Synopses & Reviews
In one of the most impressive debuts of the year, Ru Freeman delivers an epic, searing novel about betrayal and salvation, the strength of the human spirit, and the boundlessness and limits of love.
Set against the volatile events of the last forty years of Sri Lankan history, A Disobedient Girl traces the lives of three characters whose interwoven fates and histories force them to answer life's most difficult questions. Beautiful, haunting, alive, and brimming with truth, it is, above all, a novel about extraordinary circumstances that change life in an instant and the power of love to transcend time and place.
The story begins with two little girls, mistress and servant, one with every luxury and opportunity that money can buy and the other with nothing but her yearning for a better life. Together, they grow up bound by love, betrayal, resentment, and an impossible secret.
Then there is Biso, a devoted mother of three, who risks everything to escape from the hands of her tyrannical husband. But her journey, which begins with such hope, takes her on a disastrous path that ultimately leads her to give her life over to strangers she never imagined she would have reason to know, binding her story with that of the girls in the most unexpected and heartbreaking of ways.
A Disobedient Girl is a compelling exploration of personal desire set against the volatile backdrop of class and prejudice, as three women journey toward their future, united by a shared history but separated by different fates. A bold and deeply moving account that spans three decades of love and loss, it is a tale about the will to survive and the incredible power of the human spirit to transcend the unforgiving sweep of tragedy.
"Ru Freeman's debut novel chronicles the trials and travails of two Sri Lankan women and their pursuit of freedom. Orphaned then absorbed as a servant into a well-to-do Sri Lankan family at the age of five, Latha Kumari grows up in tandem with the family's spoiled young daughter, Thara. However, Latha's mysterious origins and ambiguous caste ensure her a future of unpaid servitude in the Vithanages's household. Resentful, she involves herself with the man meant for Thara. This choice ultimately causes her loss and suffering. Alongside Latha's story is that of Biso's, who is fleeing a drunken abusive husband, a murdered lover and townspeople who whisper 'whore' as she walks past. Biso escapes blindly to the salvation and promise of distant relatives in the north, but her journey with her three children across the country is tainted by murder and terrorism. The kindness of strangers runs out, but the end of Biso's tragic journey will end up being the promise of Latha's future. Freeman illustrates contemporary Sri Lankan life through the battles waged between lovers, friends and strangers alike in this study in dignity, strength of character, tolerance and perseverance. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Startling, subversive and heartbreaking, A Disobedient Girl
offers a window into the lives of two unforgettable women. Read this novel for the beauty of the writing and the pleasure of discovering a uniquely gifted storyteller.” —Danielle Trussoni, New York Times
bestselling author of Angelology
“A Disobedient Girl
is a lush, sweeping epic about desire and betrayal, hope and perseverance. Ru Freeman is a fierce, unflinching storyteller, her landscape dark and beautiful, her characters unforgettable. I couldn’t put this novel down.” —Aryn Kyle, New York Times
bestselling author of Boys and Girls Like You and Me
and The God of Animals
Freeman tells the story of two women in Sri Lanka, strangers to one another, yet united by an undying love, as they travel towards an unimaginable destiny.
In one of the most impressive debuts of the year, Ru Freeman offers us a mesmerizing tale set in her native Sri Lanka of two women, strangers to one another, whose destinies are inextricably and tragically bound.
In her heart, Latha knows that she was not meant to be a servant. She was born for finer things like the rosesmelling Lux soap she steals, the glasses of fresh lime juice that she helps herself to, and the brand new shoes she begs for. But her fate is dictated by the Vithanages, the family she has been working for since she was five years old. We follow Latha’s story for thirty years as she fights for her dignity and navigates the loss of her innocence, competing with Thara Vithanage—a girl her own age who enjoys every freedom that Latha yearns for but is denied, including the love of an ordinary boy. Interwoven with Latha’s story is the tale of Biso, a devoted mother who has decided to leave her coastal Southern town and escape from her abusive husband, taking her three young children with her. But her journey toward a better life in the mountains results in a series of devastating missteps that connects her life with that of Latha’s in an unexpected and heartbreaking way. A Disobedient Girl is a compelling exploration of personal desire set against the volatile backdrop of class and prejudice as two women journey toward their future, united by a shared history but separated by different fates.
About the Author
Ru Freeman is a Sri Lankan writer whose political journalism and fiction has been published internationally. She lives in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.