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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wow! a step outside your world
wow what more can I say, I come from small town on a small island and have no idea of other cultures. I picked up the book purely because I was moving house and would be out of work for a week or two. The book was finished in 3 days and my whole perception of the world has widened.

The way the family worked together with each of there ideals and personalities...
Published on 29 April 2006 by Miss J. Smyth

versus
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good
An enjoyable book and compelling. It is split into several parts and each part covers a different generation. The strength of this book lies within the first and second part where you learn about the rice mother's different children and their different characters. The characters are enchanting and often seem as if drawn from myths.

The weakness in this book is...
Published on 24 July 2006 by Clear Smith


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wow! a step outside your world, 29 April 2006
By 
Miss J. Smyth "Jan xx" (Isle of Man) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rice Mother (Paperback)
wow what more can I say, I come from small town on a small island and have no idea of other cultures. I picked up the book purely because I was moving house and would be out of work for a week or two. The book was finished in 3 days and my whole perception of the world has widened.

The way the family worked together with each of there ideals and personalities was fantasticly woven and the way they dealt with one major incident was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

brilliant book i look forward to reading more from this author
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars was almost one of my favourite books...., 3 Nov 2003
This review is from: The Rice Mother (Paperback)
I started this book and immediately warmed to it. The use of language was beautiful and I couldn't put it down. I was disappointed however by the way the book descended into Danielle Steel/Jackie Collins territory close to the end. This marred my feelings for the wonderful beginning...was close to getting my 5 stars but not quite.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rice Mother, 4 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Rice Mother (Paperback)
Cannot see the point, for the most part, of Joe Bloggs reviewing a book. You know nothing of my taste, and I know nothing of yours - so how can it help you if I tell you that I thought this book was splendid - which I did. A compelling read from the start and sad to put it down at the end.
As a piece of classic literature, I might not place this in my top 50, but for a great read, a touching, bitter sweet, galling and thought provoking tale - it is hard to beat. A great holiday book.
A charming and unusual voice unfolds the story for us in a uniquely eastern, lyrical way.
So you know the things which appeal to me: recent reads were 'The Lovely Bones' (fabulously written) 5/5, The shipping News 3/5, The Fingersmith 4/5, The death of Mr Love 3/5. Favourite authors include George Orwell, M Peake, Tolkein. Hope this helps you to judge whether you might like the same things that appeal to me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, exotic read, 5 Jun 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Rice Mother (Paperback)
This is a stunning first novel from Rani Manicka. Beautifully written, with wonderful, evocative imagery and some mouthwatering descriptions of food!! The characters are well-developed and all have interesting quirks of their own.
Be prepared to get totally sucked in to this family's world of tragedy, tears and trauma!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad but good, 8 Mar 2006
This review is from: The Rice Mother (Paperback)
This book starts off in this wonderful scenery, and little does one know of the sadness that it will evoke throughout the pages, as the generations speed along. Each generation brings with it terrible events that take their toll on the characters' psyche. I wonder if the author felt really depressed while writing this book because there are times when it all seems so devastating that things seem they will never get better. Each and every character is unique and lovable in his or her own way. The story is interesting but brings you the blues once you've read it. Nevertheless this is a talented author able to create a wonderful plot with worthile characters, people we will feel knowing so very well through their drama.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exotic Escapism, 11 Jan 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Rice Mother (Hardcover)
Rani Manicka's first novel is a rich and captivating display of culture, immense tragedy and disguised love. The book holds and alluring, somewhat magical aura through its integration of Hindu culture and mysticism - the reader enters another world.
The story begins in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and focuses on Lakshmi, a fourteen year old girl married off to a man many years her senior and promised luxury in his Malaysian home. Upon her arrival in Malaya Lakshmi is confronted with the first of many injustices to litter her life - her husband has lied and she lives in poverty. With the arrival of her six children the story unravels as Lakshmi struggles to sustain and protect her family through difficult circumstances. The book spans four generations and is told through the voices of the family members. As the family suffers through Japanese Occupation, rape, torture, gambling and an array of other hardships the reader is exposed to different viewpoints which provides insight and makes for a satisfying conclusion. The story is touching, if not utterly heart-wrenching in its portrayal of a family plagued by tragic unfairness and can be disturbing in its blunt frankness. However, an uplifting resolution is found in Lakshmi's great-granddaughter.
I found Rani Manicka's use of metaphors unique and striking: "hopes had painfully crashed on the rocks of life since then". Some would describe Manicka's writing as over-done possibly even flamboyant; other however (like myself) would call it endearingly expressive. My one criticism would be to note that some of the mystery revelations were over-explained, perhaps missing subtlety.
I highly recommend this book to saga-lovers as this saga has it all - love, tragedy, survival and an ending full of hope.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Exotic Family Saga, 13 Aug 2014
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Rice Mother (Paperback)
Rani Manicka's first novel is an ambitious family saga set in Malaysia and tracing the fortunes of four generations of women. The first narrator is Lakshmi, a striking and feisty Sri Lankan girl who leaves her village near Colombo to enter an arranged marriage with an older Indian man. Her first shock is to discover that her husband is 36 years old to her 16, her next, after the pair have married and left Sri Lanka for Malaysia, is to find out that she has been deceived - her husband Ayah is not the rich man she was promised, but a poor clerk. The disappointment is crushing, but Lakshmi soon realizes that her husband is at least kind, and tries to make the best of things. With a determination reminiscent of Lawrence's Mrs Morel in 'Sons and Lovers' she sets about organizing the family life - paying off her husband's debts with the help of a kindly relative, learning to cook his favourite dishes, keeping the house in good order and, in due course, working hard to raise their children. Lakshmi and Ayah have six children in all - the beautiful gifted twins Lakshnim and Mohini, the gentle Anna, Sevenese, who can see the future in dreams and finally Jehan and Lalita. These last two are Lakshmi's great disappointment - they are slow and plain compared to the other children. Nevertheless, Lakshmi is determined that all her children will do well - and she seems to be accomplishing her aims, until World War II breaks out, the Japanese invade, and the family, as Indians, are plunged into poverty and oppression. Ayah is briefly imprisoned and tortured by the Japanese, Mohini has to go into hiding to escape becoming a 'spoil of war' and the family learn to survive on very little. The nightmare appears to be ending by 1945 - but the Japanese have one terrible surprise for Lakshmi's family before they leave, which will affect the whole family for years. As different voices take over the story, we learn how each of the family in their different way are profoundly damaged by the war. One child becomes a gambler, another a drunk, two have unhappy marriages. And the pattern of tragedy continues in the next generation, when Lakshnim's daughter, who has inherited the beauty of her aunt, escapes her stormy mother by marrying a wealthy half-Chinese, half-Japanese businessman, who promises to treat her like a princess but turns out to have his own dark secrets. It is left to Lakshmi's great granddaughter Nisha to come to terms with the family history and to make sense of her relatives' troubled lives.

