CDN$ 11.99
  • List Price: CDN$ 14.99
  • You Save: CDN$ 3.00 (20%)
FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.ca.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Sweet and Simple Kind Paperback – May 10 2011


See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
CDN$ 11.99
CDN$ 9.46 CDN$ 0.39

Best Books of 2014
Unruly Places is our #1 pick for 2014. See all


Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; Reprint edition (May 10 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349121745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349121741
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 4.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #841,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"There is much to commend. . . . As one of her characters comments, 'Jane Austen's observation of society was part critical, part amused.' That quality is evident here."  —Sunday Times


"Sensitively observed, at once a bold novel of national consciousness and a tender tale of family and friendship."  —Sunday Business Post

About the Author

Yasmine Gooneratne was born in Sri Lanka, and finished her studies in the UK. She won acclaim as a critic and has published several works of literary criticism and one previous novel. THE SWEET AND SIMPLE KIND is her first novel to be available in the UK.

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on Amazon.ca
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Ambitious, engaging, but a bit soft around the edges July 17 2011
By Cary Watson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Yasmine Gooneratne is Sri Lankan born and bred, and her native country is the setting for this ambitious novel that details the changes that gripped Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) from independence in 1948 to the race riots in 1958 that foreshadowed the civil war that began in 1983.

Gooneratne centres her story around two female cousins, Latha and the rather portentously named Tsunami. The latter is from the rich side of the Wijesinha family, while Latha's family is decidedly middle-class. The two girls become fast friends as young girls at Lucas Falls, a large house and tea plantation owned by Tsunami's father, Rowland. Latha visits Lucas Falls on her vacations and is a witness to what amounts to the moral decline and fall of Tsunami's family over the course of the next dozen or so years.

When we first meet Rowland he's married to Helen, a skilled amateur artist originally from India, and their lifestyle is in most respects that of an upper-class English family. Their taste in literature is Anglocentric, Helen's art is Western, their peers are often Oxbridge educated, cricket is an obsession, and their children attend elite local schools modeled on institutions like Eton and Harrow. In sum, they're almost more English than the English.

Gooneratne depicts Latha and Tsunami's early years at Lucas Falls as a kind of Eden in which the two girls discover a shared love of books and learning. Helen is the muse of this paradise, encouraging the girl's curiosity, discussing art and literature with them, and generally encouraging a liberal way of thinking. The dark cloud in paradise is Rowland, who acts the part of the English gentleman, but soon becomes influenced by the rising tide of Sinhala nationalism that will eventually tear the country apart. Rowland is from an ancient Sinhala family and becomes caught up in politics after Independence in 1948. In what almost seems a symbolic act, he disparages Helen's art, and not long after that Helen leaves Rowland for Mr Goldman, a German rep of tea wholesalers.

The rest of the novel follows Latha and Tsunami as they navigate the difficulties of love and courtship in Ceylon's deeply conservative society, and struggle with life at university. Meanwhile, in the background, Ceylon's post-colonial political life becomes more vicious, culminating in deadly race riots aimed at the Tamil minority. Rowland moves further along the path of Sinhala nationalism and his family becomes as fractured as the country itself, with his two eldest children, Ranil and Tara, becoming as morally vicious as the political conflict.

Gooneratne is a professor of 19th century English literature, with a special interest in Jane Austen, and it shows in her writing, for good and not quite so good. On the plus side, she knows how to spin out a family saga and juggle multiple storylines and characters. This makes the novel very readable, almost addictively so, and her characterization is usually very sharp. The political elements are skillfully interwoven, and even non-Sri Lankans, such as myself, should have no problem understanding the political and cultural makeup of the county.

The problem with this novel is is its gentility, its cosiness. Gooneratne can be brutally realistic at times, but on too many occasions characters and events are bathed in a warm glow of sentimentality and nostalgia. And this also applies to the plot. The middle section of the novel is mostly taken up with Latha and Tsunami's life at university, and too much of it reads like an affectionate, but static, memoir of university life.

The Sweet and Simple Kind is well worth reading, if only for the elegance of Gooteratne's prose. For example, here's a short passage describing the Lucas Falls estate:

When the wreaths of mist lift, leaving the grass wet with dew, mornings on the estate clink and ring with birdsong, sounding very much as if a crowd of children were jingling thin silver coins in their pockets, considering the possibilities.

Writing that good doesn't come along nearly often enough.

Read more of my reviews at JettisonCocoon dot com.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Delicious Sweeping Contemporary History June 23 2011
By Kathleen J. Leonhardt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Had to have major surgery at beginning of month and someone brought this book saying that as I love history, India, Pakistan and SriLanka-- I would love this--kind of thought the title was a bit 'out-of-here' but boy! Once I got started I couldn't put it down! Absolutely swept up in post colonial Ceylon(Sri Lanka)--and the birthing of the current state-- interwoven with asian contemporary coming-of-age. This book describes the British cultural influence to the nth degree--I almost could see the Bird's Custard and stewed fruit on the dining room table--yet so beautifully paints the Sri Lankan cultural experience as an underlying flow penetrating the whole. This book sometimes reminded me of 'Midnight's Children' by S Rushdie as the author describes the 50's and 60's in Ceylon(SriLanka)as a wonderful toss of western culture and values re-mixed with a combo Hindu, Sengelese,Tamil,English flavor! The gist of the book follows a prominent SriLankan family's journey from the 40's up to the early 60's--against political pressures, nationalism, the ideals of a new nation, education, romance,and family life.Two cousins--one from the richer side of the family--and one the poorer--grow up together and go off to university--then launch to adulthood. The author is a poet so I was not surprised at the lyrical writing--this was a written 'movie'--sometimes the British university environment was a bit much and the main character, 'Latha' a little too good for words--but overall--loved. Many paradoxical moments--arranged marriages against liberal education; pretending cultural identity to achieve political prominence; inspiring ethnic division to retain power--you will always think deeper the next time you drink your tea!

Look for similar items by category


Feedback