The 35¢ Dowry

Fiction - Literary
403 Pages
Reviewed on 02/23/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Maryvonne is French and grew up in Paris. After studying classical Indian dancing and music in India for five years, she taught in the ethnomusicology departments at Wesleyan University and UCLA. While teaching Indian music, Maryvonne discovered a taste for rock-and-roll, taught herself to play the electric bass, and exchanged her saris for platform boots.
Her daughter, born in New York, empowers children through the arts, one project at a time. Her husband is American and a talented recording artist who brought two sons and a delightful hybrid wolf puppy into her life. They live in Hollywood, where Maryvonne shares her time between writing, playing the bass and enjoying her growing American family. After twelve very special years, BareWolf passed on. She now has two cats.

Maryvonne has published short stories and has translated several novels and screenplays to be optioned for movies. She’s currently finishing a sequel to The 35¢ Dowry, in which Minouche discovers the overwhelming beauty of India, but also its darker side, as she wrestles with the challenge of being married and mastering India’s sacred dance and music.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Teresa Syms for Readers' Favorite

Maryvonne Fent’s The 35₵ Dowry highlights the difficult childhood of Minouche, a young French girl whose early life was shrouded in violence, abuse, poverty and undying love for her mother. Minouche dreams of travel, education, and love, which all seemed just slightly out of reach until she meets Stefan at a party. He is a stateless Polish refugee who has plans of pursuing his philosophy degree in India. Despite the dread of separation hanging over them, the two fall deeply in love. It is a love that is challenged after Stefan leaves Paris for India and Minouche is left behind. Now she is desperate to find ways to earn enough money to follow him and be with him forever. She knows in her heart they are meant for each other after she wished upon a shooting star one evening in France. In the meantime, she struggles with school, jobs, and life without Stefan. In the background are an ever-present dark cloud and the threat that her mother’s husband will find them and kill them.

The 35₵ Dowry by Maryvonne Fent is a heartwarming book that sheds light on the raw struggles of a young woman, Minouche, living on the edge of poverty in 1950s Paris. Minouche has dreams, plans and an unyielding strength and courage that the author clearly highlights as the story progresses. Minouche is fearless. Once she meets Stefan, her life is forever changed. She is willing to travel to the ends of the world to be with him. Her journey to finally be with Stefan is amazing, highlighting many cultural differences. When she arrives in India, Minouche’s courage is finally shaken. How will she respond to Stefan’s surprise plans? I found The 35₵ Dowry captivating, spellbinding and a beautifully romantic love story. Fent writes a lovely story that embraces the reader and draws them in. This book was difficult to put down. If I wasn’t reading the story, I was thinking about it. Maryvonne Fent, you are a solid, creative author, and I look forward to reading more of your work.

K.C. Finn

The 35¢ Dowry is a work of literary fiction penned by author Maryvonne Fent which explores recent historical fiction from a unique cultural perspective. The story focuses on the central protagonist Minouche, who meets the love of her life when she is eighteen. Her beloved, Polish student Stefan, desires to visit India and learn of its many cultural teachings, and Minouche is desperate to follow him. But this is the Europe of the 1950s when poverty rules in the wake of wartime and dreams are harder than ever to fulfill. So begins a tale of romance and the pursuit of true happiness and enlightenment.

Author Maryvonne Fent has created a timeless classic which feels both historically accurate and modernly literate all at once. The narrative is of a high quality indeed, painting gorgeous imagery and capturing the atmosphere of both the period itself and its sense of austerity and bleakness in the shadow of World War 2. Minouche is a ray of light amongst this gloom, finding moments of beauty and surprise wherever she goes and becoming more and more determined to fill her life with the light and colors that she feels deprived of. A true heroine that all readers can empathize with, this intimate portrayal of a young woman with big dreams will speak to the hearts of modern audiences and nostalgic readers alike. Overall, The 35¢ Dowry presents high-quality writing alongside intuitive character portrayals and a solid, slow-burning plot with all the intricacies of its historical wisdom on display.

