The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka
Lakshmi's childhood in Ceylon is idyllic: her mother adores her and the child runs free among the coconuts and mangoes of her native land. But the family is poor, so Lakshmi is married off, at the age of fourteen, to a man who promises her a life of wealth and ease in Malaysia. Far away from her family, Lakshmi discovers that Ayah has lied about his circumstances and in fact lives in poverty. Undaunted, she works ceaselessly to provide a good life for her children - she has five by the time she is nineteen. A woman of formidable energy and intelligence, Lakshmi has indeed provided security, if not luxury, for her family, though at a considerable emotional cost - they are all aware they cannot live up to her firece ambitions for them. Then the Japanese army invades during WWII. On the eve of peace, her beloved eldest daughter, Mohini, is raped and killed by the occupying army - a tragedy that affects all the family, particularly Mohini's twin, Lakshmnann, who feels responsible for his sister's capture. For this second generation, and for Lakshmi's grandchildren, increased prosperity does not bring happiness - it is as if the family is cursed by betrayal and secrets, and the addictions of drink, drugs and gambling. But in Nisha, Lakshmi's great-granddaughter, it is as if Fate has come full circle and the novel ends on a note of reconciliation and hope. Lyrically told through the voices of succeeding generations, The Rice Mother is a compelling glimpse into a captivatingly exotic world of myth and magic, where gods and ghosts walk hand in hand.