Book Review: Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes

Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes: A NovelJana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes: A Novel by Betsy Woodman
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Publication Date: July 17, 2012
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

Jana Bibi moves with her chatty parrot, Mr. Ganguly and her loyal housekeeper, Mary, to Hamara Nagar, where local merchants are philosophers, the chief of police is a tyrant, and a bagpipe-playing Gurkha keeps the wild monkeys at bay. When word gets out that the town is in danger of being drowned by a government dam, Jana is enlisted to help put it on the map. Hoping to attract tourists with promises of good things to come, she stacks her deck of cards, readies her fine-feathered assistant—and Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes is born.

This was a charming book with an eclectic cast of loveable characters. It reminded me of a Fannie Flagg novel, only set in a small (fictional) town in India instead of a small town in the southern United States. The people of Hamara Nagar are each quirky in their own way. They are just plain nice and want to help other residents of the town. When the town is threatened, they band together without question to help save it. There is a bad-guy and some conflict but nothing too distressing. This novel is definitely a feel good book to read when you need a pick-me-up.

In the beginning of the book, there is an author’s note that explains some general things about 1960s India. I appreciated this since I knew almost nothing about what India was like during that time period. There is also a very helpful glossary in the back of the book. Finally, there is an etcetera section which is like the extras on a DVD movie, only for a book. What a great idea! I loved learning even more about the author and India in this section. Betsy includes a list of Indian movies that were popular in the time period – look for me to feature them as Page to Screen selections on this blog in the near future.

Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes is the first book of a planned series. I’m really looking forward to reading the next installment.

The song My Shoes Are Japanese is mentioned several times in the book. It’s fun and catchy so I thought I’d feature it here if you’d like to listen to it:

Buy this book at:
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(I received this book courtesy of the Amazon Vine program.)