Book Jacket

 

rank 394
word count 18925
date submitted 03.09.2010
date updated 05.03.2013
genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
classification: universal
incomplete

God of the Cocoa

Marilyn Rodwell

It is 1918 Trinidad. Latchmin is ten, and keen on school, instead of working in the cane field, or planting rice.


 

She comes home from school one day to find that her parents have arranged a marriage for her. This breaks the promise her mother made to her - that she can stay at school and finish her education. The boy they've chosen is a complete stranger, and the marriage is due to take place within a year. Latchmin is horrified that her mother, who believes herself to be a modern woman in that new complex environment, is reverting to traditions, and what their ancestors have brought from India. Hindu customs appear to take over, because the religion is strong. It is unlucky for a girl to start puberty whilst still at home. That brings fear to the family.

Latchmin struggles to find a way out of it, helped by her friend, Sumati, who is a little older. But things get worse. They are still children and not mature enough to solve the problem to their satisfaction on their own. Out of her depth, Latchmin struggles to be sensible, until she is blamed for Sumati's behaviour and disappearance. She is upset, but cannot give up now.

 
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tags

adversity, altruism, arranged marriage, british, childbirth, commonwealth, conflict, culture, daughters, death, education, family, hope, indentureship...

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226 comments

 

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Andi Brown wrote 1071 days ago

Marilyn,

This is exceptional. It reads smoothly, with rich description and, especially, characterization. Your portrayal of people and events is vivid and believable. I've only read a couple of chapters, but this is every bit as good as books that actually see publication. And waaaay better than many on this site, having the all-too-rare virtue of consistently correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. My only question: What is meant by Latchmin getting "caught" on the first page? At first I thought it meant her period, but then it became clear she was pre-pubescent. Did it have to do with her illness? That part was a bit fuzzy to me. Otherwise, six stars and backed with pleasure.
Best,
Andi
ANIMAL CRACKER

Elizabeth.NYC wrote 1262 days ago

Dear Marilyn,
Not only is this story deeply moving as fiction, the truth behind it is shattering. When that happens in a book, it becomes so much more than entertainment. What you're doing here is important work. Your narrative is rich with detail, information, and characters that ring true. I feel for both of the "children" and even for the mother, who, after being beaten throughout her life, has now taken on the role of agressor. You have polished the work beautifully so the blending of history, culture, characterization and plot is seamless as I read. I believe readers will embrace Rajnath and Latchmin. This will keep readers involved in the story, hoping for a resolution. I know I do. I believe such a culturally pertinent work will find a wide audience.

Lizzi
(Out of Sync)

lfk wrote 1280 days ago

I was drawn by the pitch which outlined a story in a setting I know little about - immigrant Indians in the Caribbean. You have clearly done a lot of research and I really like the details Hindu traditions, wages etc. It does need some editing to avoid repetition and over explanation, but it has the makings of a very interesting read.
Lorraine
Mannin Boy

tillerman7 wrote 1288 days ago

Marilyn,

You took a topic I had no interest in and turned me 180 degrees. The people in your stories are painted in an endearing fashion which makes me root for them. Keep at your work and good luck.

Steve Kemp

teremoto wrote 1282 days ago

This is a very intriguing story set in a time and place that few people know anything about. It becomes delightfully informative as we see the island economics and the short lived sugar cane industry peter out and force hard choices and even harder ramifications. The Hindu traditions are nicely woven in, working their way through the lives and the relationships of the characters while the pros and cons play out. Tightly written with solid character development and a rewarding infusion of history. Well done.

Lara wrote 154 days ago

This is such a good theme for development. Now you need to rewrite so that it is in Latchmin's voice. That way it will ensure your readers' identification with her. At the beginning, particularly, you have an authorial voice not the child's. It is only when you get to the dialogue that we get nearer to your MC. I think it would be better if you had some earlier scenes with L at school discussing these dilemmas with her friends, and another with her parents arguing about what is right. It could start with L's illness and the corrupt adviser taking the fat gifts.
I hope you revise this. It could do very well.
Rosalind Minett
A RELATIVE INVASION

Lara wrote 154 days ago

This is such a good theme for development. Now you need to rewrite so that it is in Latchmin's voice. That way it will ensure your readers' identification with her. At the beginning, particularly, you have an authorial voice not the child's. It is only when you get to the dialogue that we get nearer to your MC. I think it would be better if you had some earlier scenes with L at school discussing these dilemmas with her friends, and another with her parents arguing about what is right. It could start with L's illness and the corrupt adviser taking the fat gifts.
I hope you revise this. It could do very well.
Rosalind Minett
A RELATIVE INVASION

Reid-Sumter wrote 323 days ago

This was foreign and beautiful. Your writing style is a bit different from most of the book I've encountered. As if all may say, "This is just another Historical Fiction," I'd reply, "To hell its not!". Its interesting work. I really love the development for your plot. Characterization leaves me in awe. It's interesting and keeps me reading. I would love to see more from you and I can't wait to see what else you have in store. I will keep myself updated on your book.

