Leila Abid’s parents got together the old-fashioned way: via arranged marriage. Decades later, their relationship is one of mutual love and respect. Naturally, they want the same kind of stability for their daughter. And now that Leila is practically on the verge of spinsterhood — at the ripe old age of 26 — they feel that it’s time for their picky, flighty daughter to settle down.
Leila is a progressive American woman with a long list of traits she wants in a potential husband. She wants a Bollywood love story with a handsome hero. She wants a partner who will treat her as an equal. She wants someone who won’t mind that she’ll never be the type of Indian wife who can naturally cook traditional Indian meals. And of course, he needs to be drop-dead gorgeous with an amazing smile with an exciting life and intellectual pursuits. Even her friends tell her that her expectations are unrealistic.
Constantly at odds with her parents, she makes a deal: if she’s not engaged in three months, she will let them arrange her marriage.
With the clock ticking, her dating life kicks into exhausting overdrive. Her standards are put to the test as she tries to fulfill this impossible task of finding someone acceptable in three months. Sometimes people click; sometimes they don’t. Regardless, she grows more in those months than she probably has in her entire life.
Those who have read at least a couple of South Asian romances will see some familiar themes of the old world clashing with the new. Immigrant children who were born into their citizenship have vastly different experiences than their parents did; in this case, Leila sees herself as an American woman who values her Indian heritage and traditions, but she wants them to fit into her ideas of equality. Where this book differs from other South Asian romances, however, is that there’s a twist I haven’t really seen done before in this genre (I won’t discuss the twist because that’s too big a spoiler).
I mostly liked the book, but I do think that Leila’s character was almost annoyingly immature at times. If she were a teenager, I would understand her obsessive Bollywood romance fantasies. But she’s 26 years old and has at least a little life experience under her belt; clearly she’d know that her standards were unreasonable. Her parents, while loving and supportive, were also just overbearing enough for me to find it hard to believe that the story would have wrapped up the way it did.
Those qualms aside, The Marriage Clock is a quick, light read. Some of the dates are over-the-top, but the book is lighthearted enough to be able to pull it off.
The Marriage Clock was released by William Morrow Paperbacks in July 2019.