cover image Love Potion Number 10: A Jana Bibi Adventure

Love Potion Number 10: A Jana Bibi Adventure

Betsy Woodman. Holt, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9957-7

In this serviceable sequel to Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes, Woodman returns to Jana’s quiet yet colorful existence in 1960s India. Now officially saved from a planned dam construction, the town of Hamara Nagar is enjoying newfound fame as an enclave for philosophers. Jana, the resident fortune teller, decides to take up dream interpretation after she, newspaper editor Rambir, and Treasure Emporium owner Ramachandran decide that “home of dreams” would be a nice nickname for the town. Meanwhile, everyone in Jana’s bustling household, from her longtime ayah (nursemaid), Mary Thomas, to 11-year-old messenger boy Tilku, think that what’s missing from her life is a husband. A visit from Jana’s wealthy friends Lily and Cyrus, accompanied by Cyrus’s recently widowed cousin and business partner Max King, lead to hopes that Max might fill this role. But the high-society trio’s lifestyle and investment plans for Hamara Nagar clash with Jana’s simple existence. The first book’s large cast of characters is underused here, while a subplot about attempts to steal Jana’s loquacious parrot, Mr. Ganguly, adds to the book’s haphazard feel. Those interested in revisiting Hamara Nagar should enjoy seeing Jana again, but the story is unlikely to win over newcomers. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME Entertainment. (Aug.)