The Rules of Arrangement by Anisha Bhatia

Zoya Sahni is on her way to having an outstanding marketing career. Her boss has just put up her name for a promotion that will take her straight from Bombay to New York. But when an old acquaintance pops back into her life, and her family rushes ahead to plan their arranged marriage, Zoya finds herself unable to shatter her family’s aspirations.

It’s great to see more and more Indian representation in such typical rom-com novels. And that is what drew me to the book. From the synopsis, Zoya seemed like a headstrong millennial, who would prioritize her ambitions over superficial societal norms.

But unfortunately, for the majority of the book, her fierce attitude extends only to her thoughts. On the outside, she presents an almost nonchalant acceptance of her family’s fatphobia and colourism. I completely understand that for a lot of people it’s not easy to stand up for themselves or to break away from the influence of their families. It’s just that the way Zoya’s character has been constructed, you’d think she would be less tolerant of people telling her how to live her life.

One of the main reasons I didn’t love this book as much is because of Zoya’s character. At times, you get these glimpses of her being judgmental and whiny. She clearly wants to get the job in NY, and despite how arrogant her fiancĂ© is, she just goes along with it.

Lalit’s character infuriated me to no end. He has been depicted as this entitled male chauvinist. And for some reason, Zoya finds it in her to place him on an even bigger pedestal, all the while undermining herself because of the insulting comments he makes.

Image Courtesy – Goodreads

There are many dialogues and monologues in this book that you might find offensive. Despite Zoya’s self-deprecating humour, I didn’t find her sassy remarks to be entertaining in the least bit. Even her enmity with Tanya just felt extremely forced and unnecessary.

The few reasons that I kept reading the book are:

  • I wanted to see if something comes out of Zoya’s other potential love interest
  • Her bond with Chottu and how she feeds his enthusiasm for reading books was a nice touch to the story
  • There’s this sense of intrigue added later in the book about Sheila bua‘s (aunt’s) actions

In the end, Sheila bua’s character arc was one of the impressive ones. I love how the author conveys the message regarding generation gap and how we often fail to see our parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents as anything more than labels in society.

The author’s writing style is engaging, and so I’ll definitely keep an eye out for her works. It’s just that certain aspects of the story didn’t sit well with me, and the book largely replicates Indian culture stereotypes. And so, I wouldn’t recommend The Rules of Arrangement to anyone.

Published by Meera Nair

A 27 year-old freelance Content Writer, who spends all her free time ensconced in the pages of a book or writing to her heart's content about topics that excite the creative spirit in her.

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