A Disobedient Girl

A Disobedient Girl

A Novel

  • reading group guide
SHE LOVED FINE THINGS, AND SHE HAD NO DOUBT THAT SHE DESERVED THEM. . . .

Young Latha knows that she was not meant to be a servant. She was born for finer things, like the rose-smelling soap she steals from the family she has worked for since she was five, or the glasses of fresh lime juice she helps herself to after a long day. But the hard truth is that her life is tied to Thara, the family’s spoiled daughter, and for the next thirty years they grow up bound by love, betrayal, resentment, and an impossible secret.

Then there is Biso, a devoted mother of three, who risks everything to escape from her tyrannical husband. Though her journey begins with hope, she navigates a disastrous path that ultimately binds her story to Latha and Thara’s in the most unexpected and heartbreaking way.

Set against the volatile backdrop of class and prejudice in Sri Lanka, A Disobedient Girl is a bold and deeply moving tale about the will to survive and the incredible power of the human spirit to transcend the unforgiving sweep of tragedy.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439101964 | 
  • July 2010
List Price $24.99
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Meet the Novelist Ru Freeman

The story of two women in Sri Lanka, strangers to one another, yet united by an undying love, as they travel towards an unimaginable destiny.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

In her heart of hearts, Latha knows that she was not mean to be a servant. She was born for finer things, like the rose-smelling bars of Lux soap she steals when no one is looking. But the hard truth is that Latha’s life is tied to the Vithanages, the family she has been working for since she was five years old. A Disobedient Girl follows Latha over the course of thirty years as she serves Thara Vithanage—a girl her own age who is given every luxury and opportunity Latha yearns to have for herself. As her story progresses, we are also introduced to Biso, a young mother from a respectable family in Southern Sri Lanka who has decided to leave her abusive husband. In chapters interwoven with Latha’s, we travel with Biso and her three children on their journey, the end of which brings a surprising twist of events that connects her life with Latha’s in an unexpected and heartbreaking way.

Questions for Discussion

1. One of the first English words Latha learns is “ see more

About the Author

Ru Freeman
Author Photo by Peter Hurley

Ru Freeman

Ru Freeman is a Sri Lankan writer whose political journalism and fiction has been published internationally. She lives in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

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Author Revealed

Ru Freeman
Q. how did you come to write A Disobedient Girl?

A. My teacher, Lynn Freed,had given us an in-class assignment to write a paragraph, any paragraph, without thinking about anything specific. I wrote a paragraph about a woman standing in her doorway, her children somewhere off scene, watching her drunken husband make his way home through the mangrove swamps in a coastal town in Sri Lanka. At the end of the paragraph, she thinks about what she plans to do at dawn while he is still asleep. That paragraph turned into the first chapter of the book. It remains, largely untouched, as the first chapter of Biso's story.

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