Love Marriage by V.V. Ganeshananthan

9781400066698Love Marriage was certainly a solid first novel. Ganeshananthan explores not only the life of a young Sri Lankan woman living in America, but also the lives of several generations of her family and the history of her country.

One thing I enjoyed about this novel was the structure. Ganeshananthan focuses each section on a certain character and their ancestors, so that the reader discovers much more about them. All of this background (which is detailed, but not overwhelming) builds up to great character development. Her attention to detail and ability to create such a diverse cast of characters is impressive. Each section is like a vignette, and to see how they all tie together to become part of who the narrator is is fantastic.

This novel also taught me a great deal about Sri Lanka and the customs of its people. I knew very little about the country before picking it up, and I enjoyed learning so much. The descriptions of marriage and funeral rituals were especially well-written and interesting.

I did feel a bit let down by the ending of the novel. I anticipated something much more climactic. I was also a little thrown off by a section close to the end where the narrator (Yalini) tells the reader about her body image, etc…I felt like it came too late in the novel. Her character was already so well developed, and there was very little sense that she was so obsessive about some of things she mentions in this section – it was like a curveball that forced me to reevaluate what I knew of her as a character. If this section was moved up to an earlier point in the novel it would make much more sense structurally and in terms of character development.

Overall, a very intriguing and informative read. I would definitely recommend it.

*Review of ARC

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Daughters of the North by Sarah Hall

510Fv8Xm8GLThis novel was ok, but I felt a little let down – I was expecting much better from an author shortlisted for the Booker, although maybe my expectations were part of the problem.

It started off well, and the concept of the dystopian society she creates is intriguing and a bit frightening. Some of the events and ideas, like the contraceptive coils, make you think about where society may be heading. Overall, Hall writes well, but I found myself a little bored with her descriptions. There are scenes where she definitely suffers from telling-instead-of-showing-syndrome. I just couldn’t really bring myself to care very much about the protagonist, Sister, or really any of the other characters.

The ending was pretty anti-climactic, and felt like a cop-out – you’ll see what I mean when you get there. Overall it wasn’t very powerful, which is something I would expect from a dystopian novel like this. I anticipated something really thought-provoking that would have me lying awake the next three nights thinking about it, but this one just didn’t do it. It starts off strong, but loses is punch along the way.