This was a very beautiful novel that made me reminisce of another great Indian novel - The Alchemy of Desire.
Beauty is a Wound isn’t known as good as the other, but I foresee that it will follow in its path. They share many qualities.
What is it with Indian writers and their grasp of love, romance and sex?
It's eye-opening how they toss aside the social stigma and really tell what goes on between man and woman.
Beauty is a Wound begins with the resurrection of Dewi Ayu after being dead for 21 years. The first thing she does is go back to her own house, where she meets her youngest daughter for the first time.
That’s the beginning of the life of Dewi Ayu that will be marked by events long before she was born and will be influenced with historic events.
As a little girl she is growing up in a dutch household, being the result of a love affair between her grandparents son and her grandfathers illegitimate love child with an Indian concubine. They flee the country leaving their child in the care of their parents.
Dewi Ayu grows up in the last years of duth colonisation, just before the outbreak of WW2 and the invasion of Japan.
Her grandfather is being forced to join the army and her grandmother and aunt flee India as well, but Dewi Ayu is persistent to remain and face the invasion of those squinty eyes yellow soldiers. While she is alone in the house, she hears the story of the first love of her grandmother from mothers side.
When she became the love interest of a dutchman she had to leave her Indian love behind. Dewi Ayu persists in wanting to marry this old man which ultimately leds to his death.
Not long after she is being led away to a prison for women by Japanese soldiers, where she tries to make end’s meet until she is led away to a beautiful mansion.
It becomes clear very quickly that she and some other girls are supposed to prostitute themselves for the Japanese soldiers.
It’s then that she has her first child, Alamanda.
After the World War she continues to be a whore and her second and third child soon follow, Adinda and Maya Dewi.
As they grow up they become as beautiful as their mother, which each a story filled with joy and sorrow.
All of their stories are beautifully intertwined, which is a majestic feat.
The manner in which Dewi Ayu sees the words is both heartbreaking as it is sober. She’s got no patience for feeling sorry for herself or for others. Coldblooded as she may seem, she has her family’s best interest in mind.
This novel never let me down, continuing to pique my interest. It’s quite a lenghty novel, but it never felt like this. It read as fluently as water flows in a mountain stream. Silky language and filled with good intentions, to which they ultimately pay the price.
A perfectly suitable quote sums up the gist of this novel:
And now it's time for me to prepare Christmas' Eve dinner. Only 18 different dishes..