Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes

Betsy Woodman. Holt, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9349-0
Woodman’s debut novel (the first in a series) follows a quaint patchwork of characters living in smalltown India, with Jana Bibi at its center. Jana is of Scottish heritage, but was born in India, where she works as a violin tutor. When she learns that she has inherited a house in Hamara Nagar, she promptly moves to the tiny village and settles in just in time to hear that Hamara Nagar is scheduled to be drowned by a dam. She joins forces with other townsfolk—a cast demonstrating India’s unique cultural makeup, from the observant Muslim tailor Feroze and his wife, Zohra, to the enterprising owner of Ramachandran’s Treasure Emporium—to rescue the town. The plan is to make Hamara Nagar a tourist destination, and Jana is chosen to act as the resident soothsayer to draw visitors. Her attempts at fortune telling—and parts of the story—are saved by her wily parrot Mr. Ganguly, whose amusing vocabulary keeps the dialogue entertaining. Woodman has an ear for spoken language and firsthand experience living in India, but her plot line falls flat. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME Entertainment. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2012
Release date: 07/17/2012
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-8050-9531-9
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