The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal [in Booklist]
Sita Kaur Shergill is dying of cancer. She has “had enough of this ghastly life,” but before she goes, she leaves epistolary final wishes that her three British-born daughters journey together to India “on [her] behalf.” Her detailed itinerary is exacting, from serving others to taking cleansing ritual baths to a spiritual mountain trek, all of which – grumble, grumble – the hardly close Shergill sisters must do together.
The timing is less than ideal for London-based Rajni and Jezmeen: the former’s 18-year-old son has just announced he is engaged to a woman twice his age who’s pregnant with his child; Jezmeen’s acting career is teetering on a bizarre scandal. Meanwhile, the youngest, Shirina, travels from Australia, where she has lived since her year-ago wedding – the trip providing a convenient opportunity to fulfill her husband and mother-in-law’s demands.
Of course, all sorts of drama ensues, with much propensity toward the obvious. Predictability aside, Balli Kaur Jaswal’s (Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, 2017) tendency to insert cloying references to future reveals may incite eye rolling rather than inspiring engagement. Still, her many fans will be happy for a new read.