Seringapatam wrote 384 days ago

Marylin, Wow, Elizabeth below says it all. How deep is this??? I found this to be a fantastic read and a book that kept me stuck on the sofa for some hours. The voice in the story is fantastic. One of the best narratives I have read for a while. Immaculate flow to this book and thats one of the other reasons why you can keep the reader so deep into the story. So well done and he Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks. Sean

Brigitte_2 wrote 411 days ago

Hi Marylin, I am intrigued by the first chapter of "God of the Cocoa". I know little about the issues you are treating, whcih makes your book all the more interesting to read. More tomorrow, as it is late now.
I have put you on my shelf and watchlist and stared you, keeping a couple in reserve.
Brigitte x

carol jefferies wrote 412 days ago

Hi Marilyn,

What brilliant writing. I was captivated from the first page. The characters are so well painted, and the realisitic dialogue and undercurrents of conflict makes it an interesting read.

The reader can really sympathize with the ten year old Latchmin's reluctance to have an arranged marriage, especially as her mother promised that her education was to be such an important part of her life.

High stars from me and I wish I could back it but already my bookshelf is full.

Will keep it on my watch list and read some more.

Well done,

Carol Jefferies
(The Witch of Fleet Street)

Tod Schneider wrote 592 days ago

This has a wonderful voice to it, and a lyrical style. We are swept into the main character's dilemma, and (at least us Westerners) sympathize with her greatly. You provide a nice mix of dialogue and description, and its all well interwoven.
Critique-wise, the one thing I might tinker with would be your opening paragraphs. If I was editing this I'd start at "The smell of a feast hit her from the top of the road, long before she reached the rough path that led to the house." (I'd reword it also to get rid of "got down the path" which isn't much of a verb). This is more compelling than starting with back story, even a short one. I would weave in essential information from your current opening as the story progresses in bits and pieces, but right now it's just information rather than compelling storytelling. "Latchmin had no idea why" should be a good hook, if we have not yet been told about the wedding arrangement. So tell us about the feast FIRST, and then the information about the wedding fulfills our curiosity. The current arrangement is like giving us the punchline first, and the joke second.
I hope that makes sense. Other than that, I think you're in good shape, at least at the front end.
Wonderful writing overall!
Best of luck with this!
And if you have any interest in children's literature, please do visit the Lost Wink.
Thanks!
Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/

Zoe Ramone wrote 663 days ago

This is a very refreshing change from the usual Authonomy fare. Well constructed, well written, intriguing and informing. I know nothing about the setting or period you have chosen to write about, but the authority of your writing makes it easy for me to accept that you do. I am swept into this unfamiliar world almost immediately.

I loved the last sentence of your first chapter - it's a perfect invitation to read on. I found your opening paragraph a little less perfect but - in all honesty - that might be my prejudices shining through rather than a fault with your writing. I try to comment as a reader and fear sometimes that I am noticing "flaws" only because I have become too engrossed in the editorial process elsewhere. Nonetheless I would suggest that you make this your opening sentence: "One day Latchmin came home from school to find her parents had arranged a marriage for her. She was still only ten years old." It simply has more impact than telling me that nothing much happens in a sleepy village; although I do understand the appeal of using the sentence as a punchline at the end of a "sleepy" paragraph.

Occasionally, I found myself wanting a line or two of dialogue, especially at the beginning of a new chapter, to break up and illustrate the narrative. Nonetheless, I read quickly and easily - a good thing - and so noticed only one typo ("then the all screamed out"). I'm not saying others aren't there, just that my eyes may have sped past. But I did notice some small signs that suggest at least one more tight edit is required. This is the one that irked me most: "an unusual and odd day". It's nothing major, obviously, but the redundant adjective tripped me up.

This is far from the kind of material I would usually pick up at the bookstore or seek out on Amazon, but after five chapters, I would read on if the calendar allowed and this site lent itself to extended reading.

Neville wrote 667 days ago

God of the Cocoa.
By Marilyn Rodwell.

I have read this book some time back.
It’s a book that lingers in the mind long after putting it down. Deeply moving at times.
A very emotional book, the wedding of a young girl, mistreated by her new mother -in-law.
It’s steeped in sadness all the way through it...the death of the girls...the craving for a Son by Rajnath.
You give a good account of the Indian customs, their beliefs, in a very picturesque way.
Your writing is excellent.
The food preparations for the wedding, comes over nicely as does the explanation of the ‘dowry’.
To a western person, many of the Indian customs are misunderstood...your book has made a start on shedding a light on the subject.
I have learned a few things from it that I didn’t know; I’m pleased to have read it.
I found your book to be, very well written and of interest. A compelling read, once started.
Pleased to up-rate it to six stars, and will shelve again soon as I can.
Would like to know if you upload any further chapters...Well done, Marilyn!

Kind regards,

Neville. The Secrets of the Forest - The Time Zone.

Cyrus Hood wrote 716 days ago

Hello Marilyn,

What a wonderful insight you have in to the world about which you write. You write very evocatively and the story just flows so nicely that before you know it, you have reached 5 chapters. The subject is a brave one to tackle and i suppose it could very easily fall apart if written by any other than an author with your kind of depth of knowledge. but it is more than that, I am guessing that this is a subject of which you have personal experience. Thank you for sharing this work, I could find no typos or grammar mistakes and I applaud your measured use of the vernacular.

