How did I get it?:
I bought it!
If you’ve approached Bains Stores recently, you’d be forgiven for hesitating on doing so. A prominent window advert for a discontinued chocolate bar suggests the shop may have closed in 1994. The security shutters are stuck a quarter-open, adding to the general air of dilapidation. A push or kick of the door triggers something which is more grating car alarm than charming shop bell.
To Arjan Banga, returning to the Black Country after the unexpected death of his father, his family’s corner shop represents everything he has tried to leave behind – a lethargic pace of life, insular rituals and ways of thinking. But when his mother insists on keeping the shop open, he finds himself being dragged back, forced into big decisions about his imminent marriage back in London and uncovering the history of his broken family – the elopement and mixed-race marriage of his aunt Surinder, the betrayals and loyalties, loves and regrets that have played out in the shop over more than fifty years.
Taking inspiration from Arnold Bennett’s classic novel The Old Wives’ Tale, Marriage Material tells the story of three generations of a family through the prism of a Wolverhampton corner shop – itself a microcosm of the South Asian experience in the country: a symbol of independence and integration, but also of darker realities.
This is an epic tale of family, love, and politics, spanning the second half of the twentieth century, and the start of the twenty-first. Told with humour, tenderness and insight, it manages to be both a unique and urgent survey of modern Britain by one of Britain’s most promising young writers, and an ingenious reimagining of a classic work of fiction.
I picked up this book because I have been working my way through the Waterstones 11 debut novels for this year. Sathnam Sanghera has had work published before, but this is his debut novel. It’s an incredibly interesting, well written read. I’ve certainly enjoyed reading this talent author’s debut.
Marriage Material is essentially a story about family. It does include love, politics and a fantastic bit of humour. It depicts generations of an Indian family of shop owners in Wolverhampton. Sathnam Sanghera is writing from personal experience and I believe that truly shows. The story unfolds at a nice pace. It’s so easy to read and it’s incredibly enjoyable. I found myself reading chapter after chapter without wanting to put the book down. That’s always such a lovely feeling for a bookworm!
Marriage Material switches between first and third person narration, but it is done in such a seamless way, it really adds to the story. Sathnam Sanghera is a great writer and I look forward to checking out what he writes next!
Would I recommend it?: