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Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna
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Tiger Hills (2010)

by Sarita Mandanna

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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
This one took me a long time to read. I enjoyed it. ( )
  vgusg1rl | Jan 23, 2014 |
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in a Goodreads giveaway.

It's hard to write a review when there's nothing wrong with the writing, but you hate the main character. The writing flows nicely, and the author has a talent for describing people's personalities with nice turns of phrase. I just can't completely love a book when I intensely dislike the main character (Devi).

There's not one redeeming characteristic in this woman. Did a terrible thing happen to her? Yes, definitely. Was she spoiled and self-obsessed both before and after the terrible event? Unfortunately, yes. Having a bad thing happen to you doesn't give you the right to treat everyone else like garbage for the rest of your life. If the point of the book is "Don't be like this person!", it succeeds brilliantly.

I'll certainly keep an eye out for future books by Sarita Mandanna, hopefully with more likeable characters. ( )
  akswede | Oct 14, 2013 |
For this review, I am deviating from my normal format. Instead of summarizing the book first and then writing a review, the order will be reversed. First will be a brief review of how I felt about the book generally and why, along with some readalikes. Then comes a spoiler-filled summary of the book. If you think you would like to read the book, do not go on to the summary portion. My reason for doing so is that I cannot really express my feelings for the book without spoilers. However, no one should stumble upon a spoiler unwittingly.

Review:
Tiger Hills is a book dealing with rather awful people living in awful circumstances who have terrible things happen to them all the time. Or, as the author put it in the novel: "Sometimes, it would seem we are simply cast in the path of misfortune" (450). However, I felt no sympathy for these people, as their problems were largely of their own making and they always reacted to them in the worst way possible. Not a single character did I like, so I mostly just waited for the book to finally, mercifully end. I do not doubt, though, that this book will be quite popular with book clubs. I highly recommend this book to fans of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and Brick Lane by Monica Ali.

Spoiler-Filled Summary of Tiger Hills (Read at your own discretion):
Devanna's mother ran back to her family to escape her philandering husband. Not long after, she commits suicide, leaving her son Devanna, to the care of her family. Devanna becomes inseparable from a neighborhood girl, Devi. His father's family is not particularly interested in Devanna at first, but they do arrange for him to attend the local mission school. Devanna refuses to go unless Devi goes too, so she does.

At school, Devi and Devanna begin to grow apart. He quickly proves himself an incredibly brilliant boy and is taken under the wing of the Reverend who runs the school. Devi is not spectacular, though she is very pretty, and starts focusing more on girly habits, less on running around with Devanna. The Reverend helps to get Devanna into medical school, although he does not want to be so far from the boy (who reminds him of his dear friend from the past, now dead, who he may, perhaps, have had a romantic love for, whether he knew it or not), so he sends him to the school in Bangalore instead of Oxford.

A bully in medical school does horrible things to Devanna, targeting him for being the smartest and for his non-reaction to the initial ragging. Devanna was treated much like a social leper, because kindness to him would incur the bully's wrath. It is unclear, but likely, that the bully even went so far as to sodomize Devanna. Devanna's only consolation is to think of Devi and write her letters and think of visits home. The visits are always anticlimactic, but, on one fateful visit, she gives him a squirrel to keep as a pet when he leaves for school again. The squirrel, Nancy, gains him friends and keeps his spirits up. Of course, the bully finds out and disembowels (they are med students after all) the squirrel, leaving her alive through the whole process. This is too much for Devanna, who starts a fight, loses and quits medical school, running home to his province of Coorg.

Meanwhile, years before, Devi had gone to see the Tiger Wedding (weird ceremony that does not involve a wedding for a man who has slain a tiger) of Machu and instantly falls in love with him, though she is years younger and still a child. Devi swears to marry him one day, and, years later, is making good progress. He has sword to remain chaste, so has done his best to resist her, but their love is too strong, so he has promised to marry her when his vow is up.

Back to Devanna, who is coming home to Coorg disgraced and upset to find that Devi is likely to marry his cousin. He has always loved her and believes that she is his. So he rapes her outside in the field while she yells for him to stop. Then her family forces her to marry him, saying that Machu would never want her now. No one but them knows what transpired, so Machu is pissed at her betrayal. Since Machu and Devanna are cousins, they are now all in the same household, with Devi sworn never to forgive Devanna.

Devi gets pregnant from her rape, giving birth to a son, named Nanju. She can never really care for him, because of the taint of his conception. Not too long after, Devi begins an affair with Machu, who hates himself and her for it. She will not tell him that she has never slept with Devanna voluntarily (or more than that once). When Devanna finds out, he attempts to commit suicide, to free Devi. And fails. Although he does manage to cripple himself for life, saddling her with his care for the rest of her life.

Devi, Devanna and son move to a separate house for Devanna's sake. Devi and Machu are of course done, though they continue to long for each other from across family gatherings. Devi tries to get Machu to start up again, accusing him of still wanting her, as he has not yet married. So he marries and has a son of his own, Appu. When the family patriarch dies, he leaves nothing but the house they live in to Devanna, so Machu gives her his share, a coffee plantation next to the house (she does not know this).

Devi becomes rich working the coffee plantation, thanks to some intelligent suggestions from Devanna. Machu, now without income because he gave away his inheritance, joins the army and dies not long after. Devi convinces Appu's mom to let her care for him, as she can give him a better life and an inheritance. The mom relents and then commits suicide.

Devi is not bothered by that and happily raises Appu, while mostly ignoring Nanju. The boys go to school at the mission together at first, but Appu gets an offer to go study at a further away, fancier school. Appu learns while at school that his mother will give him all the money he wants and takes advantage of that. He does all sorts of awful things, like arranging cockfights. On a visit home, Appu has an affair with a married woman at the local club; then, at school, he uses moms money to find women. Nanju is a devoted son who studies agriculture to take over the coffee plantation.

The success of the coffee comes and goes, with the family nearly going bankrupt and losing everything at one point, saved at the last moment by the death of the Reverend (who had refused ever to speak to Devanna after he raped Devi, but left his estate to him anyway). Devi sends Appu to post WWI Germany to sign the papers to get the money from the Reverend's estate, arranging a marriage with her gorgeous niece (or something like that), Baby, so that he will be sure to return. Even with this inducement, Appu spends a long time boozing, smoking pot and conducting an affair with a harlot.

Devi, while waiting for Appu's return, informs Nanju that Appu will be inheriting the plantation attached to the house, but that she has purchased a larger plot of land in the south for Nanju. Nanju is rightly pissed, as he is the older son and has dedicated his life to the Tiger Hills, the home coffee plot. They fight about Devi's devotion for her adopted son and she tells him that she has always hated him, revealing the secret of his conception. Nanju leaves for the south. Devi is now devastated by the loss of the son she never loved.

Baby and Appu marry, but cannot produce children. The bloom does not remain on the rose for long. He gets the idea of a political career in his head (which goes nowhere like all of his schemes) and spends all of his time drinking at the club, which Baby hates. Appu has affairs and accomplishes nothing. And after hundreds of pages of Nanju being jealous of Appu for mother's love, now the reader gets to enjoy pages about how Appu is now jealous of Nanju. Word is received that Nanju has died and the family falls apart even more.

In the wake of all of this tragedy, Devanna starts wasting away, so Devi decides to forgive him. The only thing I liked about Devi was that she didn't forgive him, because that is not a forgivable thing, but oh well. That's pretty much the end (thank god), except for the epilogue, which reveals that Nanju faked his death. And I didn't care. I actually saw it coming.

That's a really long summary, so imagine how long the book is. Oy. And I really don't know what I was supposed to get out of it, except that life is terrible, affairs always happen and that no one can ever be with someone they love. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
Devi and Devanna are inseparable when they are children, but then she develops a huge crush on Devanna's older cousin Machu, the tiger killer, and he has his education at the mission school and then college to take him away from Devi's world. When they are adults, she still wants Machu, but due to an unexpected and violent turn of events, she and Devanna have to marry. They get by, but are not happy, and their son ends up growing up in the shadow of Machu's orphaned son who means so much more to Devi. So the issues of the parents live on to the next generation.