Well done and on my watchlist.
Not certain that my work Hellion 2 is within your genre, however i would appreciate your take on my work, when you have a moment. This is book 2 of a series of 4 but it can be read as a stand alone.

regards

Cyrus

Nichola Hunter wrote 740 days ago

It's been on my watch list for such a long time that I forgot about it. Very sorry about that!!! I love the opening chapter of this book - very nice, simple prose with lovely descriptive passages. The dialogue is good, as is the pace. It is a very ambitious first chapter - there is so much information required to set the scene, and this has been skilfully handled – no suggestion of info-dumping – it is woven very carefully into the descriptive prose. It is a very interesting setting - very organic . I feel like you are sewing the seed of the story in the first chapter along, being a gardener, along with your characters.
A couple of editing suggestions: (Please ignore or tell me to shut up if you like)

I wonder if the opening paragraph should be two –
'Latchmin's world was a happy one' is a change from the general to the individual, and is a bit of a jolt without being a new paragraph.
gosh…. someone will hear you … (this line seems to be in the wrong place)

I think there are some slightly overwritten paragraphs – the dogs barking questions and answers is nice but could be slightly too flowery in terms of interfering with the overall scene. (not sure)

She bellowed a gratifying belly laugh – this seems to be a bit out of place as a metaphor at this stage of the scene – I would consider having the idea sneak up on her – maybe she could look startled, or excited – bellow doesn’t do it for me.
The second last sentence is a bit confused – the both (should maybe be just “they looked at each other in triumph (or something – you can’t have success on your face)
I would consider dropping the last sentence altogether.

I am giving this six stars and will shelve later this month. I look forward to reading more over the weekend.

Wanttobeawriter wrote 741 days ago

GOD OF THE COCOA
This is a good story. I felt sorry for Lachin from the start. Can’t imagine what I would have felt like at ten to realize I was getting married. I sympathize with te thought she knows nothing about cooking too. I didn’t know much about that either. You have an effective writing style for this; able to give just enough detail so things are clear; not so much you big down your story. Makes this interesting and fun to read. Highly starred and added to my shelf. Wanttobeawriter: Who Killed the President?

Tiara wrote 745 days ago

Hi Marilyn,

I have just come across God Of the Cocoa and wanted to say that I really like it. It seems an original idea for a story and I was easily able to picture the family and the setting despite having very little knowledge of it. Here, for what they're worth, are some of my observations:

- there are quite a few typos but I'm sure that has already been pointed out to you.

- in a few instances, there are words within the dialogue that feel too modern. I may be wrong but 'messed up her life', 'beating up the mother', 'negative atmosphere', 'zooming around, 'bust my head' and 'action-packed' all sounded a bit out of context to me.

- you start Chapter 4 with 'Four months earlier...' but I wasn't clear without reading on for some time, just how much of the following story was four months earlier. In the end I guessed as far as the next break but I wonder whether it needs to be made more clear?

- at the end of Chapter Five there is a significant incident but for me it seemed to get lost in a lot of words. There were an awful lot of people saying and doing an awful lot of things. In my own writing, I had a scene where a similar, plot-turning discovery is made and the advice from my editor was to stand more clearly in the shoes of my protagonist and focus only on what she would have been seeing, hearing and feeling. The advice helped me to deliver a much more focused piece of action with no loss of impact.

- in a similar way, early in Chapter Six you have people milling about. You describe it as 'People remained outside on the road, talking, asking questions, making assumptions and judgments,' and it struck me as a good place to relay fragments of their whisperings, unattributed to any particular speaker, to give us a sense of the opinions they were offering. Just a thought.

That aside, congratulations on a strong story with engaging characters. I'm usually wary of writing with so much narrative but your style suits the story you are telling and I'm sure that as you revise and edit, this will become a compelling piece of writing.

Good luck with it!

Sandra-Jane Goddard
The Worst Of Lies

Tiara wrote 745 days ago

Hi Marilyn,

I have just come across God Of the Cocoa and wanted to say that I really like it. It seems an original idea for a story and I was easily able to picture the family and the setting despite having very little knowledge of it. Here, for what they're worth, are some of my observations:

- there are quite a few typos but I'm sure that has already been pointed out to you.

- in a few instances, there are words within the dialogue that feel too modern. I may be wrong but 'messed up her life', 'beating up the mother', 'negative atmosphere', 'zooming around, 'bust my head' and 'action-packed' all sounded a bit out of context to me.

- you start Chapter 4 with 'Four months earlier...' but I wasn't clear without reading on for some time, just how much of the following story was four months earlier. In the end I guessed as far as the next break but I wonder whether it needs to be made more clear?

- at the end of Chapter Five there is a significant incident but for me it seemed to get lost in a lot of words. There were an awful lot of people saying and doing an awful lot of things. In my own writing, I had a scene where a similar, plot-turning discovery is made and the advice from my editor was to stand more clearly in the shoes of my protagonist and focus only on what she would have been seeing, hearing and feeling. The advice helped me to deliver a much more focused piece of action with no loss of impact.

- in a similar way, early in Chapter Six you have people milling about. You describe it as 'People remained outside on the road, talking, asking questions, making assumptions and judgments,' and it struck me as a good place to relay fragments of their whisperings, unattributed to any particular speaker, to give us a sense of the opinions they were offering. Just a thought.

That aside, congratulations on a strong story with engaging characters. I'm usually wary of writing with so much narrative but your style suits the story you are telling and I'm sure that as you revise and edit, this will become a compelling piece of writing.

Good luck with it!

