“With a flare for witty dialogue and richly detailed prose, Sabrina Ramnanan has crafted an impressive debut novel, the multi-layered tale of a young couple’s tryst that scandalizes a Trinidadian village . . .Beautifully and lovingly, Ramnanan created a fictional cast of Indo-Caribbean villagers she came to know like family, a family she would visit whenever she opened her laptop. The story might have ended there, with a printable personal portfolio of clever vignettes but, as with any good yarn, there was a dramatic twist.”
–The Toronto Star (10 Torontonians to Watch in 2015)
1974. Welcome to Chance, Trinidad, home to cane farmers, scandalmongers, rum-drinkers, the deeply devout and brazen eighteen-year-old, Vimla Narine, who after passing her A-levels with extraordinary results and accepting the coveted teaching post at Saraswati Hindu school, is caught with the village pundit’s son, Krishna Govind. At night. Holding hands.
By morning even the village vagrant has heard the news and the Govinds and Narines find themselves at the heart of Chance’s most delicious disgrace since a woman chased her cheating husband from the district with a rolling pin.
Very quickly, Vimla’s teaching post is rescinded, her mother goes on strike from everything, her father seeks solace in the rum shop and Vimla is confined to her home. And while Vimla waits for Krishna to rescue her, his father exiles him to Tobago with a suitcase of Hindu scriptures. Krishna will become a man of God. It is his duty.
Vimla thinks her fate can’t get any worse when her best friend, Minty, brings word that Krishna is betrothed to the beautiful Chalisa Shankar, against their wills. Together, the young women devise a scheme to break up the engagement, unearthing truths about a host of characters that could change the village forever.
“Ramnanan’s delightful debut novel leads the reader on a gratifyingly witty and insightful romp through smalltown politics.”
“I felt like I was reading a Jane Austen novel, a comedy of manners, only set in Trinidad in the 1970s in which marriages are arranged according to class and social standing, and women are not meant to have any aspirations other than to be good wives and mothers, but where a whole underside of activities are taking place without the men’s knowledge, where the women are really the ones to make things happen. This novel will surely appeal to readers who enjoy a lighthearted love story with a twist.”
-The Waterloo Record
“Ramnanan is not the kind of writer who overburdens her text with vast history or sociology lessons…[She] keeps the plot moving quickly, adding characters, secrets and subplots at a breathtaking pace. Nothing Like Love is a beach read of a book like a cold creamy barbadine punch on a hot summer’s day.”
-Piali Roy, The Toronto Star (Books & Entertainment)
“A whole lot of memorable fun in this amusing debut novel. Ramnanan delights in describing a Trinidad that’s vivid and full of colour…But those descriptions, wonderfully evocative as they are, merely set the stage for the exuberant storyline, which Ramnanan imbues with humour and peoples with captivating characters, among the chief pleasures of the novel. . . Her writing builds on the tradition of other great Trinidadian-Canadian novelists, including Shani Mootoo, André Alexis and Rabindranath Maharaj, but she sets off down her own path with a charming comedic voice – and the promise of vastly entertaining things to come.”
– Laurie Grassi, The Globe and Mail
“Ramnanan’s masterfully written romp has it all: spicy Caribbean food, love intrigue, political corruption, Bollywood-style dance, farce, gossip, friendship, beaches, rum punch, Hindi music, and an elaborate wedding. It’s a story filled with heart, wisdom, and family . . . a rollicking and sassy miracle of a novel.”
-Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, author of All the Broken Things
Doubleday Canada, April 2015
Awards, Interviews, and Media:
Shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize
CBC 5 to Watch (see interview here)
10 Torontonians to Watch (Toronto Star)
Recommended: CBC Books Summer 2015 Reading List
The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers (at 42:40)