Reviewed for You.
I love books. There are so many great books I would like to review for you. Most of them because I think they could help you in one way or another on your journey. Books are one of my passions. I love books and have read so many great books over the past 40 years or so. But my dilemma was which ones to recommend. The thing is I no longer have the majority of those books. I love having my books around me; they are definitely one of the things I collect, (besides shoes and bags but I know I am not alone here – Anyone share this “hobby”?) However before I left Germany some four years ago, I gave away most of my awesome collection. Of course now I wish I had kept some of those books but I am not going to get into a regret mode.
Old Books, New Books, Collectors Items.
So I decided to tell you about one of the newer books I read, one which made a great impression on me. It was one of those books which left me with that empty feeling we have when we get to the end of a great book, you know the one I mean? Today I want to tell you about a wonderful book I was actually sad to finish, written by a brilliant young lady:
I introduce and proudly present:
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things ( 1997) – Book Review
Product: Book in the Family Drama and Literary Fiction genres
Price: From $5 US upwards for the paperback version
Author: Arundhati Roy. It was her first novel and she received the 1997 Booker Prize for fiction.
Who is this book suitable for?
I think this book is suitable for anyone with an open mind, wanting to enjoy a good novel but also interested in history. If you or the person you want to gift this book to are also interested in interpersonal relationships and the effects of socio-political systems this book is for you. And even if you are only looking for a good novel to relax with on holiday this is one for you too.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The narrative is set in Ayemenem, Kerala, India in December 1969 and June 1993. The main event around which the story evolves took place in 1969. We already know at the beginning of the book what happened then. The complete story is unraveled and revealed through a series of complex yet captivating flashbacks. They take us back from 1993 where we meet two of the protagonists as adults to 1969 and further, when Esther and Rahel are seven and meet their cousin Sophie Mol. The twins are very close, in fact so close that they know each other’s thoughts and feelings even without having spoken about them.
On one level the story seems to be a simple one apparently revolving around the death of Sophie Mol. But although this “character” dominates the background of the story, we only actually get to meet her very briefly. On another level, we get many insights into the thought processes and backgrounds of many of the other characters. This complicates the plot and makes it more complex than just about Sophie Mol’s death and the way in which the family falls apart as a result.
Who is telling the story?
The story is told largely from Rahel’s perspective but she is not the narrator; the author pops in and out. It becomes clear that Rahel can not be the narrator as we are allowed glimpses into areas of the characters lives that only those characters know of. The narrative is also given from the perspective of other characters. Arundhati Roy has a fascinating way in which she makes us privy to the psyche of each of the protagonists, allowing us to witness the dramatic effects of Sophie’s death on each individual family member as well as on the family as a whole. I personally felt closer or more distanced to certain characters through having this “inside” information.
I think this is one of the strengths of the novel and one of the things I found particularly fascinating. Even though only those characters reveal these morsels of information to us the author still ties it up by providing us with background information on the other characters significant to the story’s outcome. If this were missing we would have finished the book with a very different impression of what happened. The book would have lost some of its interest too in my view.
Another aspect which makes The God of Small Things stand out is the beautiful and unique use of language. Her narrative is often childlike without being childish. For example she uses this sort of language to describe events which an adult would rate serious. Also the differences in the children’s view of what reality is as opposed to that of the adults is often quite funny. I think this is a clever way of showing how those same events affect the children culminating in very dramatic changes to their lives.
This superbly written book which spans three generations with very different socio-political views. These varying views provide us with historical information on the political and social changes taking place in India at that time. Interesting and informative at the same time.
Some of the symbolism in the story might only become apparent on a second reading as it is quite subtle. For example the Title – Who is the God of small things? This appears to refer to Velutha, the secret lover of the children’s mother, Ammu. The significance of the small things seems to be that it is a series of seemingly minor events (small things) which add up and result in the deaths of Sophie and Velutha.
I thought the symbolism of time not moving throughout the story interesting. One example is with Rahel’s watch which has the time drawn on it so time never moves. We find this symbolism again in the pickle factory, where Mammachi preserves her pickles and jams to keep them in the same state.
The End? Not really!
The book ends but it is not the end of the story. There is a question mark about how the lives of Esther and Rahel will continue. At the end we meet the twins as adults meeting up again after 23 years. (Both 31, the same age at which their mother died). In the time following Sophie and Velutha’s deaths, they had to deal with the events, emotions, consequences in their separate ways and separated from each other. How are their lives to continue now?
There are other unanswered questions. For example about one of the central themes of this book- what is allowed and what not? Who can love who? Who determines what is permissible? Is punishment always justified if you go against the rules of the society?
One of the other questions I took away was whether things just happen or whether things are predestined. What do you think?
This is one of those books you will not want to put down and which captivates the reader’s attention. I became completely immersed in this book and was really sorry when I got to the end. It provided me with many thought provoking moments which occupied my attention beyond the end of the book. I also enjoyed the fact that the author made use of different styles in the narrative.
There was one thing I did not like much. At times the narrative was long winded and the author could have been said the same thing with fewer words. But that does not detract from my overall view that Arundhati Roy turned out an excellently written book.
Are you looking for a book which will fascinate and captivate you? Or maybe as a gift for someone who likes to read? Well, The God of Small Things fits both categories.
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