I do love the way Jeevani Charika writes. There is such an open honesty in her characters. I so enjoyed her previous book, This Stolen Life, and when I was offered the chance to join the blog tour for her next book, A Convenient Marriage, I didn’t hesitate.
There are some similarities between the books: the most obvious one is that the cultural background of the main characters, Chaya and Gimhana, is Sri Lankan; other not so obvious parallels are the struggles with identity and to fit in with the stringent cultural rules that their families still follow.
Regardless of how far we think we’ve come, and how forward-thinking and open-minded we think we are, we can never assume that everyone thinks and feels the same. Age-old cultures and traditions still take centre stage in many countries, and for many families who still maintain these, no matter which country they may find themselves living in.
For Chaya, her role has always been clear: she’s the ‘good sister’, the ‘clever one’, while her sister has been the ‘pretty one’. The pressure to be successful has always been immense, and paired with the additional expectation of needing to get married to an appropriate partner, she feels adrift – she already met her soulmate and he’s someone she knows her family would never accept. Gimhana’s parents have been trying to introduce him to the ‘perfect’ wife for almost as long as he can remember. As a Sri Lankan male, he knows that he’s expected to have a profitable, thriving career and a happy marriage with a satisfactory number of offspring. But there’s one problem: Gimhana isn’t interested in women – an unacceptable concept for his family.
In her gentle, subtle way, Ms Charika writes with a clarity that displays her knowledge of the subjects she’s chosen to cover: the Sri Lankan culture, mental health issues, sexuality and sexual preference, gender roles – especially in the workplace – and how family values can be manipulated to suit the requirements of those in power.
This is a touching, sometimes difficult, 4-star read.
Jeevani* writes multicultural women’s fiction. She was born in the South of England, but spent much of her childhood in Sri Lanka, with short forays to Nigeria and Micronesia, before returning to settle in Yorkshire. She studied Biochemistry and Microbiology at Oxford and ended up working in university technology transfer. All of this, it turned out, was excellent preparation for becoming a novelist.She also writes romantic comedies under the name Rhoda Baxter. Her books have been shortlisted for the RoNA awards, the Love Stories awards and the Joan Hessayon award. She is a member of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. Jeevani loves all things science geeky. She also loves cake, crochet and playing with Lego. You can find out more about her (and get a free book by signing up to her newsletter) on her website. www.jeevanicharika.com
(*Jeevani is pronounced ‘Jeev-uh-nee’. Or just call her Jeev)
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Thank you to Sarah Hardy of Books on The Bright Side for inviting me on the blog tour (after seeing I’d reviewed Jeevani’s previous book). Take a look at what other bloggers are saying about A Convenient Marriage …