Today I am delighted to be participating in my first ever Blog Tour. Many thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me along and giving me this opportunity. And a huge thank you and massive congratulations to Jeevani Charika. It has been my absolute pleasure to read and review This Stolen Life.
On to the book…
This Stolen Life is a story set across two very different cultures. Beginning in rural Sri Lanka, Jaya is running from an abusive home life. When a chance meeting and a tragic opportunity present themselves, she takes the chance to change her life forever. In the blink of an eye she is on her way to the UK , a new identity and a new life awaiting her.
So Jaya becomes Soma. However she quickly finds that despite a new country, new job and a new name escaping your past and changing your very being isn’t as easy as it seems.
Soma is working in Hull, nannying for a Sri Lankan couple, Yamuna and Bim. Only recently betrothed, within an arranged marriage, this outwardly self assured couple are coping with their own uncertainties and difficulties. A new mother, Yamuna is working through the haze of undiagnosed postnatal depression, whilst long term bachelor Bim is struggling to adjust to family life.
It is through her employers that Soma meets Sahan, nephew of Yamuna. A young, bright undergraduate, Sahan is embroiled in his own journey. Even after three years of living in the UK Sahan finds the cultural differences between his Sri Lanka and his current home difficult to assimilate and come to terms with. Both set adrift in a unfamiliar culture, Soma and Sahan experience an instant attraction which quickly grows into something more. Their’s is a deep and innocent bond, supportive and sustaining but threaten by past secrets and cultural expectations. Soma’s secret is to big to remain concealed, the clock is ticking and can their relationship survive the shock?
What I really enjoyed about this book is how Jeevani Charika explores and portrays the difficulties and complexities faced by those people trying to assimilate a culture that is alien to them. So many of the characters here are on a journey, be that living in a new country, being a new parent, studying or working and they are all trying desperately to fit in.
The balancing act of making your way in a strange world whilst remaining true to yourself and your heritage is skillfully and beautifully portrayed. It is through the innocent eyes of Soma we feel the shock of the English weather, the blandness of food and the utter terror of even stepping outside the front door. It is no accident that the first and most fulfilling bond Soma creates is with her charge, Louie, the infant son of Yamuna and Bim. Here there is no judgement, no social norms to learn and maintain. Within this relationship she can speak her own language and not worrying about maintaining her pretence. It is her sanctuary.
On first reading, the title of the book ,This Stolen Life, seems to related completely to the character and story of Soma. However the more I reflected on this book, the more it appeared that it could equally have applied to many of the novel’s other characters. To some degree many of the character’s lives are constrained by outside pressures. Yamuna is quietly grieving the change that motherhood and marriage have wrought upon her, Sahan is balancing his own desires against those of his parents and their strict cultural expectations. Do any of these characters have the courage to take control of their own destinies and successfully bridge two cultures, and create lives true to themselves in the process?
At first glance this is a simple story, but in reality it is anything but. Charika has woven many complex and relevant issues into her narrative. It is a book to make you stop and think, to reassess and question your own experiences and motivations. I feel it would make a really interesting bookclub read; there is so much to discuss and it is likely to draw a wide range of opinions.
This book is a quiet little gem just waiting to be discovered. A genuine and honest story of self discovery and all that entails. And the fact it was set in Hull, my old University stomping ground and place I meet my future husband, was the icing on a very delicious cake.
Thank you Jeevani Charika, for sharing this book with me and allowing me to review. I hope, like your characters, it gains it wings and flies. It deserves to.
About the author.
Jeevani Charika is a British Sri-Lankan, who also writes under the pen name Rhoda Baxter. She describes herself as a writer of ‘women’s fiction and contemporary romances with a hint of British cynicism.’ Her books have been shortlisted for RoNA awards, the Love Story Awards and the Joan Hessayon Awards. She is a member of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors.
And there is more…
The Blog Tour for This Stolen Life runs until 17th May 2019. Why not check out more reviews of this delightful book?