Book Review :A tale of two young women | Sunday Observer

Book Review :A tale of two young women

Title: Adaraneeya Samanallu, Genre Fiction, 2015
Author: Dammika Manage
ISBN# 978-955-31-0501-1

I recently picked up this novel, published by Sarasavi Publishers, at the Seewali bookshop, while vacationing in Kandy, for the purpose of some light reading during the long journey back home. A few chapters later I realized there is nothing light about Adaraneeya Samanallu, but something deep and unique, about the fable by Dr. Dammika Manage. A couple of days later I reached the end, page 386, inspired and softened (for the lack of a better term to describe my state of mind).

Now I feel like talking about it.

The novel starts with a short note from Dr. Manage where she attempts to translate to Sinhala and interpret a famous quote from Ernest Hemingway, in his, A Farewell to Arms: “the world breaks everyone and afterwards some are strong at the broken places.”

The story begins when a young female teacher named, Anuththara arrives to take over her first assignment in a remote village. It then revolves around her newfound friend, Nilanga, her family and two diametrically opposite men with whom the two girls fall in love.

The book may not fall into classical literature or popular fiction categories. It does not address how any socio-economic dynamics shape the characters nor does it delve deep inside the psychological contours of protagonists or their antagonists. It does not have a single reference to politics. There are no violent episodes, and, zero commentary dealing with explicit sex scenes.

Sounds bland…

Still it was an exciting reading experience for me.

Dr. Manage simply tells a story effectively, to reveal the innocence and beauty, inner and outer, of two young women. She captures the attention of the readers early, manages to hold them throughout, and finally, leave them inspired, by her story telling skills.

The author’s writing style is placid but at the same time demonstrates a sophistication that only experienced writers can accomplish. Her grasp of the Sinhala language is masterful. She develops characters in such a way that the reader is promptly attracted to them and also to the storyline. In addition to young characters, there are two side actors who are elderly. Nilanga’s aunt who lives with them is depicted as a nuisance to the girls, but, Dr. Manage does not fail to see the humanity of this old woman who still lives in a different era, battling her own demons. Anuththara’s father, in spite of belonging to an older generation with a traditional outlook, happens to be quite understanding of his daughter’s feelings and needs.

Two beautiful girls operate with dissimilar mindsets in their lives: one an introvert and the other an extravert. But, both depict certain innocence in their hearts. Their beauty and innocence may have been the reason for the title of the book, Adaraneeya Samanallu. The ability of Dr. Manage to see the goodness of human heart may be a reason why the novel would be popular, especially, with young readers.

Both girls seek love on their own terms. Nilanga falls in love with someone Anuththara hates, who goes for a safer option. At times, the reader may wonder why Dr. Manage does not reveal the temptation Nilanga had for her playboy lover. But. it would have disturbed the innocence one feels throughout the book.

The love Anuththara feels for her adopted daughter is also depicted in a very humane manner, adding to the feel good nature of the book.

The grand finale of the story is not necessarily splendid, but unanticipated and bittersweet. One may apprehend Dr. Manage’s interpretation of Ernest Hemingway’s famous quote from A Farewell to Arms at the end.

- Pramod Kandanarachchi 
Brecksville, OH