The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy

Over the years  I have picked this book up at a book store and put it back down many times undecided as to whether I would purchase it or not. Perhaps a sign of things to come? I finally purchased a copy, had it sit on my shelf for four months and now have actually read it. How did I feel? A little underwhelmed to be honest (but can you ever just be whelmed?). I don’t know if perhaps I had expectations a little too high? The God of Small Things follows a family living in India in 1969. The two egg twins Estha and Rahel, their mother Ammu, Uncle Chacko, the enemy Baby Kochamma just to name a few. When Chacko’s English ex-wife and daughter, Sophie Mol, arrive the whole family find their lives are turned upside down and are shattered forever.

 

As I mentioned, I found myself a little under whelmed by this book. I wonder if I might enjoy it a little more on a second read. I found the first half of the novel quite confusing, constantly hinting at what might have happened to Sophie Mol and then chopping and changing between the past and the present. I was quite lost and found it difficult to concentrate on the prose and keep track of my bearings within the story. The writing from the perspective of you Estha and Rahel is fascinating but also difficult to relax into, hence why I think this novel might have more to give the second time around. I did read this book over the course of a month, breaking it up into smaller pieces, a continuous read through might help the reader gain a little momentum. I feel like I lost something reading it over such a long period of time.

 

The characters within the novel were all vivid and entertaining. Some were likeable, many were not and yet each was captivating in their own way. I would have loved to have understood them a little more, in particular grown up Estha and Rahel, Ammu and Chacko in particular. More insight into their action and consequences would have added a bit more to my experience. The themes within the novel and the social constructs of India in the late sixties were interesting and another highlight, however, I found myself wishing they were explored a little more. I guess my overall feel form this novel was that I would have liked a little more. I felt there were many ideas and events alluded to, without a lot of clear explanations and I was left with many lingering questions. Hopefully a second read will shed some light in the future. Overall, I would recommend this book. The prose is a definite highlight but just be prepared that you maybe be left wanting a little more. I give The God of Small Things three little ships sailing across the river.

 

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