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Cinnamon Gardens [Kindle Edition]

Shyam Selvadurai
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Selvadurai has captured horrifyingly well the airlessness of a society in which only a few are truly able to breathe, and deeply' Mary Loudon, The Times



In Shyam Selvadurai's masterful second novel, set in repressive and complex 1920s Ceylon, the Cinnamon Gardens is a residential enclave of wealthy Ceylonese. Among them is Annalukshmi, an independent and high-spirited young teacher intent on thwarting her parents' plans to arrange her marriage. In a parallel narrative, her uncle, Balendran Navaratnam, respectably married but secretly homosexual, has his life disrupted by the arrival in Ceylon of Richard, a lover from long ago.



'Richly rewarding . . . this is, in many ways, an old-fashioned novel, brimming with old-fashioned virtues. The characters and setting are established in a measured, finely judged manner, allowing us to feel at home with them. Annalukshmi's Jane Austen-ish domestic life -- anxious mother, bossy aunt, catty sisters, endless talk of prospective husbands -- is brought to life with glancing humour. Not least of the novel's virtues is the way he seems to conjure up a whole social panorama. With its vivid evocation of time and place, its wise characterisation, its involving emotional dramas, this is a novel that deserves, and will surely gain, a wide readership' Adam Lively, Sunday Times



'Subtle and deeply humane . . . a fine novel that is both delicately written and very, very wise . . . Selvadurai has established himself firmly as an important chronicler of the complexities of social and cultural difference' Books in Canada



'This is a distinctive voice and the author is a talent to be reckoned with' Telegraph, India



Product Description

Review

"'Selvadurai has captured horrifyingly well the airlessness of a society in which only a few are truly able to breathe, and deeply' Mary Loudon, The Times" "'Richly rewarding...Not least of the novel's virtues is the way he seems to conjure up a whole social panorama. With its vivid evocation of time and place, its wise characterisation, its involving emotional dramas, this is a novel that deserves, and will surely gain, a wide readership' Adam Lively, Sunday Times" "'Subtle and deeply humane...a fine novel that is both delicately written and very, very wise...Selvadurai has established himself firmly as an important chronicler of the complexities of social and cultural difference' Books in Canada"

From the Back Cover

In Shyam Selvadurai's masterful second novel, set in 1920s Ceylon, the Cinnamon Gardens is a residential enclave of wealthy Ceylonese. Among them is Annalukshmi, an independent and high-spirited young teacher intent on thwarting her parents' plans to arrange her marriage. In a parallel narrative, her uncle, Balendran Navaratnam, respectably married but secretly homosexual, has his life disrupted by the arrival in Ceylon of Richard, a lover from long ago.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 522 KB
  • Print Length: 374 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0156013282
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital; New edition edition (11 Jan. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004H1T7XO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #162,169 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly insightful! 5 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is one book that you would want to own. Anyone that has an insight into Sri-Lankan culture will find this book funny, witty and thought-provoking. From the tyrannies of the elders to the hypocrises of the community - set in the 1920's - it is hard to believe that so much of that depicted still goes on today... The frequent use of the Tamil language makes this a must-read for anyone who not only knows or understands some Tamil - but for those who have only experienced Indian settings and languages and have little insight into Tamil ways. This book certainly deserves a larger readership, and I have recommended it to my family and friends. Brilliant!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Erastes
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
From the blurb: ...Cinnamon Gardens is a residential enclave of wealthy Ceylonese. Among them is Annalukshmi, an independent and high-spirited young teacher intent on thwarting her parents' plans to arrange her marriage. In a parallel narrative, her uncle, Balendran Navaratnam, respectably married but secretly homosexual, has his life disrupted by the arrival in Ceylon of Richard, a lover from long ago.
...................

I found this a fascinating read, partly because I had only just finished "Burmese Days" by George Orwell and the parallels are easy to see, even though it was obvious that they come from completely different directions. Both books deal with the English Raj - one in Burma, one in Ceylon - but one is written from the point of view of the priviledged and ruling whites, whilst Cinnamon Gardens is written from the point of the view of the privileged native population of Ceylon.

I knew next to nothing about Ceylon (this is set in the late 1920's) and the insight that Selvadurai gives is like looking through a plate glass window into a world that none of us will ever know - like Mitchell's land of knights and ladies, this is a another culture that is gone with the wind. However, although the blurb went on to say that it was a world where no-one can breathe freely, I didn't really get an overwhelming sense of that, I was never really convinced that any of the characters (save for Belandran whose "face" is tremendous against the weight of love, responsibility, duty and family) were crushed and overwhelmed by position, caste or race. Not even the orthodox wives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling 20 May 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
It's the 1920's of Sri Lanka at its finest. Its the kind of book that will make you wish you were born a century earlier. Its the kind of book that will make you think, wish and wonder at the outcome. I couldn't put Cinnamon Gardens down. The wonderful flow of words, thuoghts and phrases made it real, in every sense of the word. Selvadurai's keen interest and complete research is evident throughout. The title itself is gripping, especially to a Sri Lankan. As one the oldest areas in Sri Lanka Cinnamon Gardens is hidden from the rest of the world. What goes on within its boundaries is known only to those who live within it. Selvadurai has dealt with this aspect almost as though he were there. It's compelling, its thought provoking and worth a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as edgy as I thought it could be 9 Jan. 2008
By Erastes
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found this a fascinating read, partly because I had only just finished "Burmese Days" by George Orwell and the parallels are easy to see, even though it was obvious that they come from completely different directions. Both books deal with the English Raj - one in Burma, one in Ceylon - but one is written from the point of view of the priviledged and ruling whites, whilst Cinnamon Gardens is written from the point of the view of the privileged native population of Ceylon.

I knew next to nothing about Ceylon (this is set in the late 1920's) and the insight that Selvadurai gives is like looking through a plate glass window into a world that none of us will ever know - like Mitchell's land of knights and ladies, this is a another culture that is gone with the wind. However, although the blurb went on to say that it was a world where no-one can breathe freely, I didn't really get an overwhelming sense of that, I was never really convinced that any of the characters (save for Belandran whose "face" is tremendous against the weight of love, responsibility, duty and family) were crushed and overwhelmed by position, caste or race. Not even the orthodox wives.

It seems from what I learned along the journey that the wealthy Ceylon of this time (for you don't see the poverty in this book, the POV is purely from two rich people) were more racially integrated than I had seen in books dealing with other Asian countries; they intermarried with whites, and set themselves up as English, becoming Christian in many cases and changing their names to English names. In some instances the characters are related - and are seemingly accepted by- English aristocracy. Belandran's wife visits a titled relative in England at one point.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This was one book that I couldn't put down. 1 Sept. 2000
Format:Paperback
Selvadurai's second novel is much more enjoyable than his first. Set against a crucial historical background, the characters find themselves in midst of political, social, and personal changes and the novel depicts their struggles against these.
Selvadurai's particular attention to detail adds to the understanding and enjoyment of the story and the way he explores all types of relationships was moving.
I look forward to reading more of his books - he certainly is one to watch out for...
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