I have enjoyed books in the non-Indian, South Asian setting a lot. The stories, characters evoke such a lot of similarities with India, that I end up enthralled. So when I saw The Japanese Lover by Rani Manicka, I grabbed it without a second thought.
Parvathi, a young girl in Ceylon is married off to a rich landlord in Malaya, by her unscrupulous father, by showing the marriage broker some other girl’s picture. This also fulfilled the prophesy when she was born. Parvathi’s husband is annoyed at the cheating, and asks her to get ready to go back to her village. For some reasons, her husband(Marimuthu) lets her stay on with him. She stays there, but not as a much loved wife, but more as a person who is just about tolerated to be allowed to stay on.
Some years later, her husband brings home his love-child with a dancer. When she (the dancer) dies, Marimuthu brings their daughter(Rubini) home to his wife. Later Parvathi gives birth to a son, who ends up being extremely pampered and spoiled. Both these children test Parvathi a lot, in different ways. Marimuthu passes away just before the Japanese invasion of Malaysia.
After the Japanese invasion, it so happens that Parvathi becomes the lover of a Japanese General, and for the first time in her life, is happy and cherished as a woman.
While the story was interesting, there was still something missing. I haven’t been able to pin point it. There was a lot of prophesies, and portents happening, but the story could not really hold it together to explain everything that was brought up in the narration.. It almost feels like a lot of ingredients were added, but somewhere along the line, the purpose of the recipe was lost?
I would rate it 2/5, mainly because it started off well, and the way it ended was a little disappointing. Not a book that I would particularly recommend.