The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
It’s amazing how reading in the right environment can change how you view a book. I attempted to read The God of Small Things in my third year at uni as part of my reading list. I started reading it on the train on my second lot of work experience in three weeks and quite frankly it was too much for my little brain to cope with so I read Vogue instead.
Fast forward three years and I started to read The God of small Things again. It was one of the only books I kept which I either didn’t read or didn’t enjoy at uni. I began reading it sitting in the conservatory with a glass of wine in hand while the boy cooked a BBQ. I read the first 70 pages and thought; crikey this isn’t bad at all. I remember that one of the things which put me off before was the introduction of so many characters that had similar sounding names.
Fast forward 24 hours and it started. I began to lose interest as the book went off in all sorts of directions. Again it’s a winner of the Booker Prize which for some reason means I don’t tend to like the these books, not intentionally I’d like to add. While it had moments of brilliance and sections which enticed me back in I couldn’t seem to recapture my enjoyment of when I started reading it initially for that second time.
We are introduced to Mammachi, mother to Chacko and Ammu, grandmother to Estha and Rahel. Baby Mammachi is the matriarch of the family – a tough lady who endured domestic violence at the hands of her husband. Chacko, who in technical terms I would describe as a bit wet, is the intellect of the family and goes to university abroad. He marries a British lady resulting in his daughter Sophie Mol. Ammu, much like her mother has an awful marriage and leaves her drunken husband behind and takes her children with her.
Sophie Mol, Estha and Rahel are all close and regularly play together but there is a tragic accident when the trio play in a boat in the river and Sophie Mol drowns. This has repercussions for the rest of Estha and Rahel’s life – the former is sent away to his father and refuses to speak (he is also molested by a man during a screening of the Sound of Music prior to the incident) and the later wrestles with her guilt and the part she played in the accident.
There are further flashbacks throughout as Velutha is introduced to the reader, he is a Communist and is seen as lowest of the low in society. He and Ammu become lovers which is frowned upon by her family. When Mammachi finds out she tried to concoct a plausible story but in the midst of the commotion the trio above escape and this is when the unfortunate accident occurs.
The book is full of emotion and littered with political intrigue. Yes it’s not as bad as I thought it would be but it’s not a book I would return to anytime soon.