Title: A Disobedient Girl
Author: Ru Freeman
Release Date: July 21, 2009
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
Set against the volatile events of the last forty years of Sri Lankan history, A Disobedient Girl traces the lives of three characters whose interwoven fates and histories force them to answer life’s most difficult questions. Beautiful, haunting, alive, and brimming with truth, it is, above all, a novel about extraordinary circumstances that change life in an instant and the power of love to transcend time and place.
The story begins with two little girls, mistress and servant, one with every luxury and opportunity that money can buy and the other with nothing but her yearning for a better life. Together, they grow up bound by love, betrayal, resentment, and an impossible secret.
Then there is Biso, a devoted mother of three, who risks everything to escape from the hands of her tyrannical husband. But her journey, which begins with such hope, takes her on a disastrous path that ultimately leads her to give her life over to strangers she never imagined she would have reason to know, binding her story with that of the girls in the most unexpected and heartbreaking of ways.
A Disobedient Girl is a compelling exploration of personal desire set against the volatile backdrop of class and prejudice, as three women journey toward their future, united by a shared history but separated by different fates. A bold and deeply moving account that spans three decades of love and loss, it is a tale about the will to survive and the incredible power of the human spirit to transcend the unforgiving sweep of tragedy.
A Disobedient Girl is a well-written novel about life and servitude in modern day Sri Lanka. The majority of the novel seemed to be a commentary on class in Sri Lanka – whether you are master or servant is merely an accident of birth. Latha, the servant girl, is forced to watch her master’s daughter, Thara, get everything she wants out of life. Latha has few options or choices, and when she finally decides to make her fate her own, there are disastrous consequences.
The writing in A Disobedient Girl is very well done. Freeman is a talented writer who really makes Sri Lanka come alive for the reader. Her writing is descriptive enough to where the reader can close their eyes and imagine the scene. It works very well for a novel such as this.
However, I also had some problems with A Disobedient Girl. Latha was a difficult character to like. I feel like one of the major goals of the novel was to make people see her and sympathize with her plight as a servant. However, I had trouble understanding some of her poor decisions, and while I definitely had sympathy for her situation, I never came the like the actual person. Also, the majority of the novel centers on Latha, so the parts narrated by Biso are somewhat jarring. I don’t feel like the reader gets to know her at all.
I also wish this novel had taught the reader more about Sri Lankan history. While there are some mentions of politics, it is clear that the reader has to already be familiar with the history of the country in order to understand what is going on. While it was an interesting social commentary, I don’t really feel like I followed what was going on in the background enough to learn anything new.
While A Disobedient Girl was an interesting read, its flaws kept it from being a really compelling novel. Still, I look forward to seeing what Ru Freeman does next – she has a lot of potential!
Thank you to the Amazon Vine program for providing me the opportunity to review this book.