Regular price: £12.99

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – choose any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • Free, unlimited access to Audio Shows
  • After your trial, Audible is just £7.99/month
OR
In Basket

Summary

Hilarious and heartwarming, an East-meets-West novel for fans of The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul.

Every woman has a secret life....

When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she's shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals.

Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty - these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands, being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.

East meets West and tradition clashes with modernity in a thought-provoking cross-cultural novel that might make you look again at the women in your life.

©2017 Balli Kaur Jaswal (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Big-hearted, earthy and funny: turns so many preconceptions upside down and opens up a world that so many of us have only glimpsed. A rattlingly good story." (Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
"Compulsive, funny and wonderfully original - this novel glows with witty sensuality. I love it." (Helen Lederer, author of Losing It)
"Poignant, intelligent yet wickedly funny - a delightful read that reignites one's belief in the power of sisterhood." (June Sarpong)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    84
  • 4 Stars
    52
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    3

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    103
  • 4 Stars
    27
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    1

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    79
  • 4 Stars
    46
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    4
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Laugh out loud funny


I absolutely loved this audiobook. It was a perfect combination of storyteller and narrator. Even though there were some serious subjects, the book was upbeat and enjoyable. It really was laugh out loud funny. A rare gem!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable story with some depth

Lovely book with a bit of everything. I liked the cross culture storyline. The main characters seemed real and sympathetic.
The story is a bit suprising and not to predictable. Light enough and real enough.

The erotic stories were suprisingly poetic and well read. A real achievement.

There is real heartfelt drama and also fear. Many funny "parts" and real human dilemma's. I fully recommend this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

An interesting glimpse into a community

I think the reason I liked this book so much was that it helped me understand and respect communities that exist within the uk today of which I had only the briefest knowledge. Yes, as everywhere there is wickedness, but the widows and their friends kick back at it successfully and emerge triumphant.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

unnecessary details. too long.

struggled to finish. Idea and concept was good though. but could have been better in editing department. unnecessary details tends to lose objectivity of the story

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting, a little repetitive

I wasn't sure what to expect with this bizarrely named novel, and I was slightly worried it would be some Karma Sutra style book but it was nothing of the kind.

A group of old Punjabi women attend an English language class run by a British Asian young woman who mistakenly brings in an erotic book one day. It opens up a world of sensuous pleasure for the women, who are normally quite conservative about such topics.

While it's quite a novelty and funny at the beginning, the stories become repetitive and it becomes a little boring. The honour crime story was far more interesting and I wish there was more focus on that side instead of turning it in to a Gurinder Chadha type of novel. The stories are meant to open up other aspects of the community such as arranged marriages and the impact of honour - but it just doesn't seem to connect that well.

The protagonist Nicky is great though who reflects many British Asians growing up with dual cultures. Good but not great.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Claire
  • up north, UK
  • 01-04-17

brilliant performance

Meera Syal's performance brings this book and it's characters to life. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith should give this book a try.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

good book

Nicely read by Meera Syal, it is a beautiful story of life, death and love and very different to the books I usually read, so glad I finished it, it's really quite heartwarming.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely loved this book !

My first audible book and I really enjoyed the story , and the narration , something different.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • KSL
  • Lancre
  • 06-09-18

Then and now...

A charming story about a young Anglo-Punjabi Sikh woman called Nikki who goes to teach a literacy class to the more conservative and traditional elder women at her temple. It examines the barriers women in those communities have faced across generations, but also challenges stereotypes and really brings the womens' stories alive as Nikki attempts to reconcile her own future with her heritage.

I've really enjoyed it, but as the title suggests, some of the stories the women tell are somewhat sexually explicit - though very gently handled - so bear that in mind if you usually listen through a speaker in a public place! These stories are only a small part (if you'll excuse the pun!) of the overall story, but provide a great way to explore the more adventurous imaginations of a group whose real lives are bound by so many restrictions.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Well written characters

I love the way Balli Kaur Jaswal describes her characters and where they come from. She has very cleverly, incorporated social issues these communities face as immigrants with an interesting storyline.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Naomi
  • 11-08-18

Enjoyable

I found the story a little predictable but overall it was an easy and enjoyable read.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • GB
  • 25-10-17

Great Discovery

I bought this book on the title. It started off like a YA novel that was well written and well read but it soon became a fascinating journey into a complex world.
It deals with the lives of people in an alien environment who live within a introverted self protecting society.
Its characters are likeable and sympathetic and strong without being unrealistically aggressive
The story is compelling enough to keep you wanting more.
The reading is really good. The readers light tone only draws attention to the issues that are drawn out.
Altogether excellent entertainment though an interesting landsacpe