Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Spotlight: The Object of Your Affections

Paris Kahn Fraser seems to have it all—a successful career as an assistant district attorney, a beautiful home in New York City, and a handsome, passionate husband. Traumatized by a childhood of neglect and abandonment and fulfilled by her life without children, Paris has no desire to become a mother. But her husband, Neal, dreams of having a brood. Ever the cunning attorney, Paris hatches the world’s greatest marital compromise that will grant them both their wishes—if she can pull it off.

Naira Dalmia never thought she’d be a widow before thirty. Left reeling in the aftermath of her husband’s death, all she wants is to start over. She trades Mumbai for New York, and rigid family expectations for the open acceptance of her best friend. There isn’t anything she and Paris wouldn’t do for each other. But when Paris asks Naira to be their surrogate, they’ll learn if their friendship has what it takes to defy society, their families, and even their own biology. While Naira always wanted to be a mother, this isn’t quite how she envisioned it. And though Paris doesn’t want to be a mother, it’s difficult not to resent the bond that’ll develop between Naira and Neal. Can they all truly embrace this modern family they’re about to create?

“Author Falguni Kothari’s exquisitely complex story of marriage, friendships, and unconventional choices reminds us that real love requires great courage.”
—Jamie Beck, bestselling author of When You Knew

"Complex, insightful and beautifully written...a book that will stay with you long after the final page.”
—Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author

"An intensely original and provocative story that tackles the complex challenges a modern woman faces within marriage. What makes a good wife? A good mother? What makes a woman lovable? Kothari grapples with love, ambition, friendship, and motherhood in this brave, insightful novel.”
—Barbara O'Neal, author of The Art of Inheriting Secrets

"A fascinating, captivating story about love, marriage, wealth and society, and the bonds of lifelong friendship.”
—Alisha Rai, author of Hate to Want You

Falguni Kothari writes unconventional love stories and kick-ass fantasy tales flavored by her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. An award-winning Indian Classical, Latin and Ballroom dancer, she currently elevates her endorphin levels with Zumba. She resides in New York with her family and pooch. Connect with Falguni at her website, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Growing up in Mumbai, novelist Falguni Kothari didn’t have access to the kinds of books she writes today—love stories. Specifically, unconventional love stories with a feminist bent that draw from her heritage but are set in contemporary times. Her last novel, My Last Love Story (2018), was praised for posing “a fresh conceptual question about marriage and love” (New York Times), was deemed “a fascinating study of love, selfishness, self-sacrifice, friendship, devotion, and loyalty” (Kirkus Reviews), and was recommended to “fans of Cecelia Ahern’s PS, I Love You and JoJo Moyes’s Me Before You” (Library Journal).


I’m a STEM girl to the core. Nothing excites me more than new technology that improves our quality of life. We’ve come a long way from our cave-dwelling hunter-gatherer ancestors to an era where Space X is about to take us to the moon and back. With the advances we’ve made in medicine, we are living longer and reasonably healthier lives. And while new diseases are being discovered every day, so are their treatments…all pointing toward a positive progress.

Let’s look at what medical technology has done for fertility, in particular, through birth control, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy. These days, women (and men) can take their fertility into their own hands and are no longer bound by a biological clock or a faulty reproductive system. They can choose when to have children, whether to have any children at all, and most importantly, how to have them.

In the last decade, surrogacy has been slowly climbing the fertility charts mostly because movie stars are opting to have their children through surrogates. In India, big-name directors and movie stars are eschewing traditional family models to become single parents through surrogacy and adoption. In the last three years, two single (by choice) men have chosen to fulfill their dreams of fatherhood through surrogates. They were tired of waiting for the perfect life partner to appear and decided to get on with their lives.

Reading about these single dads, I was struck by the fact that the need to nurture wasn’t just a woman’s prerogative. Fatherhood is as strong a calling as motherhood—I’ve seen his firsthand in my husband too. Conversely, the desire to put one’s career or self above everything else isn’t only a man’s shtick. The single dads also got me thinking about gender roles and societal myths that propagate motherhood as being a woman’s “true purpose in life.” That’s not to say that it isn’t or can’t be for a lot of women. But, what about the women who don’t wish to be mothers? The women who are fulfilled just as they are—childless, yet happy—surrounded by the people they hold dear, and the work they thrive on? Should these women be forced to have a child against their will because their spouses want children or society deems it so? And why should the spouse who does want a child be deprived of his desire either when medical advancements allow for a satisfactory compromise?

And yet, how many women (and men) end up compromising to societal mores? We live in a world where judgments have become as commonplace as breath. Our appearance, our intellect, our choices, our beliefs, nothing is exempt from comment. We judge others or are judged by them with the frequency of a status update. The larger the step off the beaten path, the harsher the judgment. And then there’s the guilt of either conforming to the rules and betraying yourself or following your heart and disappointing loved ones.

In The Object of Your Affections, I’ve attempted to address these issues and the stigmas attached to them through the points-of-view of two strong yet vastly different women who are best friends. In Paris, we have a protagonist who is happy just as she is…except she knows her husband wants a child, and has given up his dream of fatherhood for her. To assuage her guilt, she finds the perfect solution to the problem by asking her best friend, Naira, who is going through her own life upheavals, if she would agree to be a gestational surrogate. Of course, such decisions and intricate relationships are never without a cost, and both women come to realize it through the course of the novel. As in life, fictional stories must be fraught in tension.

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