Rani Manicka: The Rice Mother

Lovely novel I love to travel through my books When I don t have enough money to buy a ticket to a far away place or when the times I wish to visit have already passed a long time ago I open a book and read This book took me to Malaysia into the lives of three generations of women who struggle to make ends meet and raise their families A beautiful story about love and war mango trees and spiced rice This book is about four generations of a family in Malaysia Lakshmi from Ceylon is duped into marrying Ayah He portrays himself as a wealthy man But everything is an illusion even down to the borrowed gold watch Ayah is a civil servant who while indly and loving is a plodding unintelligent man Lakshmi has 6 children by the time she is nineteen She makes friends with the Chinese servant girl next door Mui Tsai Mui is forced to have sex with her master and each child is given to a different wifeThis story weaves a tale during the Japanese occupation and beyond As weak as Ayah is Lakshmi is a strong and formidable matriarch Her first two children are twins Lakshmnan and Mohini Lakshmi must Italian Riviera keep Mohini save from the Japanese and the torture they will submit Mokini to if they find her There is tradegy upon tradegy and she faces each challenge andeeps on goingThe prose in the book is absolutely amazing The description of the Japanese occupation is hideous The culture pre war and after is described Children with beauty and lightness of skin colour are highly valuedThe story is told from the viewpoint of each of the characters I found this story very compelling So compelling I just could not put the book down I think this must be for me the Malaysian euivalent of A Thousand Splendid Suns A dense poetic evocative sensual lush decadent story This was a heavy read at times with much savagery and tragedy within but Manicka drew me wholly into the intoxicating world of MalaysiaThis debut novel was an addictive page turner for the parts which deal with Lakshmi s forced marriage and the births of her 6 children and then the Japanese occupation of Malaysia during World War Two Selfishly I wish the novel had expanded on this enthralling heartbreaking period rather than continuing on to modern day at all Though of course it had to follow out The Rice Mother s line through to her true heir I cannot uite account for why I became so attached to this story given I despised far too many characters and despaired of their fates Manicka bewitched me with both her descriptive prowess and her abiding love for the enchanting culture people and land of MalaysiaThere are so many indelible images enfolded in this read I feel it will take a week to unpack them all The A Beach Party with Alexis kind of book that necessitates a light easy read next Certainly I will treasure from this novel some beautiful moments in prose She had betrayed him He who loved her so dearly She felt defeated by her own impatience her own incredibly clever mind Her head had ruined her heartI have been weak and pathetic because I forgot that love comes and goes like the dye that colours a garment I mistook love for the garment Family is the garment Let her wear her family with prideI see her Flowers grow beneath her feet but she is not dead at all The years have not diminished the Rice Mother She is fierce and magical Stop despairing and call to her and you will see she will come bearing a rainbow of dreamsNow excuse me while I go order some Malaysian food because I ve never craved it The author s descriptions of traditional cultural food are sublime The Rice Mother is a strong and powerful work that takes readers into the lives of people of diaspora in Malaya their cultures customs religion culinary delights all interwoven with their lives and fate during the course of the last century Filled with characters and events Rani Manicka s debut novel is indicative of the start of a successful writing career It is a story with a lot of sadness but iteeps the attention of the reader until the very end It is a tale of choices that Nothing in Lakshmi's childhood running carefree and barefoot on the sun baked earth amid the coconut and mango trees of Ceylon could have prepared her for what life was to bring her At fourteen she finds herself traded in marriage to a stranger across the ocean in the fascinating land of Malaysia Duped into thinking her new husband is wealthy she instead finds hersel.