Sandra-Jane Goddard
The Worst Of Lies

patio wrote 746 days ago

This book is both educational and emotional. Contemporary Trinidad portray a island of happy people that take part in the yearly carnival. But there's at least one sad story....10 years old Latchmin. I had a big smile on my face as I started chapter one. The food and outdoor market ignited happy memories of my native land. But my smile was whipped off with the introduction of the pending marriage of ten years old, Latchmin. From there on I was gripped to the screen with concerns and worries till the brother highlighted Latchmin inability to cook and therefore should not get married. However, optimism was replaced with further worries......the marriage would happen regardless....

This is my number one book. I read part but intend to read all. And I need hard copy when it published.

Greenleaf wrote 758 days ago

Hi Marilyn,
I can't believe I hadn't read this sooner. It's a wonderful book set in an interesting location (Trinidad). I really feel for Latchmin. How frightened she must be to discover her parents are sending her off to marry at such a young age. Your writing style and the setting remind me of a fable. I love the culture, the dialogue, and the way you inform the reader of the background information in an interesting way. Great job.

Highly starred! I will try to add it to my bookshelf soon.

Susan/Greenleaf (Chameleon)

Artist, Twin, Ballerina wrote 763 days ago

"It seemed like a plot worth pursuing."

Well that sums it up! This is a story worth pursuing. The opening chapter plunges us right into the meat of the story. A reader is left with so many questions unanswered, but not questions of confusion. This is merely wonderful suspense. It educates readers about another culture while relating to issues that all girls and societies face, a story for the masses.

There are a few misplaced commas and words, and some sentences could be tightened. For instance:
~ "She was still only ten years old." I believe simply, "She was ten years old," is more powerful.
~ 'The family live right here....' Should be "lives"
~ "None of this meant anything to her, apart from to bring the feeling of an earthquake in her stomach." Fix: "None of this meant anything to her except an earthquake in her stomach."
~ '...when you lying down in the bed for months?' I think it's '...when you were lying down in the bed...'

I'm backing this!

-Cassandra Porter
Love, Death, or the Gift of Happiness

Emma.L.H. wrote 768 days ago

I have to admit, your pitch made me shrink away a little at first with the subject of your book; a ten-year-old child being forced into marriage is a harrowing subject. And yet it is so carefully written and well constructed, that I was hooked from the start. You have a great way with words, especially with dialogue. The story runs smoothly and you've done some great research here. All the best with this. Well done.

ComingHome wrote 793 days ago

A subject that only a few very talented authors could begin to tackle. No one could do it better than this author.

Tari wrote 794 days ago

Now this is fascinating and will obviously raise a lot of interest. It takes the reader into the mind of a ten year old girl and a mother who has given into an ancient and powerful religion.
The prose is scuccinct and the descriptive material really holds the novel together grounding the story. The plot is fast paced starting off the an inciting incidnet and raising the tension as the chapters move on.
It has pathos, trauma and aggression that will keep the reader enthralled.

You have obviously done your research as the story is so credible.

Backed with pleasure and starred.

Mumsie 1 wrote 798 days ago

Dear Marilyn;
You have done a great job with developing your characters and setting the place for your novel.
I was intrigued from the first few sentences in and felt for the little girl being forced by her mother and traditions to grow up way too fast.
I loved how you painted a picture for the reader of time and space, nicely done. Highly stared from me and I will continue to follow Latchmin on her journey.
Elke
-Ella In Between

FRAN MACILVEY wrote 807 days ago

Dear Marilyn

Written with a wealth of detail, your story "God of the Cocoa" is an engrossing read. I have finished the first two chapters this afternoon. It is interesting to learn something of another culture, which you portray so vividly. Your clear, careful writing is a treat. Highly starred,

Fran Macilvey, "Trapped" xx

Madam XY wrote 813 days ago

Interesting. My Irish/German mother often commented she thought arranged marriages might offer advantages, mainly that parents were often wiser in selection of a mate that two teens with oversexed hormones. Shelved!

kiwigirl2011 wrote 854 days ago

Hi Marilyn,
I’ve read all six chapters, got totally caught up in the story you’ve woven. Wonderfully descriptive (but not overly so) writing. I could picture certain settings very clearly. I felt for the girls, so young and to be forced into something so adult. I could totally understand why Sumati chose to run away. But what happened to the man she ran away with? And did she end up prostituting herself? I was a little unclear on that part.
Couple of minor things I noticed:
Chapter two, when she is getting water and has just seen her husband to be – And itchy feeling took over her skin. – change to ‘An’
Did you ketch plenty of fish in the sea? - catch
With regards to the man that Sumati is to marry - Is it supposed to say it was his fault that his wife died? Otherwise I didn’t understand why Latchmin thought Sumati ran away because of it?
Is this a completed book? Are you planning on uploading more?
Six stars for sure and I will add to my list of books to shelve at some stage :-)
Tammy Robinson

Melissa Koehler wrote 918 days ago

i expected to have to force myself to read this since im not a huge fan of historical fiction but i found myself enjoying this book, even though it was about something i had absolutely no interest in. it reads easy and has a unique storyline. you have a good hook at the end of chapter one that i think would make readers want to go on. at first i thought the way you portrayed latchman was a little weak in the first couple paragraphs of her finding out about her arranged marriage, but then she seemed to come out of her shell and become a loud character and i really enjoyed reading about her. i did notice a couple misspells if i may be a bit nitpicky, but other than that, it seemed really polished. im going to try to back this, *sigh*, my backlist is so long plus i really like the books on my shelf at the moment, but hopefully ill be able to eventually. ill try to read more in the meantime though. lots of stars for this one.
melissa :)
Gut Instincts

Irene Long wrote 939 days ago

From reading chapter one, I am intrigued. I really like the fact that they are living in Trinidad because it adds another dimension to the story.

