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Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.

Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes: A Novel

Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes: A Novel - Betsy Woodman

Janet MacPherson Laird, aka Jana Bibi, is Scottish in heritage, but she's lived in India for most of her 58 years and it's where she most likes to be, so she's very pleased when she learns she's inherited her Grandfather's Jolly Grant House estate in a small village in Uttar Pradesh. There's trouble almost immediately, of course. The house is overrun by monkeys who have despoiled everything inside and are only frightened off by the sound of bagpipes played by a friendly local Gurkha. Then, not long after Jana Bibi is able to move in, she finds that the whole town is destined to soon be underwater after the construction of a government planned dam. The villagers conceive of a grand plan to put their town on the map, making it too valuable to destroy, and Jana Bibi is recruited to attract tourists by telling fortunes with the help of her very chatty parrot.


It's 1960, thirteen years after independence from Great Britain and the separation of Pakistan and India, so the Hindu, Muslim and Christian residents of the little town are still reacting to the aftereffects of the changes. This is not a fast paced story, but for the most part I didn't want to hurry it along because it's in a colorful exotic setting and filled with wonderful characters, including a philosophical tailor, his movie loving nephew, the lively girls from a local boarding school for Americans and Europeans, and the always game for adventure Jana Bibi herself, to name just a few. Fortunately this is the first of a series so there will be more opportunities to spend time with Jana Bibi and her neighbors.