Loving and Leaving Ceylon

‘I would rather not be engaged. When people are engaged, they begin to think of being married soon, and I should like everything to go on for a long while just as it is.’

For connoisseurs of George Eliot, the above quote summons The Mill on the Floss to mind; for lovers of Shyam Selvadurai, the parallels between the two novels are noticeable.

I am ashamed to admit that I have read but one, and having impressed upon a dear friend over lunch to read Cinnamon Gardens, the reciprocal plea has been to read its forerunner.

Victoria Arcade, Colombo, Ceylon, 1920s via LankapuraIt was with regret and relief that I left Ceylon this morning: regret for a great novel concluded and relief that it will no longer call me from daily tasks.

From the pages on which I last expounded, Selvadurai excelled to new heights of sumptuous story-telling, drawing the reader deeper into the lives and thoughts of his characters.

To shy away from gushing, but two (quasi)gripes must be put forth: a personal favourite among the families, Manohari is a sadly absent character – her dry wit and silliness brings to mind Lydia Bennett, sans scandal.

Providing a neat comic foil, she frequently receives an ear-boxing and leaves one with the regret that she did not feature more frequently.

Lastly, the twist of an ending is unique and we must love it for that.

But I would be a liar if I did not concede that I scowled in disappointment at…

… and so onto Half a Life, by V. S. Naipaul.

Yes, Hilary, you shall remain on the shelf, again.

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This entry was posted on April 4, 2013 by in Asia, Books and tagged , , , , , , , .
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