I think some of the dialogue could be edited a bit and some of the paragraghs tightened up so that they run smoothly from one to another but I am impressed by the story. I will definitely be reading chapter 2

Irene

Janet S. Colley wrote 939 days ago

Marilyn, I have had this book on either my WL or my shelf for a very long time. I've always loved stories where the setting is India. Don't know why, but maybe it all started with The Secret Garden. ;)

Don't have much to critique but, if I had to say something, it would be that I think this line: It was considered unlucky for a daughter to begin puberty while still in her parents’ house, which is why Bassandaye and her husband Sankar Bhandharjee, decided to accept the offer of marriage from Kamal Singh and Parbatee. -- and the para that follows -- would make a "killer" opening. I know when I finished the first draft of my novel, I ended up going back and rearranging "scenes" so I had a less "linear" story. (I tend to write in scenes that I name - and then I know what's happening in each - and can rearrange at will.)

Hope you find my comments helpful. I think the fact that I have had my eye on your book for so long tells you how compelling I think your story is.

Best of luck with it!

KGleeson wrote 957 days ago

I've moved on and read chapter 2 and still find this a really delightful read. There are so many elements here woven into one story that can makes it such a unique book. The setting, Trinidad, the time period, 1919 and a Hindu community. These are appealing elements and in this chapter we get a bit of a flavour of Trinidad to blend with the Hindu community. We also are learning more about Latchmin's life at school and with her friends, filled with lovely child's play that emphasizes strongly how unready she is for marriage. Then the wonderful twist at the end that she looks over her future husband only to be handed a not for her best friend is very good. That you linger over the moment when she inspects him and have great turns of phrase for her impressions is very well done.

What you might consider though is to give us a bit more again in the scenes you just describe as narrative in this chapter. Since marriage is a key theme here it would draw the reader in more to have a bit of dialogue showing how the girls feel about the arranged marriages. There you can give slightly different viewpoints and a few stories of how the marriages are arranged. This is a way to show the customs without writing it in a descriptive narrative block. It can have humour and personalization in that way too and give Latchmin a chance to voice (or think) about how she's feeling. It gives stronger context to her actions.

Another element you might consider is to show a past scene/flashback with Mr. Griffith the headmaster visiting Latchmin at home. This scene could show elements of Trinidad culture which isn't strongly present up to this point. He can tell with a sentence or two about his slave background without have to tell us in a narrative block. He can also emphasize what education can do for her in the dialogue so then we understand what she is giving up or trying to hold on to-- her option.

The final element might be to consider weaving a few points to give a more solid sense of the time period, too. I don't know much about Trinidad history but maybe slipping in something about the time period when Griffiths comes. I don't know if they were involved in WWI in anyway but that is a good marker everyone knows. These unique elements help to orient the reader but also serve as good marketing points for future agents and publishers. Kristin

KGleeson wrote 960 days ago

Marilyn

I've read the first chapter of this delightful tale fairly carefully and wanted to give you my impressions here first before moving on. This is such a different setting and time period with an immigrant community few know about I would guess. You give us some wonderful glimpses into world that had so many things influencing it. You've established a lovely voice here that works well with Latchimin's character and it carries through the narrative of the first chapter. The story is developing well and you've successfully established some great plot points that could twist the narrative in different directions.

What you might consider here is to look at the various scenes you have. Some of them are very brief followed by narrative that gives the story progression. There are some key scenes here which I think you might elablorate on to give them and the narrative more power and to enrich the sense of each character. In the beginning paragraph you mention right away that her life changed when she came home from school and learned she was to be married at the age of ten. You might consider not mentioning why her life changed because it then saps all the tension and energy out of the following scene. Build up the tension slowly-- her life is going to change, we the reader don't know how but we are anxious to find out. Have her walking home with her friend-- show childish dialogue so that we can see how young she is and what her childish concerns are. Then get in in the house and notice that that things are strange-- her mother is cooking a certain dish in the middle of the week. You have a lovely description of that dish. You could orient us to the house at that point and then show the whole dinner conversation -- bring in the brother then, maybe show us how she was ill and can't eat the same way. (Tell us from the first it was typhoid. Since it's not in first person there's no point in calling it just an illness and then later call it typhoid.) Then spring the whole discussion of the arranged marriage and show it in full. Through the dialogue we can see each of the characters best and come to know them that way. You can show us his interest in other women by having him mention them in the conversation. Show the mother's resilience and protective interest by glances and dialogue. Also we can observe the brother's relationship with the daughter and his parents by the way he interacts during this critical conversation.

After that critical scene it would be important to have a scene with the prospective in laws and hopefully the groom. If Latchmin wouldn't be able to go then have a long scene with the parents in which they relate the dialgoue with the in laws and describe the son. We need to see what she's rejecting in some way that isn't just a narrative sentence or two because that wouldn't draw in the reader.

You might also consider a scene where she is measured for her sari or some kind of wedding preparation. Again it's an opportunity to see her building resistance and to show how she is developing other strategies in her mind. Then the scene with her friend has more impact and more tension as we begin to understand that she really is going to pursue other alternatives like conversion to Catholicism.

