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Black Orchids by Gillian Slovo

Black Orchids (2008)

by Gillian Slovo

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Sri Lanka/Ceylon. Milton, Verena, Evelyn and Emil and racism ( )
  Mumineurope | Aug 14, 2010 |
This is the first novel I have read by this author. It is set in both Ceylon (as it was then called) and England and covers a period of twenty five years from the 1940s in Ceylon, to England from the 1950s to the 1970s and then back to Ceylon. I was really drawn in from the beginning of the story. The main character Evelyn is an English girl born and raised in Ceylon. The country is on the verge of independence and Evelyn's family is set to return to England when she meets and falls in love with Emil Raymundo, a Sinhalese man from a wealthy family. As a result she refuses to marry the kind but dull Tommy and marries Raymundo in spite of the opposition of his family. They leave Ceylon in the 1950s with their son Milton and later have a daughter Vanessa. I enjoyed the first half of the book which described life in Britain in the 50s for a mixed race family. Raymundo's flamboyance is disliked both by his family and the British and there are some beautaifully described scenes such as sports day at their son's boarding school. but without revealing too much of the story, I felt that the book lost its way a little in the second half and was not so convincing. But I still in the end thought it was worth reading and would be interested to read another of this author's books as a point of comparison. ( )
  kiwifortyniner | Aug 13, 2009 |
I always find stories set in Colonial times fascinating when they cover the era of transition into independence. This novel is set in Ceylon as it moves towards becoming Sri Lanka. The main characters are both rebellious in their own families and end up together with the problems of mixed marriages, rejection from families and the problems that their children face, especially in somewhere like England in the post-war years.The extra fascination is to watch the change in relationships over time and in different countries with the new pressures that are placed on it. ( )
  cathsbooks | Aug 11, 2009 |
A tale of a couple both born and brought up in Sri Lanka - meet while young - he is brown and she is white. Marry against parents wishes - move to UK, [more the wife's wishes than husbands], husband and children suffer racism and classism, especially hurtful at school. Woman becomes depressed - disappears - husband tells the children she died in a car accident, even takes them to her "grave." The son gets through a period at posh, boarding school and then at state school, visits Sri Lanka when older and finds he is comfortable at last. Finds his mother too.
  mairangiwoman | Apr 25, 2009 |
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To Ronald Segal
for a friendship that crossed generations
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When Evelyn looked at the toddy tapper, he looked away.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 184408311X, Hardcover)

When the genteely impoverished and rebellious Evelyn marries the charming Emil, scion of a privileged Sinhalese family, she thinks that her dream of a life in England can now at last come true. So the family travel, with their young son Milton, from Ceylon to Tilbury Docks. But this is England in the 1950s and, no matter how hard Evelyn wishes that it would, England does not take kindly to strangers, especially families who are half black and half white. A profound and moving novel, this is the story about the search to feel at home in your own skin.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:19 -0400)

Set in London from the late 1950s, Gillian Slovo's novel tells the story of why a girl gives up her much loved father to the law.

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