Of marriageable age

Author: Sharon Maas
Title: "Of marriageable age"
Date of publication: 1999
Type of story: romance
Main characters: Savitri, David, Sarojini (called Saroj, Savitris adopted daughter), Nataraj (David’s and Savitri’s son)
This is a love story but not an ordinary one since it describes the lives of four people who are ralated to one another. The plot describes four lives in two decades but these are built up chronologically. The action is quite complex since the reader does not know how the different characters are related to one another, this turns out step by step and only in the ending one can understand the whole relationship of the characters, which are very well drawn. However Savitri’s perspective is presented most strongly, because she is maybe the most charismatic charakter and although she dies, she is still important for the further happenings in the story.

The whole story begins in pre - war India, which is still an English - colony at that time, where David and Savitri are born. David as the son of a rich English Family and Savitri as the daughter of their cook. However the children grow up together because David’s mother is for some reason not able to breastfeed the baby, so she calls Savitri’s mother with her baby to live with her and David. David and Savitri become the best friends, but Savitris brother, Mani, begins to think that it was just Savitri’s fault that his mother had to leave him because of these English people. But he does not let them know how he is feeling yet. Problems turn up, when Savitri and David grow older, because their parents consider that it is not appropriate anymore that they are together all the time. So David is sent to England for school and Savitri gets engaged although she is still too young to marry. They promise each other that they will keep writing letters and David gives a golden cross on a necklace to Savitri. They also give each other the promise to marry once. Then he is sent away and Savitri suffers a lot. And although she keeps writing letters to him, she never receives an answer. What neither of them knows: Parts of their families don’t want them to receive each other’s letters. So, David seems to forget and Savitri, too, although she somehow knows, that there is something between them, begins to believe that he doesn’t want to keep his promise. So the years pass by but one day David comes back home. He has nearly forgot about Savitri and all he still remembers is a young girl. But then they meet and David falls in love, seeing a woman, known as Savitri in front of him. However Savitri is engaged and her parents as well as David’s won’t let them marry. So the decide to run away, but their attempt to flee fails, because Savitri’s brother, Mani, finds them. She is taken away from David to marry another man, but the one she was engaged with, doesn’t want to take her as his wife any more, because she was touched by an English man. So all she gets is an elder widower. And if that wasn’t enough, all her children die... some before they are born, because her husband beats her, and one afterwards, because it is killed by someone. Then she gets another child, which her husband, too, loves very much, but both of them, the man and the child are killed by an accident. So Savitri goes away to become a nurse in Singapore, because there is war. There she meets David again, who has become a doctor and also works there in a hospital. Again they fall in love and these are maybe the most happiest days in their lives. But then evil troops come to town and kill everybody in the hospital David has worked in. Savitri is said that he has died and so she goes away, thinking that she has lost everything she loved. She, however, discovers then that she is pregnant, pregnant with David’s child. Savitri gives birth to the baby - boy in a katholic hospital, and decides to call him Nataraj. But then Mani turns up again and kidnaps the new - born baby. Savitri isn’t able to find him anymore. She then gets married to a man away in an Indian colony in South America. What she doesn’t know is, that Mani has given Nat to orphanage and that David has survived. Some years later David finds Mani and he tells him that Savitri has given birth to a child. David finds out where his son is and takes him with him. In the meanwhile Savitri has given birth to three children... well, one of them, the youngest daughter, Saroj, is adopted, but she doesn’t know it and Savitri won’t tell her. Saroj grows older and she is very intelligent, so she wants to study in London once. But Baba, her father wants her to found a traditional family once and he would force her to do so. So, one day, Saroj runs away to stay at her friend’s, Trixie’s, and with her mother who are Africans. But one evening, just after her mother has phoned Saroj, and told her that she would go to England with her, they get the message that there was a fire at their house, and Savitri, who was home alone, has died. Saroj is very depressed and decides to go to England on her own together with Trixie.
Nat, who has grown up in a small indian village goes to England too, because his father wants him to study medicine. There he and Saroj meet one day. Nat loves the English women and they loved him, but Saroj is called the "ice - princess" because she wouldn’t have a date with any boy. But then, as I said before, the two of them meet and terribly fall in love. They decide to go back to India to Nat’s father and finally they do so. But there, back in David’s house, Saroj suddenly discovers a painting of Savitri her mother and the young couple is desperate because they think that they are brother and sister. But then an old friend of the family brings along a letter of Savitri, her last one, which says that Saroj was adopted. And so it all finds a happy ending and Saroj and Nat get married.

Personal comment:
This story is not an ordinary love story. It is much more in my opinion since it is sometimes thrilling, sometimes sad and sometimes even amusing. The characters are described so well that you would think you knew them in reality and like Kate Fforde said, "these are characters that will live with you forever". I enjoyed it very much to read this book and I can recommend it to everyone who has enough time to read it! I think it’s a very good reading for the holidays when you can relax and spend the time reading at a calm place.

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