All that said I do really, really like this story and do think it could go somewhere. I hope to read on soon and give you more feedback if you want it. Kristin

Mark Johnatty wrote 961 days ago

Marilyn
Your flow of thoughts, the vivid imagery and portrayal of life in the post indentureship era, provided exciting reading. You captured so realistically, the little details and mannerisms of expressions between Latchmin and Sumati about marriage and their typical reactrion at the thought of being with a boy alone. I am not surprised that with all Bassandaye's progressive outlook on education she eventually gave in to her husband's commitment to marry Latchmin. But I wonder if Latchmin's fate is sealed to that commitment or will she do something radical to get out if it. Good stuff and excitingly presented.
Backed with great pleasure
Mark Johnatty

MendelE wrote 961 days ago

Thank you for taking me back through time to learn about these conflicted people. Through Latchmin, I watched the timeless tragedies that emerge when tradition and the need for freedom of choice crash head-on. I am only a few generations away from a time of arranged marriages in my family. Also close to home is the diaspora of a people with no choice but to leave their homeland, their traditions and religion the only remnants to hang onto of their lives. Of course, the children who live in the moment don't have their familiy's context in which to make decisions so they go with their hearts. You have brought this age-old conflict out quietly and beautifully. Well done.

Cariad wrote 963 days ago

Very readable, I galloped along. It could do with a bit of editing to get rid of some repetition of words close together, but its a very engaging story, full of description and exotic (to me) detail. You have some likeable, believable characters and this reader is going on to read all you've put up. Some stars for now.
Cariad.

a.morrison712 wrote 964 days ago

Marilyn,

Your opening chapter is great. I can see the town in my mind perfectly based off of your descriptions. I am looking forward to following your main character. I really like Latchmin. You express her emotions well. I already feel sympathetic towards her. I am going to watch list you, and come back and read more. I'll comment from time to time. Thanks for posting this great book!

Ashley
Maddy Hatfield and the Magic Locket

a.morrison712 wrote 964 days ago

Marilyn,

Your opening chapter is great. I can see the town in my mind perfectly based off of your descriptions. I am looking forward to following your main character. I really like Latchmin. You express her emotions well. I already feel sympathetic towards her. I am going to watch list you, and come back and read more. I'll comment from time to time. Thanks for posting this great book!

Ashley
Maddy Hatfield and the Magic Locket

Laura Bailey wrote 987 days ago

I love the concept and your writing is fantastic. This is better than many published books I have read. I wish you the best of luck and have placed your book on my shelf.

Best wishes,

Laura
Beneath The Blossom Tree

Intriguing Trails wrote 987 days ago

God of the Cocoa,

This is an exceptional story, well researched, well written. I've read through Ch 3 and am very impressed with the quality! Very professional. In all honesty, I cannot think of anything to improve upon this!
Holding on my WL until a space opens on my shelf.
Raechel
Echo

jlbwye wrote 989 days ago

God of the Cocoa. A lovely cover and a romantic title. Your pitches concern a ten year-old girl, yet the genre is not children's fiction. I am intrigued.

I take notes as I read, but dont pretend to be an expert.

Ch.1. That picture of Latchmin staring at her mother's mouth, lost inside the words - captures the moment.
I dont think you need the comma after themselves. In fact, perhaps you could review all those commas and see if you can do without as many as possible. They do disturb the flow.
An immediate problem grips the bewildered girl, with the feeling of an earthquake in her stomach. I enjoy your turns of phrase.
My eyes begin to droop when the children are talking about cooking cleaning the cowshed, and Latchmin chases the cat.
And then the problem might possibly have an answer...

Ch.2. Although conversations among the children about marriage are relevant, I wonder how them skipping can be made to advance the story?
You change POVs quite frequently in this chapter.
You give an interesting account of the customs of the Indian race in Trinidad. But some of the details are repetitions, and I wonder if you could incorporate them into conversation or in the course of the action, rather than have large blocks of exposition.
I thought Fluffy was a cat...

Ch.3. You paint a compelling picture of Sankar's past through his story, and the dialogue, with the children's questions, flows naturally. Then you leave a tantalising hook.
A realistic, amusing sight of the hen having a dustbath, to distract Latchmin while Sumati writes her letter to Farouq.

This is a gentle tale of life in Trinidad for the Indian population, which doesnt yet quite flow smoothly enough to hold this reader's attention all the time. We all know about the necessity of editing, and re-editing. Perhaps interest wanes because the plot is too predictable? Or maybe you should drop more hints of puzzling problems and clues?
You have an easy style of writing, and I enjoyed reading your story.

Jane. (Breath of Africa).

Brian Bandell wrote 992 days ago

You have a great dilemma as the focus of this novel, the characters are sympathetic and the plot works nicely.

You certainly start the novel in the right place. That’s a life-changing event if there ever was one.

Good use of dialog. Even when it’s not grammatically correct, I can pick out the speech patterns.

TYPO: “The threat of dying when she was nine had left HER frightened to disobey.”

TYPO: “But any kind of normal food could puncture her intestines AND kill her, let along the sharp, spicy stuff she craved.”

Her conversation with Sumati is really good. I also like the conversation between her parents in chapter 2 over her future. The tension when she meets her future husband is great.

