I received the book Haveli by Zeenat Mahal from Indireads as a review copy. I would like to thank Naheed Hassan of Indireads for sending me the book to review. Haveli is the story of Chandni. The story is set in 1971 in Pakistan.
Abandoned by her father, C. is brought up by her domineering, intractable grandmother, whom she privately refers to as ‘The Broad’. Raised in the closed environs of a haveli in Jalalabad, C. is rebellious, quick-witted and a self-proclaimed cynic.
So, when The Broad presents her with the ‘suitable’ Taimur as a possible husband, C. isn’t too happy with the arrangement, no matter how gorgeous ‘Alpha Male’ may be. As it happens, the feeling is mutual. Or is it?
And when C.’s long lost father enters the scene, things get really complicated…
Chandni, daughter of Zainab and Shah Jehan (referred to as Nameless), is the granddaughter of Zaitoon Begum, the widow of the last Nawab of Jalalabad. She lives with her grandmother in Gulaab Mahal, calls her Bi Amma and refers to her as “The Broad”. She has been homeschooled by the best tutors.
Zafar is her half-brother, trained to be lawyer, works in the only law firm in Jalalabad, which belongs to Rtd. Colonel Farhat Ullah. Zafar wants to marry the Colonel’s daughter, Mahnoor.
Ali or Baba is a friend of her late mother’s and she has a special relationship with him. He reminds her of Santa, visiting them twice a year and bringing her presents like chocolates and heels. She finds him jovial and funny and loves him with all her heart.
She has a crush on Kunwar Rohail Khanzada, whom she has wanted to since she was ten. He is widowed with a thirteen year old daughter, who is a good friend of Chandni’s. She tries to dress up provocatively to attract his attention.
Her grandmother wants her to marry Taimur, Ali’s son. She hates him and names him Alpha Male. He sees through her and tells her that if she plays hard to get, for which he would help her, maybe, Kunwar would fall for her. She throws literary insults at him and calls him names of various fictional characters like Uriah Heep, Rumpelstiltskin amongst others. But he tells her that eventually, she would marry him.
Suddenly her father arrives on the scene and tells her that he has come back for her and wants her to marry the man of his choice. everyone feels that he has an ulterior motive but not Chandni.
Would Chandni marry Taimur or the man her father wants to marry? You must read to find out.
The characters are well developed and the plot is interesting. There is drama, emotions, humour and suspense all rolled into one story. The book is humourous and the names that Chandni gives to people are actually very funny. I finished it off in one sitting as the book is short, crisp and unputdownable.
Book Source: Review Copy from Indireads