A breathtaking and absorbing novel set in Malaysia propelled by the superb storytelling instinct of the author of THE RICE MOTHER.
Parvathi leaves her native Ceylon for Malaya and an arranged marriage to a wealthy businessman. But her father has cheated, supplying a different girl's photograph, and Kasu Marimuthu, furious, threatens to send her home in disgrace. Gradually husband and wife reach an accommodation and the naïve young girl learns to assume the air of sophisticated mistress of a luxurious estate. She even adopts his love child and treats Rubini as her own daughter - a generous act which is rewarded by a long-wished-for son.
But it is a life without passion and Parvathi dreams of loving - and being loved - with complete abandon.
When the Japanese invade Malaya in WW2, they requisition the estate. Marimuthu dies and Parvathi is forced to accept the protection of the Japanese general who has robbed her of her home. For the first time she experiences sexual ecstasy. And gradually, her sworn enemy becomes the lover she has always yearned for . . .
Bestseller Manicka (The Rice Mother) spins an epic tale of love, loss, and cosmic destiny in her gripping and eloquent third novel, set against the lush backdrop of Malaya throughout the political and cultural turmoil of the 20th century. Prophesied at birth to have a wealthy but disastrous marriage, Parvathi, a poor Ceylonese girl, is married to a powerful man who despises her; she survives life in his house by devoting herself to her children, to a kindly servant, and to Maya, a powerful healer. When Japanese soldiers invade during WWII, she experiences love and passion for the first time in the arms of a commanding officer named Hattori. Manicka's lush, subtle, and arresting story stands out for its unforgettable characters and its emphasis on familial love and friendship as equally (if not more) important than romantic love; indeed, to call this a romance would be misleading. Unfortunately, this otherwise engrossing work is marred by intrusive New Age spirituality, often turning Maya into little more than a mouthpiece, and a glossing over of Japanese war crimes in Malaysia.