You might think this is yet another novel set in England during World War 11 and read no further. But don’t be fooled. This is a tale like no other I’ve read before, full of humour with an odd and dubious list of characters.
Ten-year-old Noel lives with his aging godmother until she dies, when he’s sent as an evacuee outside of London. There he’s paired with Vee, a single mother who is struggling to keep a roof over her head for herself, her helpless mother, and useless son, Donald. Nineteen-year-old Donald has a heart condition and can’t join up, but soon discovers an illegal way to make large sums of cash that he doesn’t share with his mother. Vee keeps failing at schemes to make money until she realizes that Noel isn’t the empty headed child she though he was. This well written novel is full of tongue-in-cheek laughs.
I remember Mary as the Bennett sister who couldn’t sing, but twenty years on from the end of Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary’s life continues. In her desperation for independence, she investigates the plight of the English poor only to find herself in danger.
I wasn’t expecting this to be an engaging tale, but I should have known better because this Australian author has never disappointed me—a book I couldn’t put down when I needed a light read.
On Valmorain’s arrival from France, he finds he is responsible for the sugar cane plantation on the island of Saint-Domingue at his father’s death.He purchases nine-year-old Tété who soon learns to manage his house. In her teenage years, he rapes her and uses her as his concubine. When he removes their first-born child, Tété’s life couldn’t be worse. With a slave rebellion in site, Tété’s moves Valmorain’s son from his first wife to New Orleans.
This historical fiction set in Haiti during the slave trading era held a mixture of points of view: from plantation owners to the slaves who practised voodoo and tried to maintain their African roots.
Yasodhara marries Sidhartha and hopes for a union like her parents, loving and caring, along with the comforts after she moves to her father-in-law’s palace. But Sidhartha’s father, the Raja, has always despised his son because he blames him for the loss of his beloved wife when she gave birth to Sidhartha. Full of hatred, he posts his son as governor to a remote northern village where they are given a small hut, where there is no servant, and Yasodhara must tend to a rice paddy field and vegetable garden, so they have food for the winter. But while Yasodhara soon finds joy in these tasks among the camaraderie of the village women, Sidhartha becomes moody and withdrawn and his interest in the philosophy of the ascetics deepens.
This is a story of The Buddha’s wife and how she tried to hang on to her marriage until her husband finally deserted her and their only son to follow what he termed, the middle path. I have read all of Selvadaurai’s novels and this is by far his best.