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The Girl from the Coast    by Pramoedya Ananta Toer order for
Girl from the Coast
by Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Softcover

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*   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The novel was translated by Willem Samuels. Its author, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, tells a simple tale of a complex situation. A young girl is forced to leave her small fishing village in Java to be the 'practice wife' of a nobleman. At fourteen, the girl from the coast (as she is referred to throughout the novel) is hardly ready for marriage, let alone having to leave her family and village behind her to enter a world of intrigue and loneliness.

Unready for the life she must now live, the girl from the coast tries to adjust only to find that this is not what is expected of her. Her reaction to adversity is to meet it headlong and adapt - not an easy task for one so young. The author lives inside the head of the girl from the coast, so that the reader experiences her thoughts and fears, and tends to identify with her youth. The Girl from the Coast is told in simple but beautiful words and reaches an ending that one might not wish for this gentle person.

Toer is a prolific author, having written more than thirty books. This is the first of his works that I have read. At times, the story seemed to be marching in place, going nowhere, seemingly without end (possibly something was lost in the translation). Then the author gilds his words with an ethereal pen and leads the reader back to the story line. The tidbits of life lived in that part of the world are fascinating; an interesting tale from an interesting man.

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