Review: Ramadan Sky by Nichola Hunter

ramadan-sky“A contemporary twist on a classic story of forbidden love, set in Jakarta, capital city of Indonesia.

When Vic accepts a teaching position in Jakarta, she has already been working and travelling in Asia for many years; she thinks she knows what to expect. However, before long she becomes troubled by the casual coexistence of vast wealth and woeful poverty, and by the stark differences in freedom and power between the men and the women. It also becomes apparent that there will be no support or companionship from her fellow Westerners and colleagues.
Fajar has lived in Jakarta all his life. He gets by, loaning money from friends and family, spending his nights racing, and his days working on the roads as an ojek driver. When he impresses a customer with his understanding of English, he sees an opportunity. He dedicates himself to being the woman’s driver – taking her to and from work, running her errands. He thinks he’s won big.
Neither Fajar nor Vic expect to find friendship and solace in their strange arrangement. But, before long, they will step outside the mores of their cultures together, crossing a boundary that will shake both of their lives.” – Publisher Summary

Ramadan Sky by Nichola Hunter is a 102-page novella focusing broadly on a love triangle, but more closely on the illicit relationship between two of the three people in said triangle. This tale is set in Jakarta, where gender disparities are quite strong. Vic is a nearly-40-year-old Australian ESL teacher who is new to the area. She strikes up an acquaintance with a twenty-something motorbike taxi driver, Fajar, and hires him as her personal chauffeur while she is working in Jakarta. The two develop a close friendship that soon develops into a much more passionate affair. Unfortunately, Fajar is engaged to be married to Aryanti, who is none too happy to learn about Vic (although the affair between Vic and Fajar becomes quite advanced before Aryanti learns of it).

There is not a lot of meat to this novella – then again, it is a novella, so that is a hard thing to do. There was mostly a lot of fighting and a lot of graphic sex scenes, which are not usually my cup of tea. Vic, who appeared to be likeable in the beginning, turned out to be very manipulative and arrogant. Fajar, who appeared arrogant and naïve in the beginning, turned out to be arrogant and violent. Aryanti was just… a woman scorned, I suppose.

The sense of place, both economically and societally, was accurately depicted and the characters unfortunately seemed to be portrayed rather convincingly (I say unfortunately in that it is unfortunate that some people actually do tend to behave in these ways). This is a short and somewhat entertaining read, but one that you must discover for yourself – take a chance and check out Ramadan Sky today.

Ramadan Sky by Nichola Hunter. Buy it, read it, love it.

3 stars

Source: HarperCollins UK/Authonomy {via NetGalley}



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