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Who winds up either a widow or with a wastrel husband a brood and no means of support for her family It s been done by male and female writers it s been played out in every possible ind of setting and time period from ancient Roman households to Mayberry So as an author if you re going to take that crumbly old plot and make it the center of your novel you had better be able to pony up some good writing to make it palatable In the novelThe Rice Mother author Rani Manicka does just thatLakshmi is the Mother in this multi generational story In the early 1920 s she is married off and leaves her native Ceylon with her husband Ayah for Maylasia Once in Maylaysia Lakshmi learns that her 37 year old husband had borrowed a gold watch and a servant in order to convince her Mother that he was rich and marry her In reality he s a clerk who lives a hand to mouth existence However what s done is done She is now a fourteen year old wife housekeeper and stepmother It isn t long before it s clear to Lakshmi that although Ayah is basically a good man and loves her that he is incapable of supporting them By the time she turns nineteen Lakshmi has in uick succession given birth to six children It is only her sheer force of will that eeps her family together For the family the worst is yet to come with WWII and the occupation by the Japanese It is a brutal and faith testing time that leaves them scarred forever Although larger than life as all matriarchs are in these The House Guest Box Set (SwingersThreesome Bisexual MMF Cuckold Hotwife Menage) ) kinds of novels Lashmi is a believably flawed person Her evolution from happy teenager daydreaming about her future to an embittered hard angry able to make the tough decisions that may cost her children s love woman is honestly depicted through her experiences and circumstances Author Manicka moves the novel forward through Lakshmi her children and her grandchildren with mutilate family members living and deceased taking their turn telling the story The characters limited choices weaknesses and their temptations are successfully detailed against fifty years of Malaysian history The Rice Mother is a big novel with some first time novelist missteps The book is a little too cluttered with sometimes too convenient plot twists and one or two of the characters are cartoonish in their evilness That said it is also a well written interesting dissection of a world and a time that most of usnow little about Manicka s obvious nowledge of and affection for the culture and beauty of Maylasia is evident throughout the book The Rice Mother is a journey into a family whose difficult lives and small victories enrich the rest of us I loved the beginning of the book which centers on Lakshmi and Ayah Lakshmi is a true person the fierce spirit of the author s grandmother Did I like reading about her most because she is the one true character of the book This bothered me It also bothered me that the book is about Lakshmi and her strong hold and relationship to her family So how can the grandmother part of this story be true and not any of the other people The book was all about family relations So in the beginning this book was earning 5 stars but it only ended up with 3 The other characters of the family that folowed the strong grandmother made such a glorious mess of their lives They had no strength whatsoever I didn t really enj After two full days I finally finished reading Rani Manicka s debut novel The Rice Mother So intense is the storyline I found myself clenching my fist and gritting my teeth from time to time as I breathed in the wonderful storytelling Love betrayal anger sorrow hope denial happiness longing despair deceit infedility honesty pain and a thousand other emotions are spun and woven beautifully in this 580 page work of art spanning a period of 85 years over 4 generations It s been a long time since I last read an intense gripping book and I m glad i brought home this title from the bookshop not so long ago Highly recommended this title will surely chart in my all time favourite list from now on. StrengthBy sheer willpower Lakshmi survives the nightmare of World War II and the Japanese occupation but not unscathed The family bears deep scars on its back and in turn inflicts those wounds on the next generation But it is not until Lakshmi's great granddaughter Nisha pieces together the mosaic of her family history that the legacy of the Rice Mother bears fruit.

Eople make sometimes nowing and almost inviting trouble There is so much to analyze so many layers to the story and the characters No character is just black and white Each of the characters are well fleshed out and that couldn t be an easy task given that there are so many of them All their narratives ring true The writing is vivid so clear that you could be right there I just love books like thatIt is a book I would certainly recommend I could not believe that this one is a debut novel This author has uite a promising career The book gripped me from the beginning and never let go The family saga spanning about 80 years in time beginning in the 1920s is told from the perspective of many different family members spanning four generations I loved that way of telling the story of this family set in Malaysia dealing with all of their adversities and they had many including the Japanese occupation during WWII But later it is revealed that there is a definite reason for telling the story in this manner And that is only one of the many surprises Toward the end of the book there is a gap in the story which at first annoyed me and then the reason was revealed which brings the entire book together into one cohesive story It was so compelling and riveting that it was hard to put down especially as you neared the ending From Lakshmi the Rice Mother who in her own tragic way does her utmost to shape her family into the picture of success and prosperity to Nisha the great granddaughter who works to reestablish her family ties this story is filled with drama passion sorrow tragedy and triumph A great one that I would highly recommend In short this book is gut wrenching Truly a tough read the telling of a family s dreadful prophecy and its lengthy unfolding over multiple generationsAt its best it s a tribute to the tenacity of powerless women the child brides of history who accepted their fates and challenges At its best it lends a voice to powerless women of traditional societiesIt also delivers on Asian folklore Manicka has a great talent for writing beautiful sentencesThat said I found it tedious The only thing that really changes in the book is that time passes The characters remained disappointingly two dimensional forever stuck either by circumstance or by their own limitations women s powerlessness compounded by poverty superstition and resignationUltimately for me it s too many broken people too much hopelessness I certainly don t need everything I read to be about the triumph of human spirit But it s another thing entirely to see the human spirit relieved only in death At some point I became defeated by the narrative just like many of the women who new no pleasure and seemed to experience only insult and rape Perhaps this is the intention as it has the feel of a fairy tale But it just wasn t for meThe past is like an armless legless cripple with crafty eyes a vindictive tongue and a long memory Life had yet to teach me that a child s love can never eual a mother s painA fast paced family saga depicting life in Malaysia through four generations The author does an amazing job showing the change in lifestyle and culture over an 85 year period The first and last chapter could almost feel like different books if it weren t for the recurring themes I thought the cast of characters were beautifully described and I loved that none of them were perfect I hated Rani my heart broke for poor Mui Tsai and Lakshmi was a one of the most complex characters I ve ever come across Some of the reviews complain that the story is too full and moves too fast but I think this is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much it uickly hooks you in and does not let go If you don t enjoy stories drenched in sadness this is not for youThe Story The Rice Mother details the struggles of a Matriarch determined to advance her children and the scars her ambition leaves on the family There is nothing new about a storyline that takes a woman with no education no experience in the world. F struggling to raise a family with a man too impractical to face reality and a world that is by turns unyielding and amazing brutal and beautiful Giving birth to a child every year until she is nineteen Lakshmi becomes a formidable matriarch determined to wrest from the world a better life for her daughters and sons and to face every new challenge with almost mythic.

Rani Manicka an economics graduate was born and educated in Malaysia and divides her time between Malaysia and England Her first novel 'The Rice Mother'Infused with her own Sri Lankan family history is a vivid imaginative story about the frailties of human nature and the conseuences of war It won a Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2003 She has published a further two novels'Touching Earth'in 2