Friday, May 17, 2013

A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman

Sri Lankan author Ru Freeman's A Disobedient Girl takes place in two different time periods during the bitter civil war in her home country. Alternating storylines eventually entwine into a single satisfying conclusion.

One centers on a mistress and servant relationship in Colombo. Latha and Thara, two girls the same age, have been friends since Latha, an orphan, was brought at age 4 into Thara's family home to be a servant. As the girls grow into their teens, the inherent inequity of their situation causes friction.

The other storyline centers on Biso, a mother escaping from her abusive husband, travelling with her three young children from the south of the island to relatives in the hill country.

I spent four months in Sri Lanka when I was 18. Freeman's atmospheric details brought back fond memories of milk rice, wood apples, king coconuts, string hoppers and spicy sambols. The dome-shaped dagoba shrines, sacred offerings of flowers and incense, and Buddhist celebrations held every full moon. The astounding beauty of this tropical island, which I last saw in 1979... which was before violence devastated so many people's lives there.

The war stays very much in the background in A Disobedient Girl. This fascinating character-driven novel is about love and betrayal, tragedy and redemption. Very rewarding.
Canada World Youth Sri Lanka exchange 1978/1979.
I'm in the middle in the bottom row.

1 comment: said...

Hi Linda, I stumbled onto your sight by accident, while looking for anything to do with 1978 and SriLanka! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw our group photo taken in Avisawela on my 19th birthday Jan. 29, 1979! I too have the fondest memories of a completely magical experience, in an absolutely amazing Island culture. Wondering who I am yet? I'm at the bottom left of photo, next to Nakeem and below Roger!. Linda I lost that photo over 20 years ago, it Brings me to tears to see that photo again! Thank you

Michael Lake