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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant love story set against a backdrop of ethnic tension, 14 Mar 2001
This review is from: JULY (Paperback)
I picked up July with some trepidation, fearing lest it were not so good as Karen Roberts' first novel, The Flower Boy. My fears were cast aside within pages as I read on and on, entranced. In July, Karen Roberts describes life in her native Sri Lanka with astonishing vividness through the eyes of the residents of a middle class cul de sac. The mores of middle class life in 1970s and 1980s Colombo are documented in all their richness and absurdity as they affect the Sinhalese and Tamil residents of Araliya Gardens. Against this backdrop and particularly the friendship between the Sinhalese Silva family and the Tamil Balasinghams, the undercurrents of ethnic tension are gradually revelaed. From the friendship between the two families, a love affair grows between Priyanthi Silva and Niranjan Balasingham, a love which, in the eyes of their families, is impossible. As the love between the two young people grows, so does ethnic tension until the novel's climax in the horrific riots of 1983 which launched the ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka. Karen Roberts is a native of Sri Lanka. She succeeds in bringing the country completely into the minds of her readers. Not only places but turns of phrase and attitudes of mind are portrayed, until the small world of Araliya Gardens becomes 3-dimensional and real. Roberts paints this world deftly - there are no heavy-handed explanations and it is up to the reader to draw the book's wider themes about discrimination and prejudice and the various natures of love from this moving narrative.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The day Colombo went mad...., 22 Nov 2008
By 
RD - See all my reviews
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This review is from: JULY (Hardcover)
A lot of the reasons I loved this book stem from the fact that I am a Sri Lankan and spent most of my teenage years in Colombo. It made it easy for me to picture the people and places described. I didn't find any of it hard to believe (except the relationship the two protagonists develop with a toddy tapper) or inaccurate (keeping in mind I wasn't born at the time!) which was nice as it felt relatively unbiased.
July takes the reader on both a historical journey into Sri Lankas unpleasant past but also a seperate journey involving the characters and their day to day problems. I felt a myriad of emotions from happiness and homesickness to anger and sadness.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Utterly Convincing Story, 27 July 2007
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This review is from: JULY (Paperback)
Karen Roberts is a native of Sri Lanka who now lives in California. This book as well as The Flower Boy, her previous book, are set in Sri Lanka. Her strength as a novelist lies in her meticulous development of story, and this makes her novels very easy to read. The Flower Boy is a delightful novel because it evokes the beauty of the Sri Lankan hill country seen through the eyes of a young boy; that beauty being contrasted with the mess adult human beings make of their lives.

July is a more serious novel dealing with a real event in history: The massacre of thousands of Tamils which took place in Colombo and its environs on the 23rd of July 1983, "Black" July. The main characters in the book are Priyanthi Silva, a Sinhalese girl, and Niranjan Balasingham, a Tamil boy, who fall in love with each other. The character of Priyanthi is very believable, that of Niranjan somewhat less so. The background details of life in Colombo in the seventies and early eighties are accurate but sometimes feel as if seen from a distance. Some of the supporting characters could have contributed more to the story if they had been fleshed out more fully. I was disappointed with the character of "Bala", Niranjan's father, who is a highly educated man and a teacher of English, but whose erudition is hardly evident in his conversation.

The essentials of the story are utterly convincing and make this book well worth reading. It is sometimes said that the German people have not accepted the reality of the Holocaust; as a Sri Lanka Sinhalese it seems to me that the Sinhalese people have not accepted the reality of Black July, and that reading Karen Roberts' novel could help us to do so.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good read, especially if you intend to go to Sri Lanka, 12 Mar 2013
By 
Jill (Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: JULY (Paperback)
I read this book whilst travelling round Sri Lanka. I loved it. It tells a poignant story of Singhalese and Tamil families, close neighbours, before and during the time of the riots in the 1980's. As well as being a 'good read', their way of life , their customs, the food they prepared, the meals they shared, the places mentioned and their experiences of conflict and discrimination enriched my understanding of this beautiful country and its warm and welcoming people. Take it with you!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking, 2 July 2012
This review is from: JULY (Paperback)
What an undiscovered talent this Sinhalese writer is. This book tells of the problems and consequences of religious hatred. Priyanthi, a Sinhalese girl, falls for a Tamil boy -Niranjan in Columbo in the years leading up to and surrounding the anti Tamil uprisings and riots of the 1980s. The two families have lived side by side for years, the children grown up together and are friends and yet as soon as the two fall for each other one mother turns against the others son, and is determined to marry off her daughter to a good Sinhalese as soon as possible. It threatens to tear the families apart and then the riots start. Can't wait to read her other book "Flower Boy". For another good read about prejudice set in Sri Lanka read Gillian Slovo "The Black Orchids"
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting and compelling novel., 10 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: JULY (Paperback)
From the first few pages I was caught up in the world that Karen Roberts paints of social discord and animosity in former Cey Lon. The descriptive powers literally draw you into a world where greater issues of race and religion are fought out on a personal plain. I could not put this book down until it was finished and I would whole heartedly recommend it. Karen Roberts is one to watch....
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely lovely yet very heartrenchingly sad read, 11 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: JULY (Paperback)
Was such simple, yet beautifully written book, which was touching and optimistic but so so so sad. The history of Sri-Lanka was facsinating to learn about as well as the little details of the families lives.I loved it and want to read the Flower Boy as soon as I can get my hands on it!
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JULY
JULY by Karen Roberts (Paperback - 10 Jan 2002)
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