This novel starts splendidly, with a beautiful description of the child Lakshmi running wild, and continues to be extremely readable for about the first 350 pages, as we follow Lakshmi through marriage from her melancholy wedding day through some 18 years to the end of World War II. Manicka's prose is undoubtably overblown at times but its rich colours and perfumes are also rather attractive, and she brings to life the multi-racial community in Malaysia (then Malaya) very well. She also creates some very compelling characters, including the fierce matriarch Lakshmi and her gentle husband Ayah, the beautiful Mohini with her green eyes, the visionary Sevenese and the quiet, observant Anna, Raja the snake charmer, Lakshmi's gentle Chinese friend who becomes a 'bondmaid' for her master and, later, the mysterious Ratha, with her wonderful baking skills. For about two thirds of the book, while I found some of the writing a bit too florid, I was completely caught up in the family's story, almost as much as with Isabel Allende's amazing 'The House of the Spirits'. But then the story appeared to slightly run out of steam. The plot became increasingly unbelievable, and the new characters either stereotypically 'good' (like the angelic Dimple - a name that doesn't render well in translation) or 'bad' (like Dimple's nasty mother Rani). Some of the more balanced characters, such as Anna, disappeared altogether. Each chapter was a tale of terrible misfortunes with little liveliness or pleasure to lighten it, and everyone going to the bad one way or another. I found the story of Dimple and her crazy husband melodramatic and unlikely, particularly as (unlike with Sevenese or Lakshnim) Manicka never properly explained the reasons behind his nastiness, and why he lost interest in Dimple so quickly. The descriptions of his wealth - the house with perfume drops falling from the ceiling, the masses of diamond jewellery, the lavish parties and clothes - were also very over the top, and I ultimately found Dimple's reaction to her husband's behaviour strangely selfish for a character meant to be so gentle. Fundamentally I don't feel this section worked at all. Nor really did the ending - we never knew enough about Nisha for her to be a particularly interesting narrator (Manicka didn't flesh her out psychologically at all) and though the ending had some satisfactory elements - some lovely prose, and some tying up of loose ends such as what happened to Ratha - it did feel both a bit too tidy and slightly incomplete. There were also disturbing hints of sentimentality which Manicka had avoided earlier - Nisha being assured her father 'really adored you and your mother' when he'd behaved appallingly to them both, and feeling she had 'closure' in her relationship with her father as a result. And why did Manicka suddenly seem to turn against Ayah, who she described with such tenderness for much of the novel? Also, if Nisha had been bankrupted, how could she afford to renovate her mother's house and live comfortably there? And why didn't we find out what happened to Anna, who was one of my favourite characters? Still, I do have to say that apart from some of the Dimple chapters I always found passages to enjoy right through the book.

Manicka's ambitions to tell a multi-generational saga are impressive, but I felt that she overstretched herself here. The story of Lakshmi and her husband and children is wonderfully told, but in endeavouring to tell detailed stories of four generations Manicka seems to have exhausted her inspiration, and may exhaust her reader by the end of the book! Nevertheless, I found there was a lot to enjoy here, particularly in the early stages, there was some fascinating historical and cultural information, and I never wanted to give up on the novel. I'll be interested to explore more of Manicka's work.

Three and a half stars.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Earthy and Compelling, 10 April 2006
This review is from: The Rice Mother (Paperback)
I don't normally have time to review books but I have just finished The Rice Mother (in 2 days - you can't put it down) and felt compelled to say a few words. Yes it is a dark book about a lifetime of struggling, so if you want a happy read avoid this book. However the writing is descriptive without being flowery, with truly 3 dimensional characters throughout the generations. I don't normally like books which move away from the main character as subsequent people are never written as well, however this is an exception to the rule, and I found the transition was handled exceptionally. I would recommend this book to all who truly like to feel part of the world they are reading about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 21 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Rice Mother (Kindle Edition)
From the first page I was hooked. I couldn't put it down. Complex characters and I in no way imagined where it would go. A great read, highly recomended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, 10 Nov 2012
This review is from: The Rice Mother (Kindle Edition)
I have read this book many times and each time, something new comes to light. This book is beautifully written and covers three generations of a family touched by war, death, love and despair. You get an insight into the different characters through their own narratives and everything comes together perfectly.

I love Rani's book....how this didnt get shortlisted for a Booker i dont know. It is a work of art
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The Rice Mother
The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka (Paperback - 17 Mar 2003)
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