Book Reviews

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Reviewed in the travel section of The Age newspaper (Australia), March 25, 2012

“This is a delightful love story and a kind of manual for anyone wanting to rise to the challenge of living in another culture and society.”

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Recommended in the What’s Hot! Supplement of The Times of India

 
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From Mumbai Boss

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From Poor in Java Blog

Review excerpt:

“I started this book in my flight to India and after 4 pages, my heart grew heavy and eyes wet but the best part about the book is that you cry for 2 lines and then the 3rd line brings a sweet smile on your face. I was so embarrassed that someone could catch me crying but fortunately the location of my seat was so perfect that I could sob at my ease. I am sure that there are millions of books out there written by many great and intense writers which can make me weep for probably hours and hours but something touched my heart in this book”.

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From Readers at Amazon Kindle

Review excerpts:

“Loved this book!! As someone who grew up in India but has lived outside the country for the past 12 years, I look at my home country differently today. Sharell’s book struck a chord as she narrated her life in India from a woman’s point of view. I could relate to and understand each of her experiences, her frustrations and the joy that she found in little things in India. For me this book was enjoyable in more ways than one: to read about life in India from a non-Indian’s perspective, to read about a woman’s experiences in a conservative, prudish country like India and to read about someone’s romance with a culture and life that is very different from the one that they grew up with. Sharell has narrated all of this with ease and grace! This is a must-read for anybody wanting a glimpse into life in a complex, paradoxical country, which takes from you as much as it’s willing to offer.”

“I bought the book from amazon on my kindle as soon as I came home from work on friday. Loved the book and could not put it down till I finished it. Being Indian, I loved the description of India which I thought was very different from the very cliched manner in which most non-Indians portray India. I am amazed at Sharell’s will power and love for her husband and her very positive attitude to life. I liked this book much better than eat pray love although I would not compare both of the books. The book is a very well written, honest account of her experience and it teaches all of us one thing. Have the courage to go out of your comfort zone and have the courage to change your life to achieve what you want. Congratulations, Sharell. Good Job!”

“I highly recommend this book. Sharell has a way of captivating her audience and really draws you into the story. Reading about her daily struggles is something we all can relate to. As she takes us on her journey to finding happiness and unexpected love, you feel as if you are in India with her. Thank you Sharell for sharing your experiences with us!”

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From Gayatri at Double Expat

Review excerpt:

“I never quite understood why so many people went to India to ‘find themselves’ especially since I, an Indian, ‘found myself’ in a country 6000 miles south-east of the coast. Nonetheless, I was fascinated by their experiences and read the books they wrote. But half a dozen paperbacks later, I recognized a pattern so predictable it could put a Shah Rukh Khan blockbuster to shame. Person goes to India. Tries to experience the ‘real India’. Hates it. Then loves it. Not this time!

What makes her story special is the way she writes it. It’s a sensitive and nuanced depiction, which neither glorifies the good nor mocks the bad. In fact, any woman who has ever relocated to another country can see a reflection of herself in Sharell’s stories. The situations may be different but the emotions are the same.”

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From Jayne Fordham at The Australian Bookshelf

Review excerpt:

“I really loved this memoir, written by Australian, Sharell Cook. There seems to be a trend for women to write memoirs about their overseas escapades following a relationship breakdown. Sometimes, these work well and sometimes they don’t. Henna for the Broken-Hearted, definitely worked for me!

Although I did really enjoy Eat, Pray Love (the most well-known novel in this genre) it was quite introspective and quite melancholic at times. Which, of course is fine because that is what the author experienced and a memoir wouldn’t be a memoir if it didn’t shed light on the low points of one’s life. What I loved about Sharell Cook’s story is the balance between open-mindedness to experiencing the new and an introspective account that is realistic and shows her flaws.

As a psychologist, I was drawn to her insightfulness and her growing sense of awareness and sense of self.”

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From Barnaby Haszard Morris at Jdanspsa Wyksui

Review excerpt:

“What ‘Henna for the Broken-Hearted’ really offers, though, is an honest new voice. I’ve always found Sharell to write on just about any subject with fundamental truth and honesty, but without compromising on elegance. I think that’s what sets the book apart from most transitional stories. There are no attempts to trick the reader by writing floridly around a point; instead, Sharell tells it exactly like it happened, warts and all, and she does so in a way that illuminates the deeper truths behind her experiences – truths many of us will be able to relate to. In her honesty, Sharell transcends simply narrating her own experience and speaks to all of us.