I found this book easy to read; the family and relationship drama didn't seem that different from many other books, but it was nice to read something set in a place and time I have read less about: southern India from around 1880 to 1940s. ( )
  mari_reads | Mar 2, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Reading this sprawling novel had its fill of ups and downs. Beginning in 1878 and moving forward to 1936, it takes place in Coorg, India. It’s difficult to pin it down to one theme as so much is addressed in the novel: star-crossed love; redemption; intergenerational secrets; the growing independence of India as it pulls away from Britain’s rule.

The writing is steeped in the deep-rooted culture of India, and the reader truly feels they are in the story because of the lush details of setting. It is a very descriptive novel; this, combined with the coverage of an expansive time period, makes it a fairly time-intensive read.

The love story embedded in the novel is very touching, and one can’t help but root for the characters. But there was a haunting sense throughout the novel that the characters were never fully developed, and that the reader never really got to see through to the heart of them. For a reader who needs to really connect with characters, such as myself, this felt dissatisfying.

In the end, this novel is more about the journey than the destination; readers looking for tidy resolution and strong character development may not be satisfied with this tale, but those who enjoy a meandering journey with a rich sense of time and setting will enjoy getting lost in this story. ( )
  Litfan | Dec 16, 2012 |
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In alle tijden, zoet of zwart, ziet niets zo scherp als het blinde hart - spreekwoord uit Kodagu
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Voor mijn grootouders Kambeyanda Dechi & Muddayya en Charimanda Seetha & Biddappa.
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Als op de dag van de geboorte, de dag van de reigers, wist Muthavva dat haar zevende kind bijzonder was.
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Book description
In het jaar 1878 wordt in de familie Nachimanda voor het eerst in zestig jaar een meisje geboren. De mooie en pittige Devi wordt door iedereen aanbeden, en ze raakt bevriend met de weesjongen Devanna. De twee zijn onafscheidelijk en brengen hun jeugd door tussen de heuvels en op de koffieplantages, omringd door de warmte van een in het land gewortelde familie. Hun vriendschap verandert voorgoed wanneer ze op een avond een ÔtijgerbruiloftÕ bijwonen. Hier ontmoet Devi voor het eerst Machu, de vermaarde jager en tijgerdoder. Hoewel Devi nog een meisje is en Machu al een man, zweert zij dat zij op een dag met hem zal trouwen. Ze ziet niet dat Devanna ook verliefd is op haar. Hij verlaat het dorp om te gaan studeren in de hoop dat Devi hem bij zijn terugkomst zal erkennen als haar enige liefde. Maar een hartverscheurende tragedie verandert het lot van alle drie en heeft generaties lang gevolgen.

Sarita Mandanna werd als een van de tien nieuwe talenten van 2010 getipt in The Telegraph. De rechten op haar eerste roman zijn aan vele landen verkocht.

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Sarita Mandanna

"More than a love story, Tiger Hills explores the hazardous side of passion and the shackling grip of memory once love has been thwarted." Editor's Choice, New York Times

"Her novel is like a canvas painted with intense ink. It is a fiery array of imagery dancing in your head to the beat of words." Globe and Mail, Canada

"An epic and extraordinary debut from an astonishing new talent" Daily Express, UK

"Simply magical... Quiet, heartbreaking and lyrical, Tiger Hills has everything you want." The Week, India

"Tiger Hills has been labelled a cross between the Thorn Birds and Gone With the Wind but it's so much more. This is a strong new voice telling us an epic, lyrical tale. One that is likely to haunt you long after you finish reading." People Magazine India

Sarita Mandanna

"More than a love story, Tiger Hills explores the hazardous side of passion and the shackling grip of memory once love has been thwarted." Editor's Choice, New York Times

"Her novel is like a canvas painted with intense ink. It is a fiery array of imagery dancing in your head to the beat of words." Globe and Mail, Canada

"An epic and extraordinary debut from an astonishing new talent" Daily Express, UK

"Simply magical... Quiet, heartbreaking and lyrical, Tiger Hills has everything you want." The Week, India

"Tiger Hills has been labelled a cross between the Thorn Birds and Gone With the Wind but it's so much more. This is a strong new voice telling us an epic, lyrical tale. One that is likely to haunt you long after you finish reading." People Magazine, India
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In turn-of-the-twentieth-century southern India, Devi Nachimada falls in love with Machu, a daring tiger hunter, and in the process endangers her friendship with a motherless boy, Devanna, thus setting the stage for a devastating tragedy.

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