Title: Bitter Sweets
Author: Roopa Farooki
Publication Date: 13th November 2007
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Shona Karim is in love. When she first sets eyes on Parvez at the age of ten, she knows he is the man of her dreams. Just like her father – tricked into marriage by her shamelessly deceitful mother – she is a hopeless romantic. Years later, lying to themselves and their families, the young lovers elope to start a new life above a sweet shop in south London.
But Shona’s inheritance is one of double lives and complicit deception. As time passes, and her children are born, it appears that she too has dark secrets that are about to be exposed. Can a family built on lies ever shake off its legacy? And can love ever be strong enough to right the wrongs of the past?
I’m going to cut to the chase: after reading a few of the influx of negative reviews on Goodreads, I felt like I was one of the only people who really loved this book so much that I found it almost impossible to put down. I’ve even added it to my Goodreads ‘favourites’ list, which is a rare occasion.
I can see how some people may not get into Farooki’s style of writing; it is a sort of montage style, which means that it flicks quickly between the perspectives of several people, and then links them all together somehow. I really like this style – I did in 2012 when I read this book and I still do now!
“I wasn’t sure at first, but as I continued reading I realised that it was becoming one of my favourite books…”
The story follows three generations of a family and their journey through life, linking together, and how their relationships change over time, for better or for worse. It is primarily about how people from different backgrounds – some from Bangladesh, Pakistan, London, Ireland and more – link together in some way or another, and what happens to a family that are built heavily on lies. This may not be some people’s cup of tea, and I wasn’t sure at first either, but as I continued reading I realised that it was becoming one of my favourite books that I have read in a while, and I couldn’t put it down.
I was wide awake until 2am finishing this book because it was so exciting – I really wanted to see what would happen to these families next! There are some sad moments, some happy moments, and some shocking turns and twists that were really unexpected. The clash of personalities between characters was really effective in creating dramatic and exciting storylines, and I loved it.
I recommend this to anyone over the age of about 16 – it’s not really suitable for anyone younger than that as there are a lot of sex references as well as references to alcohol and drugs towards the end, but for anyone above the age of about 16, I’d recommend you give it a try!
This review was originally published on Goodreads in 2012.
About the Author
Roopa was brought up in London and graduated from New College in Oxford in 1995. She worked in advertising and it 2004 quit to write full time. She now lives in south east London and south west France with her husband and two sons. Bitter Sweets is her first novel and in 2007 it was nominated for the Orange Award for New Writer.