review and cover mani: erotic stories for punjabi widows

June is shaping up to be an excellent month for phenomenal books, and the latest addition to that stack is EROTIC STORIES OF PUNJABI WIDOWS. The description of Sikh widows writing erotica was too enticing to resist, but this book was so much more than erotic stories. It's a novel with a dark side, one that exposes the way women are viewed in a small Sikh society in London, and in India. But don't let that scare you, because as dark as it gets, there's even more light. 

The back jacket description, from Goodreads:

A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.

Every woman has a secret life . . .

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s "moral police." But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.


On the first page, Balli Kaur Jaswal's thoughtful prose made it clear that she is a storyteller--a writer who wants to weave a tale. I imagine she agonized over every word, every turn of phrase, every image, because they were damn near perfect. Her dedication (and heaps of talent, obvi) made for a strong start and I effortlessly fell into the rhythm.

Eeee! I frickin' love when that happens!

Cover by Holly MacDonald

I also love when characters behave unexpectedly, and the widows in Nikki's writing class certainly qualified. I mean, they're the community's elders, and chose to spend their English classes sharing stories about cucumbers, garden hoses, pulsing knots, throaty moans, and clay sticks. The contradiction between my previously-conceived notions of how a Punjabi widow would behave and what the characters actually said was remarkable and entertaining. Also hot. Very hot, in some instances. I swear, I'll never look at a gaggle of older women the same way again. Especially if they're Punjabi. 😉 

But that's not the only storyline. Within the humorous, uplifting moments where women embraced their sexuality, EROTIC STORIES FOR PUNJABI WIDOWS addressed serious topics. The description alludes to a scandal but it's more significant than that. Obviously, I can't talk about the "scandal" in detail without including spoilers and I'm kind of frustrated because it's where the book really shined. And I'm not just talking about Nikki, although she was involved. In fact, the greatest journey belonged to the second narrator, and it was equal parts moving and enraging. That blend of light and dark is why I'll be recommending this book for a long time to come, because there's an unflinching honesty here. One that needs to be acknowledged. Also there is erotica. So you know, it covers a lot of bases. Haha! If you're in the mood for an entirely unique, charming, and diverse read, EROTIC STORIES FOR PUNJABI WIDOWS is the book for you!

EROTIC STORIES FOR PUNJABI WIVES comes out on June 13th, so set your calendars! And big thanks to Harper Collins Canada for a review copy!


For this mani, I used:

OPI - My Twin Mimmy, Alpine Snow, and matte topcoat

Julep - Octavia

China Glaze - I Got A Blue Attitude, Under The Boardwalk, Trip of a Lime Time

ORLY - Wild Wisteria and Paradise Cove

Mitty brushes - Daisy 1.0, Minty 0, and Clean Pro Flat


  1. How cool that the book is so genre-ful! And represents a racial minority in fiction (yay diversity). Also, that cover is epic and SO ARE YOUR NAILS. *swoons* You must have a bazillion nail polish colors to exactly match each cover like this. :)

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