Suzanne Ruta
August 11, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Cinnamon Gardens

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Shyam Selvadurai
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A

A century of British rule has left Ceylon’s upper classes so steeped in Anglophilia that by 1927 — the year in which Cinnamon Gardens is set — they no longer live their own lives but become entangled in intrigues borrowed from Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde. A hapless mother frets over three marriage-ready daughters. A cruel father threatens his gay son’s lover. The gifted author (”Funny Boy”), now living outside his native Sri Lanka, crams this elegant novel with period decors, costumes, political debates, and geography lessons. But what stays with you is the struggle of two finely drawn characters: a spirited young woman and a melancholy gay man who try to escape the tyranny of parents and British mentors and achieve a lonely inner freedom.

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