I see books to be of two kinds – ones that make you think and others that give you instant experiences to lighten your mood. There are many that do both as well. But that is beside the point. The thing is we need some books just to lighten our moods. These are what are known as comfort reads. The comfort reads are characterized by predictable uni-dimensional story lines and genre tropes. But still as the name suggests, the ones who find it comforting enjoy the change the same type of story over and over in different settings through the eyes of different characters. Some genres tend to be such comfort reads – action thrillers and romance for instance. Neither genre has somehow held much appeal for me. I have my own comfort reads – mine are children’s stories and tales of exploration in fantasy lands. But then when my forays into social media brought me in touch with a host of romance writers, I knew the day was not far before I would be initiated into this genre. And yes it did when I participated in an online contest organized by one of my friends and ended up winning her book as prize. That is how I landed the book ‘Saved in Sri Lanka’ by Devika Fernando.
Having set some context, let us get to the story. Unlike me here, Devika does not waste any chapters setting the context and jumps straight to the story. We have Sepalika, a Lankan tour guide with a group of tourists on a tour around Lanka setting her eyes upon Daniel Byrne, an Irish tourist and love igniting in her heart on first sight. The whole story is told in third person from Sepalika’s point of view and takes us on a week long journey around Sri Lanka along with Daniel and Sepalika. As we discover the wonders of Sri Lanka along with interesting nuggets on the associated history from the fountain of knowledge on two legs as Daniel describes Sepalika, we also get to know some of her back story. We learn about her family, her dreams, her studies in England and her forced engagement to a local tycoon Mahesh. As the story progresses the romance between the two builds up more and more intensely that would have probably had the romance lovers drooling. For me though all that was more a distraction from the beauties of Sri Lanka. All the rich descriptions of the monuments along with their history, the wonders of nature, the local traditions, cuisines and the flora and fauna are the strong point of the book.
The language is clear and concise and takes you through the story effortlessly. There isn’t much of plot to speak of – there is a simple straightforward conflict and an equally straightforward resolution that won’t unnecessarily tax the reader’s brains. The characterization is limited to Daniel and Sepalika and the entire focus is maintained on them. Even there characters are not unduly complex with multiple shades of grey for the readers to decipher. They are simple people with simple desires. All these make it very good comfort fiction. Most of my favorite children’s fiction enjoy these characteristics too. That is why I feel if this story had been about four children solving a mystery as they go on a tour around Sri Lanka rather than a Sri Lankan tour guide and an Irish tourist falling in love, it would have been just my kind of book.
I will definitely pick up any book this author writes in any of my comfort genres if at all she writes one. As far as my understanding of romance genre goes, this is just their kind of book with all the nice candy floss emotions and detailed descriptions of physiques, clothing and accessories. So I would recommend it as a must read for all romance lovers for whatever a recommendation from a genre noob is worth. Others can still pick it up as a travel guide to Lanka.
You can pick up the book right here on Amazon.