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Karen Maitland
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The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much.

This quote, more than anything I could write, tells the reader what they will find on the pages of this hauntingly tragic novel. I could tell you the plot points, and I will, but nothing I say will better describe The God of Small Things than those few words.

There is an innocence to childhood. Usually that innocence fades slowly, shed as the child grows into first adolescence and then into adulthood. Other times that innocence is ripped away, quick and painful - this is what happened to fraternal twins, Rahel and Estha. Their childhood was a lonely one, growing up in the southernmost province of India, the tip that juts into the sea. Their mother was divorced, bringing shame to her family. Their father was a violent drunkard, whom they knew nothing about, outside of a picture in which they clung to him, their mothering hovering just outside the frame to catch them should he suddenly drop them. The rest of the household was made up of their vitriolic grandaunt (who once loved a priest and nurtured her disappointment like a venomous snake), their communist Oxford-educated uncle (also divorced, but his of course bringing no shame), their blind grandmother (who delivered all her wifely baggage to her son's care the day stopped his father from killing her), and the ghost of their grandfather (also trapped in disappointment and anger, though his was came from a moth with unusually dense dorsal tufts). There was another. An Untouchable. A man who had obtained an unusual importance within the family circle. Unthinkable. Echos of this allowance would be felt Later. Lay Ter.

This novel beautiful, haunting, tragic. It is the story of childhood lost, it is the story of love, it is the story of death. The story unwinds slowly, with a deep sense of foreboding, the author leaving hints of what is to come. Despite the almost painfully slow telling of the story, the way it meanders back in forth in time, it is never plodding. The author, recreating language as it suits her, as she needs to, strings you along, inviting you to keep reading, to find out lies within the book's Heart of Darkness. Dark of Heartness. I was captivated from the very first page, and even though the author leaves a trail of breadcrumbs for you to follow, even though you know what is going to happen, in the end, when it does, you're still not prepared.