You've got something special here. It might be tough to craft a marketing pitch because an agent might say it doesn't have a wide audience. But I saw rubbish. A book that is well written like this should always have an audience. Backed.

Brian Bandell
Mute

Mark Johnatty wrote 993 days ago

Marilyn

This is very well written. Not only is the story flowing, but it is so true of the era you are depiecting. It was quite normal for Latchmin's parents to consider a Shopkeeper's son, a good catch, even though Rajnath had a bad reputation. Also, to marry in a high caste - a Chatree - was highly considered. Your attention to detail adds character and realism to your work, especially Latchmin's sticking out the tip of her tongue at her brother. Also, the long shadows at that time of day adds to the reality of the locality. Etwar's brotherly concern for his sister was also typical and the little detail of waving his hand in the air while he look back at her brought a touch of reality to life in the country.
Backed with pleasure

Mark Johnatty

Nicole Ellis wrote 994 days ago

Dear Marilyn,

you thoroughly grabbed me from the start. I was completely drawn into this exotic world from the start of chapter 1 unti lthe end. You obviously have a firm grasp on the culture you're describing and it shows. You're writing is accessible and neatly- crafted . Just one thing struck me....can teeth "shine knowingly?" It just doesn't seem to me like something teeth would do.

You have wonderful characters, each with their own unique personality . Bravo! I can tell this is the start to a rich and wonderful tale

silvachilla wrote 996 days ago

Gosh...what a tragic story and I've not even read it yet! Your pitch is utterly intriguing, but I wonder if you could have left a bit more intrigue in it? Whatever, I'm reading on and will comment as I go...

OK, being REALLY picky, I think you have a lot of 'her' in your first sentence. And I'm only picking up on this because the essence is a really great way to start - Latchmin's only 10 - this is something that's going to shock most people as it's just not really done like that in most parts of the world. So being really nitpicky, I'd look at tightening this line up...

I have to say just now, I really like your imagery here. The mosquito - fabulous, and I love, love, love the little way you've transported us into the mind of a 10 year old. The meeting couldn't have taken that long because...this to me is how a child would think. I don't know if that was on purpose but I like it.

Your dialogue - are you meaning it to sound accented? 'Is what I want' over 'It's what I want'...not sure if this is on purpose or not but just thought I'd ask...reading further down it seems to be on purpose. Not a bad thing necessarily, but it distracts me a bit. However, this is just my personal preference and not any reflection on your writing (which is good, by the way).

The 'You got sick...' section of dialogue - the formatting has gone a bit skewed - may just be an autho glitch but it distracted me a little.

Fluffy - is this a cat? Just to highlight you haven't mentioned her (?) as yet so I had to think, who the heck is Fluffy?

Kneed the flour - should be knead

Only time to read one chapter tonight, but I enjoyed this read so far :)

Silva

CarolinaAl wrote 997 days ago

I read your first chapter a couple of months ago. Today I read your second chapter.

General comments: An interesting chapter. A likable, sympathetic main character. Lots of local details that give a strong sense of place and culture. Good tension. Good pacing.

Specific comments on the second chapter:
1) 'You're going mad girl,' Latchmin replied. Comma after 'mad.' When you address someone in dialogue, offset their name or title with a comma.
2) ... the girls were chanting 'Salt.' Comma after 'chanting.'
3) 'This happened mainly because those at school were exposed to other influences, ... ' You used 'mainly' in the sentence preceding this and in this sentence. That's one 'mainly' too many. Consider using an alternate word for one of them.
4) ' ... were becoming more enlightening to alternate choices.' 'Enlightening' should be 'enlightened.'
5) 'The school day ended as usual at 3pm, ... ' '3pm' should be '3 p.m.' or, better yet, 'three p.m.'
6) 'The scorching sun served to increase the anxiety Latchmin felt.' Try to avoid using the word 'felt.' Just describe her anxiety so vividly the reader will experience it along with Latchmin. When you do this, the reader will be drawn deeper into your story. There are more cases where you use the word 'felt.'
7) 'Where's your friend today?' One of the young men called out. 'One' should be lowercase.
8) 'Latchmin could see, Sumati's name on the folded up piece of paper.' Remove the comma.

I hope this critique helps you polish your second chapter. These are just my opinions. Use what works for you and discard the rest.

'Savannah Fire" is presently #5. If you feel it is worthy, would you please keep it in mind when you next reshuffle your bookshelf?

Have a splendid day.

Al

mapleyther wrote 1000 days ago

Marilyn

The subject matter of early 20th century Trinidad would not normally one that I would take a second look at but the quality of your writing is compelling. As someone else has said, it is very smooth, and even after the first few paragraphs I felt empathy with the characters and curious about the Indian culture in Trinidad which I had not heard about before. I think the only word that seemed jarring was the word "dubiety" - it is certainly not used very often and I would think there was a more mainstream word that would do the job just as well?

My only other editing comment is the pitch had some incorrect punctuation. It is probably something to address as although minor it may wrongly lead readers to assume that you have not taken due care with your work - which is clealy not the case at all!

I have to assume that you have written the complete book and this is just an extract, because the extract is so polished - it does not read like a draft at all. I could see my wife being the perfect target market for this and she would buy it for sure. I am going to rate it 5 stars without a moments hesitation - I can see it breaking into the Top 20 no problem....

RAMANCHOUDHRY wrote 1000 days ago

you night wanna change the name LATCHMIN...its not a hindu name...how about lakshmi???

