Saturday, May 24, 2008

Love Marriage by V.V. Ganeshananthan

I received Love Marriage from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. The book started out strong, and I was sure I would give it at least 4 stars, even halfway through the book. But after finishing it, I think I have to give it 3.5 stars. Here's why.

Ganeshananthan has a beautiful writing style, very mature for such a young writer (by my calculations, she's about 28). But the story jumps around too much. First it was just that it would jump from the narrator's present or recent past, to her family's past (early 80s), telling a part of different family members' histories. It was easy to tell who was being talked about, as most sections started with the name of the family member being discussed in that section, but sometimes it was hard to remember whose side of the family the particular family member was on (the inclusion of a family tree at the beginning was helpful in this aspect). But later on the narrator would literally switch from one paragraph to the next (this happened in a couple of spots where, I guess, Yalini would introduce a part of her uncle's story, and the narration would continue as if he were telling the story). This caused confusion several times and made it hard for me to focus on the story.

What did I like about the book? I learned more about Sri Lanka than I have ever known. I knew nothing about the ethnic tensions there, and nothing about the Tamil Tigers. I learned a lot about the Hindu marriage and funeral rituals, which was very interesting. But overall, the story left me feeling unfulfilled. Would I recommend it? Yes, I would. I enjoyed the book and feel that it is a very good first book by Ganeshananthan.

Other reviews:
Aarti at Booklust


Aarti said...

I think I assumed she was 25 because she and I were born in the same year. I didn't think that the action was taking place right after the tsunami, though. I thought it was taking place after that. I am not sure exactly what the timeline for the book was.

In any case, I don't think many people in their 20s think or write in that manner, unless it is very studied and practiced. I personally didn't find it very natural.

Somer said...

I agree with you. It didn't seem natural. And you're also right about the timeline - it didn't feel like the action was so soon after the tsunami, but then that doesn't mesh with the other information we're given about Yalini's age. I think possibly that's a flaw on Ganeshananthan's part.