Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Coromandel Sea Change

Blaise and Mary spend their honeymoon at Patna Hall, an Indian hotel on the Coromandel coast. Mary is entranced by the blue morning glory, the green parakeets and mynah birds and giant waves of the sea. She becomes very close to the hotel staff and guests and its owner, Auntie Sanni. She also becomes friends with Krishnan Bhanj who is running for election as the candidate for the Root and Flower Party.

Social climber Blaise is jealous of Mary's affinity with India and suspicious of her innocent friendship with Krishan Bhanj while Mary becomes increasingly disillusioned with her selfish husband and wonders if, at eighteen, she has married too young.

There are vivid scenes of Mary chrystallising cherries and making Mrs Beeton's Pretty Orange Pudding in the hotel's confectionery pantry with Auntie Sanni, helping to wash a decorated elephant on the beach and dressing as the goddess Radha on one of the election floats to help Krishnan with his campaign.

I liked Raffaella Barker's introduction to this book. She recalls reading The Greengage Summer at twelve and makes the interesting point that Rumer Godden is such a gifted writer that the books you love as a teenager are also satisfying on a different level when re-read as an adult.

I've ordered Black Narcissus and Kingfishers Catch Fire. Think I'll have a little staycation and read them in the garden in the summer sunshine.

8 comments:

bookssnob said...

This again sounds fascinating and is making me want to discover Rumer Godden for myself!

A staycation sounds like bliss. I fancy one of those myself.

frisbeebookjournal said...

I haven't read Coromandel Sea Change but it certainly sounds like my kind of thing. I love Godden! I must read one of hers this summer.

musingsfromthesofa said...

These are lovely reissues of Rumer Godden. The only one I read as a child was The Diddakoi, which I recommend. I found The Greengage Summer a bit odd, and The Battle at the Villa Fiorentina heartbreaking.

Danielle said...

I loved The Greengage Summer, which I read at the very end of last year. I then bought as many books as I could find by her and am looking forward to reading more. Coromandel Sea change is high on my list--it sounds wonderful.

makedoandread said...

I love the thought of a staycation, especially if there are Godden novels to be read. I hope your new books get there soon!

Vintage Reading said...

booksnob - it's such a pleasure to sit and read in the garden - last night the light was good until nearly 10.00. Must do it more often.

frisbee, perfect summer reading. I can't do heavy Victorian stuff in the summer or even autobiographies. I like novels set in sultry hot lanscapes and Gooden is brilliant at drawing on her childhood memories of India.

musingsfromthesofa, I like the hot colours on the Godden re-issues. My local bookshop is having problems getting all of the titles I've ordered. Not read Villa Fiorentina, must try and get that one.

Danielle, Coromandel Sea Change is exceptionally good. The one I really want to read is Black Narcissus, but I'm having a job getting a copy - I want to compare it with the film.

makedoandread, I've now read all the titles I've managed to track down. Still a few outstanding and the biog.

Danielle said...

My library has both the film and book of The Black Narcissus--I want to read it, but I am drawn to her others just a little more at the moment. I hope you find a copy!

Shelley said...

I can never see "Coromandel" without hearing the Edward Lear nonsense song about the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!