Where I Bought : Sunmag Book Fair
Price : RM10
Rating : 4/5 stars
This is a book that requires perseverance. The story builds up slowly like a flower blossoming in slow motion, reaching its full bloom nearing the closure.
This is a book that requires thinking. The characters, events are wrapped in Indian terms and metaphors like onions, to be peeled layer by layer revealing messages and truth.
It begins with members of a family attending the church funeral of a little girl named Sophie Mol. Among them are two young fraternal twins, the main characters Rahel and Estha. Their story is told out of chronological order in two timeline, one when they’re young, the other when they’re adults.
Although the events flipped between past and present, the author spent much thought to fit each timeline in perfectly, clinching all the pieces together to form a story with such web of complexity and yet it didn’t confuse the reader.
How Sophie died is the main hook drawing me in. There were few times when I was demotivated to continue where I left off because I felt the beginning of the book dragged on a little. Somehow persistence and patience paid off, in the end I couldn’t put away the book as the story developed. It was after completing the book that I comprehended the slow beginning at the start is necessary to converge reader’s thoughts and attention to the climax of the story.
Hints of colonial traces are close to heart because my country was once under the same colonial ruling. The dry and monsoon season are familiar because our climate is similar. The author painted these scenes with beautiful choice of words.
This is my favourite description of India’s hot weather:
The sky was orange, and the coconut trees were sea anemones waving their tentacles, hoping to trap and eat an unsuspecting cloud.
And my favourite description of rainy days, truly beautiful:
It was midmorning and about to rain again. The green — in the last moments of that strange, glowing, preshower light — was fierce.
I find the author’s personification of nature quite adorable:
The train was gone so quickly that it was hard to imagine that everybody had waited so long for so little. The yam leaves continued to nod long after the train had gone, as though they agreed with it entirely and had no doubts at all.
But reality is not all beautiful. There are many thought provoking scenes which I shall not reveal more. By reading this book, one learns the Indian history and caste system. Themes presenting consequences of crossing social boundaries and harsh realities of social discrimination — all in one — it’s a dark novel.
I highly recommend this book if you’re interested in Asian historical literature, albeit the gloomy mood of the story it was fused with poignant prose and reality penned down with art.