Book Review: Nectar in a Sieve

Sunday, January 31, 2010

(This post was supposed to go up on Saturday, but my Internet hasn't been working properly, and blogger hates me!)

Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya

Plot Overview
When Rukmani is twelve years old she marries a man that she has never met. She moves away from the village where she grew up and becomes the wife of a tenant farmer named Nathan. Nathan is kind to her and their love for each other quickly grows into a strong, genuine bond. Rukmani respects him for his hard work and his skill at working the land, and Nathan respects Rukmani's ability to read and write ( skills that are not often found among the villagers), and her determination to learn the tasks required of a farmer's wife. Nathan has never learned to read or write, and as Rukmani's husband he has the right to forbid her from using these skills, but he never does. Instead, he praises her cleverness and calls her 'the best of wives.'
The main theme in the story is Hardship, and it comes in many forms: hunger, poverty, death, infertility, prostitution, infidelity. Day-to-day survival is often a struggle for Rukmani and her family.

The Good
Rukmani has an amazing fortitude, and she does her best to adapt to the situations that she faces. Instead of giving up, she chooses to 'bend
like the grass, that you do not break.' Through every hardship she continues to hope and plan for the future. She says to herself 'and what if we gave in to our troubles at every step! We would be pitiable creatures indeed to be so weak, for is not a man’s spirit given to him to rise above his misfortunes?"
This was a lovely, well-written story, and Rukmani's faith was inspiring.

The Bad
Some will find this story too melodramatic for their tastes, as the majority of the book is focused on the hardships that the family faces. There is also little in the way of plot. The story is simply about the day-to-day survival of a family facing hard times. There is also very little character development. I would have liked to learn more about the personalities of Rukmani's children.

My Rating

I thought that the book was lovely, and often poetic. It was a simple story, told in simple language, but it left a lasting impression. 8/10

(P.S. sorry about the random bold script up there, but I don't know how to fix it. like I said earlier - Blogger hates me.)