Lesley Jones

In The 35¢ Dowry by Maryvonne Fent, in post-war Paris, young Minouche listens to another brutal attack by her step-father against her mother. They finally escape and begin a new life where Minouche gradually learns the importance of family and friendship. When Minouche is 18 years old, she meets and falls in love with Stefan, a Polish immigrant, who longs to travel to Madras University and study Hindu philosophy. When Stefan leaves for India, Minouche decides to follow him, but with little money. Minouche decides to take drastic action to be reunited with her true love. As she is about to leave on the long boat journey, Minouche receives unexpected news from Stefan. Will she chase her dream of a life with her beloved Stefan in Madras and will he be there to meet her?

The 35¢ Dowry by Maryvonne Fent is true escapism. I loved Minouche; what a sensitive, thoughtful but strong-minded character. The relationship she had with her mother was beautiful, supportive and loving. I loved to see her character develop and her confidence slowly grow as the story progressed. Each character that was introduced was very credible and their behavior and dialogue spoke volumes about their values. There are some very interesting references to immigration and the reasons people settled in certain countries. The moment Minouche arrives in India, the story lights up with a colorful narrative and really transports readers into a dynamic and culturally different country. This story has some touching moments but also some very dark ones, especially from Minouche's step-father. There are many unanswered questions and characters that I want to see more of, such as Bernard and Babula, so I cannot wait for the sequel, Mango Blood.

Rabia Tanveer

The 35¢ Dowry by Maryvonne Fent is the coming of age story of a young girl as she finds out that chasing love helps her find herself. Minouche was 18 years old when she met Stefan, a Polish student obsessed with spiritual enlightenment and looking forward to going to India. She falls for him hard and the more time she spends with him, the more she realizes that she hasn’t truly been living her life. So when he leaves, she knows she will have to do something to get to him. If it means leaving Paris and going to India, she will do it! So this is exactly what she does. She packs her bags and starts on a journey to get to the man she loves. However, she has no idea that in making the journey to India, she is on a journey to find herself and what she is made of.

Oh boy, the imagery and descriptions in The 35¢ Dowry by Maryvonne Fent are so beautiful. I felt like I was there in the moment with Minouche at all times, I was living her life with her and experiencing everything on her incredible journey. Minouche is an incredible, one-of-a-kind character; she is smart yet she is a little airy at the same time. But she grew on her journey and she became a person that you would be proud to call a friend. The descriptions of both Paris and India are so real and believable; you will feel like you have been to those places too. I enjoyed how Minouche reacted, developed and understood her worth, got a better understanding of herself and who she was as a person. This is a refreshing and relaxing story. I loved it!

Romuald Dzemo

The 35¢ Dowry by Maryvonne Fent is an engrossing literary fiction novel with strong hints of romance. Minouche is an eighteen-year-old who has had a difficult childhood and has learned to grow up quickly for her mother. She detests the harsh conditions of life in Paris with a stepfather who abuses her mother. She is determined to create a better life for herself, so when she meets Stefan, a charismatic Polish student with dreams of visiting India and completing his philosophy degree in Madras, she is thrilled. The connection between the two young souls deepens into love, but soon — with a grant — Stefan leaves for India. Now new plans take root in the heart of the young woman, as she is determined to travel to India to meet her lover. Can she find the means to travel to India and if she does, will Stefan be the same man she’s known?

Love, adventure, and travel during a difficult time in the 1950s are among the themes that are beautifully developed in this novel. The prose is tight and gorgeous, impregnated with a musicality that flows from the author’s unique way of creating phrases and allowing them to capture the drama. The descriptions of locales, experiences, scenes, and streams of consciousness are terrific. From the very opening part of the novel, I liked the young female protagonist and felt that she’s a character who will develop into a strong personality. The reader is quickly introduced to her world and to the hardships of her life especially the difficult relationship with her stepfather. Maryvonne Fent does an impeccable job in creating characters that are strong and I enjoyed how the author uses motivation in building Minouche. This is a great and enjoyable read, with strong plot points and memorable characters.