New ethnic novel on a timely subject: Intercultural marriage

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Interested in cross-cultural/ethnic fiction? Then do take a look at J. Chloe BraunÂ?s novel Â? a timely and insightful exploration into the trials and tribulations of a cross-cultural marriage brought on by the pressures and demands of family traditions, culture and customs.

Hurdy Gurdy, is the story of Bronwyn Morgan who went from being a free spirited, highly accomplished university student to the wife of Ronobir Sentupta, a suave, well educated and polished Calcutta Brahmin. She was young and innocent; he was charming, suave, handsome and well-established. Naturally, they fall in love and after a whirlwind courtship and fairy-tale wedding they pack their bags to return to India.

The stars are still twinkling in Bronwyn’s blue eyes as she travels to India with Ronnie. Her Anglo Indian heritage is stirred with curiosity since both her parents were born in India, into that close knit community - now almost extinct. From her childhood she has heard nothing but sentimental and loving accounts of life in the “mystic east” and she longs to see these splendors with her own eyes. Alas, it isn’t long before her fantasies and daydreams are turned inside out. Ronnie’s mother does not accept the new bride and Bronwyn cannot please her. Finally she stops trying and ostracizes the woman, not realizing this will ignite her husband’s anger and displeasure.

Initially Bronwyn believes Ronnie’s promise that the trip to India would be temporary, mainly to introduce her to his family and settle his affairs. Later they will return to live in America and she will pick up where she left off. She was dead wrong. Ronnie loves his work and life of luxury. He also feels the needs to stick around to take care of his parents, reverting to a more orthodox lifestyle. While he still loves her, he calls all the shots and Bronwyn feeling powerless, does her best to keep the peace and be a good wife. Her only ally is Ronnie’s grandmother who embraces her like her own, shielding her from Ronnie’s mother. Later, she shares a dark secret with her – and the bond between the two women gets stronger. However, Granny dies unexpectedly and the heartbroken Bronwyn is left defenseless against her husband and his mother’s taunts and insults.

Social drinking at the club eventually becomes a daily habit for Ronnie, making him violent and controlling. He tries his best to keep Bronwyn confined to the home, alienating her friends, choosing her hairstyle and the type of clothes she will wear. Bronwyn meekly complies and puts on a happy face, never letting on how things really are. But eventually, the marriage begins to fall apart and one night Ronnie beats Bronwyn to within an inch of her life. In one of the most vivid and sad scenes from the book Bronwyn describes that night. While she calls out desperately for help no one comes to her aid. The servants’ quarters are within listening distance, but out of fear or respect for the master of the house they pretend not to hear anything.

Her only recourse is to leave Ronnie and so, assuming a new identity and makeover she flees along with their young daughter. But she fears it is just a matter of time before Ronnie tracks her down. What will he do when he finds her?

The subject of domestic violence and spousal abuse is not a new one. The setting however - a blend of a male dominated as well as matriarchal society - is somewhat exceptional. And you have to give Bronwyn credit for being strong enough to get away from her situation, difficult though it was. It will make you appreciate the many freedoms we have the west.

Hurdy Gurdy is available for pre-order from online bookstores and Ms. Braun’s publisher – PublishAmerica http://www.publishamerica.com or by calling 240-529-1031 in the US. For more information about the author please visit her official website at http://www.jchloebraun.com

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Jennifer Braun

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