Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya

~~~Markandaya tells this story in a very low-key kind of way although it is quite tragic. She has a wonderful way with words, beautiful descriptions and analogies. Rukmani tells her story in a quiet, matter-of-fact voice, beginning with her marriage to a stranger at the age of 12. Within in a year, she gives birth to a daughter and eventually adds six sons to the family. She and her husband, Nathan, rent a piece of land where they grow rice and vegetables. They have so little control over their lives, affairs are constantly being shaped by the weather, disease, more modern ways and those around them with power and money. Part of their tragedy is that, no matter how hard they work, they are never going to better their lives. "This is one of the truths of our existence as those who live by the land know: that sometimes we eat and sometimes we starve. We live by our labours from one harvest to the next, there is no certain telling whether we shall be able to feed ourselves and our children, and if bad times are prolonged we know we must see the weak surrender their lives and this fact, too, is within our experience. In our lives, there is no margin for misfortune."
~~~Rukmani is an exceptionally strong woman, and never seems to give in. Her trials keep coming and she bears it and moves on. "What if we gave in to our troubles at every step! We would be pitiable creatures indeed to be so weak, for is not a man's spirit given to him to rise above his misfortunes?
~~~Ultimately, this is a love story of two stranger coming together and learning love and respect for the other by building a life together. Even though it is an incredibly hard life, they support each other through it all. "He suffered for me, not so much for himself, and I likewise, so that although together there was more strength there was also more suffering, and if each had been alone the way might not have seemed so hard; yet I knew neither could have borne it alone."
~~~Even though there were some beautiful passages in this book, and I learned a little about the changing way of life in India in the 50's, I don't believe this is a book that I would ever be drawn to read again. It's such a sad story, yet not very compelling.
Rating: 3
Posted by Framed at 8:51 PM

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...
I hadn't heard of this book before. Sounds interesting but I am definitely not in the mood for a sad book anytime soon.Heatherwww.thelibraryladder.blogspot.com
8:32 PM
nessie said...
have you ever tried A Fine Balance? The writing is Superb and the tale even better though there is a bitter sweetness to it.
8:31 PM
Lotus Reads said...
Framed, I agree with Nessie, "A Fine Balance" is a truly wonderful book and Mistry is a fabulous writer.I have read "Nectar in a Sieve" and I found it much too depressing. Nothing ever seemed to go right for the characters, there was no hope - it was sad.
5:54 AM
Framed said...
I haven't read "AFinae Blance" yet, but it has been on the TBR list for quite some time now.
7:10 PM

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