Probably the strongest section of the book is when Sharell is slowly getting to grips with Kolkata and falling in love with her husband-to-be. Their courtship is incredibly sweet and romantic, a real-life fairytale, but tempered with the reality of Sharell’s freshly broken heart and the more immediate challenge of dealing with daily life in India. She gives a good sense of what it feels like to drop yourself in such a foreign environment, and what the adaptation process is like. It’s slow, and there’s no single ‘eureka’ moment of understanding. If you put your mind to it, though, there are many small understandings along the way, each adding to a slowly growing knowledge and understanding of one’s surroundings. This is what happens to Sharell the longer she spends in India, and it’s what happened to me too”.

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10 Comments

  1. Henna for the Broken Hearted has inspired me with an honest vision of living in India as a foreigner. Sharell gives insight to being a foreigner married to an Indian National in a way that neither demoralizes the West nor the East. Her amazingly modest skill of adapting into a new life and new home is refreshing and honest.

    Sharell has managed to capture the heart and soul of India without giving us only the ‘good parts’ or ‘bad parts’ versions. She mixes both into a dazzling array of life lived differently but beautifully.

    I envy her experiences and await to hear more from her. I highly recommend this book and hope you find it as amazing a journey as I did!

  2. Through sharing her story, Sharell helps every one tap into the unspoken longings of their soul. Her choice to take a leap of faith to follow her heart into the unknown, encourages her reader to do the same. Sharell’s voice is special; not because she writes with abandonment, gently bares her soul, or vividly describes day to day living in a culture the West can barely understand – Sharell’s voice is special because she shows how India is a land of mirror and contrast, and how she dances between them, bridging the best of both worlds….

    Seeking inspiration for your life? We at Circles of Seven Foundation highly recommend this book.

  3. I finished this book in a weekend. I bought the kindle version for my phone on friday afternoon and I was done reading it by sunday night. There were some funny parts as well as serious. I loved every part of it. Would recommend this book to everyone. I hope it gets to be a best seller!

  4. Sharell’s honesty is mesmerising. It is amazing to have such a clear window into a life that started off so close to my own but has ended up so differently. When she talks about her frustrations with India and its people there is also such insight there, and when you consider she is not Indian it gives you a bit of a head spin. Having visited India myself I found her descriptions hilarious but was amazed at how well she coped. The whole idea makes my mind boggle. I stayed up and read the whole book in one night – I had to know what happened at the end! As for comparisons with Eat Pray Love – can I say (with some relief) Sharell completely lacks the whiney annoying personality that made EPL and all its agonies re the divorce so irritating to read. Sharell just states what happened, and her openness to her new experience is amazing in the context of what she has been through. She makes it all sound like a day’s work but when you consider the colossal undertaking she has made – making her home in India with an Indian husband and family – it really is an amazing story and well worth a read. I promised myself I would only read little bits as I had lots of work to do and found myself completely drawn in – I challenge you to put it down!

  5. I loved the book. I have never been to India because of a chronic health problem which makes travel prohibitive. I was in a relationship with a man from Bombay (he always called it that) and experienced many of the frustrations Sharell did. At the time I didn’t know enough of Indian culture to fully understand the reasons behind his behaviour and he was equally challenged and unable to adjust to a very different way of life in Australia. In the end he returned to India when his visa expired having decided against applying for permanent residency. There are many Indian people people living locally and this book does provide an insight into the enormous cultural differences they must overcome to settle here. I would recommend it to anybody living or working with Indian born people reisdent in Australia.

    • Hi Annie, I’m so glad the book was insightful for you and that you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading, and I really appreciate your kind feedback. So sorry to hear that your relationship didn’t work out. Cultural differences can be really tough unfortunately, especially when two cultures are so opposite from each other.

  6. I bought this book for my Kindle, and read it over the weekend. I had difficulty putting it down,really. Sharrell has a wonderfully refreshing way of telling a story that I loved. As others have noted, she looks at the way of life in India, so foreign to us Westerners, with awe& wonder, but @ other times utter frustration, but tells it like it is, with her own unique observational style. Her love for her husband and his family,& her new country overwhelms us with emotion, making us feel as she must have felt, going through all her trials& tribulations, but knowing that she had a new & loving family who helped and guided her along her journey. Her bravery was amazing. Can’t wait for Sharrell’s next book!!

    • Hi Megan, thank you so much for such lovely feedback. It made my day. I’m really glad you enjoyed the book!

  7. Hi Sharell

    A friend of mine recently visited India for the first time.
    Her travel book was your book ‘Henna for the Broken Hearted’.
    My friend loaned me the book on Saturday and I finished reading
    it on Sunday. I loved it. You really have a great talent to write
    in a truthful and colourful way. I have recommended my sister read
    your book. I wish you and your husband continues happiness.

    Thanks for a great read and more understanding on my part of how life
    is for an Aussie married to an Indian living in India.

    Kind Regards
    Dianne Bond

    • Thank you so much Dianne. :-) I really appreciate your kind words and good wishes. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book too, and found it insightful. And how lovely that your friend took my book to India with her!

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