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Shruti Kohli’s The Petticoat Journal aims to dispense advice to Indian women about money management, but instead spreads itself too thin.
Review by Arunima Shekhar
“In my house I’m the boss, my wife is just the decision-maker”, said Woody Allen. This is true for most households in India, where the wife is the one who handles money at home. Unfortunately, when they need to handle their own finances, many Indian women step back. Although, they might be independent women, earning their own monies, many leave the finer details of handling finances to the men in their lives, be it the father, brother, boyfriend, husband or son.
The Petticoat Journal by Shruti Kohli, tries to help Indian women move beyond their roles as “money-managers” at home to “finance-managers”. It explains how to balance relationships and societal expectations with money. This it does by taking you through different situations in different roles that a woman plays in her life; as a daughter, sister, a bride, wife, a professional, mother, mother-in-law and so on. The theories are all sound grandma’s advice, presented through real-life stories and anecdotes, making them more believable.
Except that the author overdoes it. At a lot of places, the narrative tends to branch out to totally irrelevant topics. After a while you start wondering whether you are reading a book that tells you how to handle finances or a book that talks about the malpractices in society at large. Dowry, abuse, domestic violence, managing spoilt kids, challenges of being a single woman (not in terms of money) – they all find a place in the book. The acceptance of patriarchy and the casual reference to it at many places is also disturbing. For instance, the book seems to question, nay berate, the unemployed status of men but accepts an unemployed woman as normal, which sounds a bit hypocritical to me.
The book could have been really useful with some real tips on managing money, organising finances to take you through different events in life (marriage, childbirth, entrepreneurship, etc.), handling investments, and also, a crisper narrative. But it disappoints in the sense that by the end of the book, you are no wiser. It feels like you have just revised the tips your mother and grandmother gave you about managing money and relations since childhood. If you’re just looking for something light to read, then this is a good book for you.
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