Having become thoroughly disgusted after perusing the paper, I decided to finish a book I've been reading. Upon finishing it and after reading through the Epilogue, I knew I had to recommend this one.
The Girl From The Coast, by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, tells the story of a young teen girl from a poverty-stricken coastal fishing village. The people are peaceful, hard workers, who sell their fish to the rich folks in the city for half of what they are deserving of. The girl, oblivious to the ways of the noble class of the city, finds herself taken away and brought to the city to marry a rich and powerful man whom she has never met. She resists for some time, but through the encouraging and at times forceful words of her parents, who think they are doing what is best for their child by removing her from a life of poverty, she finally accepts her fate and settles in to her new life as a Bandaro's wife. She soon bonds with her servant, who teaches the girl how to be a proper wife.
In time, she learns the Bandaro has not been forthcoming in his purpose for taking her as his wife, and only afterwards learns she is pregnant with his child. What follows is a story that leads to betrayal and heartbreak. This is not a story that has a nice packaged ending. It does, though, have the elements of survival and in fighting for what you believe in intertwined throughout, leaving the reader sad, angry and cheering on those rare moments when personal truth comes to the surface. It touches on the class system, on the beliefs of this system: "The poor are a dirty, shameful lot." "The rich are a noble, worthy lot." Religion is thrown in throughout, to add both clarity and conflict.
What makes this all the more incredible and enjoyable is the fact that this story is (loosely) based on real life events of one of the author's family members. And interestingly and sadly enough, the author spent several years as a political prisoner, without trial, in Indonesia. The last few paragraphs of the epilogue (which was not included in the original novel) had me in absolute tears, although I must admit this book touched on most every emotion and political/social/religious belief I have.
While it may be a bit of a slow moving story for those used to the typical novel americana, it will hold your attention.