacrificed Ricky to be only Rashid. His dream of having an English speaking polished wife and a life in England is shattered forever, and he starts building a life in Bangladesh. Life moves on and Shona Khan is born, who inherits wealth but along with that, lies and deceit that may chart out her life forever.

After twenty years, history repeats itself. Shona Khan falls in love as soon as she sets her eyes on Parvez from Lahore, when she is barely 10 years old. Just like her father- who was tricked into marriage by a hopelessly deceitful mother, she is also a hopeless romantic. She understands that Parvez’s upbringing and background won’t be approved in her house, so she elopes with him to a South London sweet shop, creating a new bitter sweet life.

Bitter Sweets

As time passes, her children are born. Rashid also moves to London, to become Ricky again by falling in love with Verity Trueman. Shona also gets busy with her children, eventually losing Parvez to his music. But then, a time comes when the destiny of father and daughter both collide, making Shona wonder that till how long can she keep secrets of her family? And can love ever be strong enough to right the wrongs of the past? A bitter sweet family saga, a roller coaster of emotions.

Bitter Sweets starts off as an interesting family saga and pumps up energy into the reader’s mind who is trying to understand what will happen next. The characters are flawless, each one depicting their best. Henna and Ricky-Rashid depicting the marriages of 1950’s, when fathers sometimes used desperate measures to marry off their daughters to boys either studying or living abroad. Many of them even had deceitful marriages, as girls were not that polished at that time. Ricky-Rashid, despite being tricked into marrying Henna, accepts her as his better half.

Shona and Parvez, on the other hand, depict a more modern couple, who even when they are married, have their own personal issues to deal with. A once blissful marriage turns sour because love simply withers away. The spark and passion evaporate at one time, both Shona and Parvez don’t make an effort to reignite the same.

When I speak of the plot, I really liked it. The payback moves from one generation to the next, and characters beautifully portray lovelorn deceit. There is a cheerful consistency in the story throughout and delivers a positive message altogether. But, the only issue I faced was that the climax could’ve been better. The build up was a dramatic one, keeping me hooked till the end. But as soon as the climax comes, the dramatic build starts melting down bit by bit.

All in all, Bitter Sweets is a concoction of laughter and tears, a lighthearted family drama that any reader would like to devour.

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