It was the perfect marriage… until they fell in love.
Chaya is a young woman torn between her duty to family and her life in the UK. While her traditional Sri Lankan parents want her to settle down into marriage, what they don’t know is that Chaya has turned away the one true love of her life, Noah, terrified of their disapproval.
Gimhana is hiding his sexuality from his family. It’s easy enough to pretend he’s straight when he lives half a world away in the UK. But it’s getting harder and harder to turn down the potential brides his parents keep finding for him.
When Chaya and Gimhana meet, a marriage of convenience seems like the perfect solution to their problems. Together they have everything – friendship, stability and their parents’ approval. But when both Chaya and Gimhana find themselves falling in love outside of their marriage, they’re left with an impossible decision – risk everything they’ve built together, or finally follow their heart?
Will they choose love, or carry on living a lie?
This is a really engrossing and moving story about the many different kinds of love that exist outside of romantic love and how, despite ourselves, many of us make choices which are more about pleasing other people and deciding not to rock the boat, than being true to ourselves, but whichever path we take, pitfalls lie ahead.
Both Chaya and Gimhana are Sri Lankans living in the UK. They come from traditional families and are torn between loyalty to their parents back in Sri Lanka and alternative futures that they are building for themselves in the West. Both Chaya and Gimhana are hiding parts of themselves from their families and find they cannot be truly themselves until they meet each other. Because they are both keeping secrets, and being torn between loyalty and love, they find in each other the only other person who really understands them.
I felt very deeply for both Gimhana and Chaya and the necessity they felt in being what people expected of them, rather than just being themselves. To a lesser degree, this is something many of us can relate to because many of us are subject of family pressures and expectations. However, this is heightened when it comes to the demands of very strict traditional families and the society in which they live in Sri Lanka, which can be extremely judgmental.
Jeevani builds the image of the Sri Lankan family in great detail and extremely vividly and I completely understood where Chaya and Gimhana were coming from and why they were so torn. Their love and respect for their families forces them to deny the other loves that come into their lives, but it is impossible to maintain a facade indefinitely. I could feel the pain and the yearning coming from both of them, and it was incredibly affecting.
There are some beautiful characters and relationships in this book, as well as intimate portrayals of struggles with mental health and homosexuality in a society which is not accepting of this identity. Parts of the books were very painful to read, and the author really takes the reader under the characters’ skins and lets us live their experiences with them. The book had a slow beginning but it go more engrossing as it went along and by the end I could not put it down.
The book really moved me and made me think deeply about how much some of us take for granted and how little we know of the struggles other people face but how, if we look closely enough, we have enough shared experience to allow us to empathise with and support those who may seem different initially. In the end, all of these experiences are human experiences. A really fantastic love story with a difference. I highly recommend it.
A Convenient Marriage is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.
About the Author
Jeevani Charika writes women’s fiction and contemporary romances with a hint of British cynicism. (In case you were wondering, it’s pronounced Jeev-uh-nee.)
There’s a whole lot of other stuff she could tell you – but mainly: she’s a former scientist, an adult fan of Lego, an embarrassing mum, a part time geek (see ’embarrassing mum’) and a Very Short Person.
She also writes romantic comedy under the pen name Rhoda Baxter. So why the two names? Well… Jeevani writes about British-Sri Lankan main characters. Rhoda, not so much.
Connect with Jeevani:
Facebook: Jeevani Charika