Finished June 3
Nothing Like Love by Sabrina Ramnanan
This first novel is a wonderful immersion into the life of a small community in Trinidad and Tobago called Chance. The year is 1974. The story revolves around two young people, their family and friends. Vimla Narine is a smart young woman. She gets the highest marks in her class, has been accepted to teach at the school in Chance, and is in love with Krishna. Krishna is the son of the village holy-man, Pundit Anand. When the two young people are caught alone at night, it doesn't matter that they were only talking, a scandal has begun. Pundit Anand uses his influence to make things worse, causing Vimla to lose her teaching offer, and sending Krishna to study religious texts at his aunt's in Tobago while his father arranges his marriage to another young woman. Both Vimla and Krishna are heartbroken, but Krishna finds a new world in Tobago, one that his father's tight control on his life hasn't brought to his experience. Vimla finds herself approached by the beautiful Chalisa Shankar, the young woman that Pundit Anand and Chalisa's grandmother have arranged to marry Krishna.
This is a story about parental, and grandparental, expectations, how adults try to push their dreams onto the lives of their children and grandchildren without asking the young people if these are also their dreams, or looking at the natural skills of the young men and women to see if they suit. It is also about young people being brave enough to stand for their own dreams.
I love how Ramnanan uses the unique way the islanders talk to bring their world to life. We see the festivals and traditions, the way that people mingle socially, the moral expectations.
This is a novel that flows nicely, with a plot that keeps the reader turning the pages to find what happens next. Definitely a winner.