THE BRIDE WORE RED by Robbie Clipper Sethi

THE BRIDE WORE RED

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Fourteen stories, about half previously published in such journals as The Atlantic Monthly and Mademoiselle, sensitively examine the potentially destructive fracture that--like some cultural San Andreas Fault--haunts relationships between those of differing backgrounds. Sethi, married herself to an Indian Sikh, brings to these tales of Anglo-Indian alliances a perceptive but always clear-eyed sympathy: East is East and West is West, but neither has the lock on cultural superiority. What really counts are those differences that cumulatively combine to threaten cross-cultural lovers and parents. The stories here also share a cast of characters related by blood and marriage. In the title piece, Sally, an American medical student, marries her lover Deshi (whom she met in the US), in a traditional red sari in a Sikh ceremony in India. But soon she's overwhelmed by the press of family, the obligations that an Indian marriage entails, and the feeling of being caught in a place where she doesn't belong. The newlyweds return to the US and pursue careers, but the entanglements follow. In ``Housewarming,'' Sally's parents-in-law, now living with the couple, insist on a religious blessing for the new home in New Jersey; and in ``The White Widow,'' Sally, now widowed and childless, decides to ignore tradition and live on her own instead of with her in-laws, whom she sends back to India. Other notable stories describe the desperate attempts of an Indian teenager to stay in the US (``America the Beautiful''); a bride's failure to adjust as her husband, a fellow Indian practicing psychiatry, thrives (``Doctor Doktor''); and an Indian family's reluctant decision to insist that their son in New York marry his blond girlfriend (``The White-Haired Girl''). A subtle take on a difficult subject, from a newcomer worthy to join that small, elect band who record the trials and occasional triumphs of love across the culture lines.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1-882593-14-6
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Bridge Works
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996