FarahKhan wrote 1000 days ago

This opening is so engaging. I loved the characters they are so well drawn out and the pace is fast enough that you dont get bored. The subjects being discussed are interesting and have a very honest emotional thread running through them. It is also edited to perfection, there are no errors in the whole chapters. ( i need to work on my edits - a warning)

Farah (angel of deatha memoir)

J.Kinkade wrote 1001 days ago

Hi Marilyn. Sure--it was the first section. If you break down all the dialogue about the marriage, this is what you come up with:

"But Ma?"

"The town? A husband?

"But Ma!"

The two of them had an understanding." (THIS IS GOOD. It tells us who she will be marrying)
The offer from Mr and Mrs Singh...(Ditto)

"I thought you wanted me to stay at school, Ma!"

"You said you wanted me to learn, and to read my poetry. You said you wished that you had the chance."

"So why? Why are you doing this?" (Instead of the mother explaining for us, you could have Latchma grieve inwardly about it. She knew why...they were Indians,. They were different. ...They were strangers, etc.)

"I don't believe it, Ma!" The gods not forcing you to make me get married."

"Me! You are giving me back! "

"But it is me Ma. Like I am a sacrifice."

See what I mean? When you add it up, it's just a bit much. We know she doesn't want to get married. I think if you touch on all the dreams she had about going to school--dreams that her mother had planted--about how they were disintegrating before her eyes would be nice. It would also give us a better idea of who Latchma is, if we get inside her thoughts. Does that make sense? The way it is now, I feel like she's whining. Instead, I want to feel what she's feeling. How would you feel? CRUSHED. DEVASTATED. Betrayed by her own family. Being forced to marry a boy she doesn't even know--has never even met? I want to know what she will be losing. I really want to feel her struggle with this. And the dialogue doesn't quite capture that sense of devastation. If you do keep the dialogue (God, I'm sounding so bossy now!) I would tighten it up. Make it more natural. For example:


"You wanted me to stay at school. Remember?"
"You wanted me to learn. To read poetry. To do the things you never could."
"No, Ma. The gods aren't forcing marriage on me. You are."

"But it is me. I'm a sacrifice."

Too many "Ma"s as well, in my opinion.

Oh dear. I should get my little ones to bed. I hope I helped. I'm working on my first chapter tomorrow. MonkeyFeet just told me that mine was all telling and no showing. Hmmm. And I thought I was showing! Crap! ;-) JK

J.Kinkade wrote 1001 days ago

Marilyn,

It looks like you have a lot of commentary already, and I don't want to be repetitive, so I'll just give you my first blush reaction with chapter one. You write really well and Trinidad is a great setting. I thought the drama of why Latchmin had to marry went on a bit too long and was wondering if you could do it in narrative form rather than in dialogue. Just a thought and I might be alone in the woods on this one. That's in for now. Dinner time! Jkinkade

Eileen Kay wrote 1005 days ago

Hello.

This pitch is great. It t makes me care about these characters, intrigued with the plot, and what’s also inviting is the multi-cultural setting in Trinidad. One question: when you say “it is good dharma”, I have always heard instead the phrase “it is good kharma”, in such a context. So, I wondered if that was what you meant? That threw me off a bit, so can you clarify please? Dharma usually means the teachings and the philosophy, whereas Kharma refers to a specific action which brings specific reactions and results (cosmically speaking).

Ah – later this is somewhat more clear in the text, but it was in the pitch that I was not so clear, as it went against how I have always heard these terms used.

I think your style is magic. The first paragraph gets so much done so deliciously and movingly. I did have a moment where I wanted to know right away, just one or two details about her year of illness. It could have a sort of metaphorical meaning, potentially, and felt like a missing detail that could be potent. A whole year! That’s significant. So, I wish I had that information sooner in the chapter. If the meaning is that she fought hard to regain strength, then I'd like to hear that mentioned sooner, just briefly. (but this is a small point really).

“We are strangers in this land” – that was a moving moment. It sets up a huge theme. And what poignant pain to hear about a promise that she will get her beloved education, when immediately we suspect this promise may not be kept.

I loved meeting her brother, and her friend, and I just ached for her not wanting to get married in this suspicious way, with her even wanting to convert to Catholicism for a bit more progressive thinking. Now, that is a really ironic thought when for many people, Catholicism is often known for the exact opposite!

This is really wonderful, and appeals to me personally very much, but I also think it is well written by any standards. I have only seen a handful of books on this site that I would actually buy and read right now (I am a low budget person and do not buy a fraction of the books that I’d like to buy). This is one book I would buy and read, as is. I am happy to back this book. I do hope it gets published.

Best wishes from
Eileen Kardos
The Noodle Trail

Sabastion wrote 1006 days ago

Very wonderful story!!
It was quite similar start, to news story that happened here in the states, well after you had wrote this story. Breaking family and religious traditions, is a tough topic to write about, but you do this in an exceptional manner. You do need a good edit. i saw a line break in the begining after " The pundit said".
This was very easy to read, and for someone who does not read this genre that is a high compliment.
Good luck, this should go far.
JJ Marro
Magic of the Frogs

Mr. Nom de Plume wrote 1007 days ago

The genre of literary fiction suits this work well. The balance of paragraphs in third person flows nicely into the dialogue presented in short bursts of really great writing. Well done. Backed.