Sunday, January 20, 2008

Books: The Inheritance of Loss

I finally finished The Inheritance of Loss a while back. I'm not really sure why it took me so long to finish - it wasn't a bad novel but it just didn't hold my interest. Mainly, it took me a very long time to feel any type of interest for most of the characters, and many of them seemed shallow and superficial. In fact, I kept confusing which one was which and who did what but that may have more to do with the fact that I kept putting the book down and reading other novels before getting back to it. Still, it wasn't until the end of the novel that some of the characters really started developing, becoming deeper and more interesting. The author may have intended to show that hard times can affect everyone and therefore didn't want to make the higher class figures very likeable or three dimensional beforehand, but if that was the case, she did too good a job of making me not care in the beginning. Particularly, I'm referring to a pair of sisters who were obsessed with the West and Britain, and seemed to look down on their own country while also having several prejudices against every ethnic group in the area. This has come up in other post-colonial novels such as The God of Small Things (I loved that book) but in The Inheritance of Loss, I felt as if the characters weren't very conflicted or complicated until the end, while in The God of Small Things, for example, the people knew about their conflicted feelings, and just seemed to have more humanity to them. I am not sure how else to explain it. As far as the main characters are concerned, the author explains the conflict they feel and the internalized hatred well but I never cared about most of them - I didn't feel sympathetic to the judge, Sai's story about her first crush could have been more engaging, especially given the betrayal and class differences, but the two love interests were just too mushy and boring when they were together for me to care about their relationship (petnames? really?). The only character I was interested in was the cook's son, and his situation was rather hopeless although probably very accurate.

Basically, I thought the book had a promising premise, and I had looked forward to reading it, so I am a bit disappointed with it, but they can't all be great.

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