THREE WEDDINGS AND JANE AUSTEN:
An Indonesian Novel
– A Self Review by Prima Santika –
“Nothing can produce a better feeling for a mother, than to see her daughter
being married with a good man she loves.”
This is the tagline of my book. It is written as the very first sentence in my book. And if you’re a real Jane Austen fan, you should know that I’m trying to have the same legendary, most memorable tagline of all Jane Austen’s work. The very first sentence in Pride and Prejudice says it all.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession
of a good fortune, must be in want of a Wife.”
Of course in my book, the sentence is written in Indonesian language, not in English. And therefore, one can not merely put the original Indonesian sentence into Google Translate and hoping to have the same effect while reading it in English. It must be properly translated. And maybe, just maybe, it is the reason why Jane Austen books have never been translated into Indonesian in a complete version. There is one book though – just produced few years ago – that translates the full version of Pride and Prejudice into Indonesian language. I admit I haven’t read it. I knew about it only after I released my book. I just hope it has a good translation to the original version, so that it could be marked as the pioneer in introducing Jane Austen’s books to Indonesian people.
With the same spirit of introducing Jane Austen in Indonesia, I then wrote this book. Of course I’m a big fan of Jane Austen. I’ve read all her six major novels, and seen [almost] all the movies/miniseries about the adaptations of her works, or the stories of her life. This novel I wrote, called THREE WEDDINGS AND JANE AUSTEN, is my first mass-produced novel, published by Gramedia, one of the biggest, oldest, most respectable publishers in Indonesia.
The other reason to write this book for me, is to urge single people into marriage. Now, when I say people here, I do mean it for men and women. But I also realize that 90% of my book is talking about women’s feelings and thoughts, so I guess this book is mostly for women. However, if men would read this book all the way through, I do hope that they could take advantage of knowing what women want, and then lead them on into marriage. Shortly, I want this book to be useful for everybody.
When I started to write this book in early 2008, in order to relate the most of Jane Austen’s point of view with Indonesian way of life, I had no other option but to put it into a good-family perspective. I could see a close relation in terms of manners and how to regard love and marriage in an ordinary, modern, well-managed, good-moral Indonesian family, with the ones in Jane Austen time. Combining both similar values in one storyline seemed to be a wonderful idea for me to explore at that time. And now, voila! My book is finally done and published in 12 January 2012, with a genuine hope from me – the author – that this book can reflect the perfect combination of the two. And the other hope, is to be a best seller book, of course.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The book is in 464 pages, with the dimension of 13.5×20 cm. It contains one Prolog, two Parts, nine Chapters, and one Epilog. Some of the Chapters contain 2 to 4 Sub-Chapters. The story is told always by first person. There are four main characters: the mother called Ibu Sri [Ibu=Mrs.], and her three daughters named Emma, Meri and Lisa. Each character gets her own Chapter or Sub-Chapter in telling her own stories. In helping the readers to memorize in which character they are currently reading, the book provides header in every page informing the Chapter’s title and the character’s name.
Telling a story in first person while some characters sometimes fall into one same scene, produces some retelling here and there. However, not all scenes need to be retold, it’s only for the important ones where the particular scene takes different impacts on each character. By doing this, we can explore into deeper feelings and thoughts by the characters in every meaningful scene. For me personally, as a starting writer, I find this situation very interesting and challenging at the same time. And the fact that the big publisher got it and then put it into a mass production, gave me an utmost relief and a wishful thinking, that people might enjoy this idea as well.
Ibu Sri has three daughters, Emma is 35 years old, Meri is 30, and Lisa is 29. They live in Jakarta, the metropolitan capital city of Indonesia. The three daughters are all not yet to be married anytime soon, and that makes Ibu Sri a little bit worry.
# IBU SRI
Ibu Sri is a real fan of Jane Austen! She has all the six novels and read it over and over again since high school. Her high school period was in London, and before it’s over she has to move back to Jakarta where she lives ever since. Her husband is a doctor in a particular hospital. This father character doesn’t appear at all in this novel. He still lives with Ibu Sri and their three daughters, but his presence is never told. Both the Prolog and Epilog contains a letter written by Ibu Sri to her husband when she – at last – has a chance of visiting London again with their daughters after they’re all married. In those letters she tells him how much she loves and misses him.
The Prolog tells a brief summary about Jane Austen and her books. In her letter to her husband, she’s reminiscing about how important those books are. She even names her daughters after the characters in Jane Austen books. Emma from Emma Woodhouse in Emma, Meri from Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, and Lisa from Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Although they’re named after certain characters, their stories are not necessarily similar to the related characters.
Ibu Sri uses Jane Austen books to give advises to her daughters on how to deal with love, since their high school time until present days. It’s like a holy book of romance for her, and she makes sure that her daughters will inherit all the wisdoms Jane Austen ever told in her books.
“My dear Husband, I don’t know whether you felt it or not, but the periods of searching for love and finding a husband were a very fragile phase for our daughters. And I had promised myself never to miss those moments. At that point, I felt like being obligated to understand and to give guidance to our daughters as they’re growing up. Turned out I needed guidance myself. Something to look up to, something modern. Religion was the most important value, and it’s mandatory for us to put it into their education. Tradition, norm and moral in living within the family and as part of society in Indonesia were also implemented in our daily lives. But I needed something more. There were some values – applicable in nature and related to romance – in a girl’s life as she’s becoming a grown up, that needed a comprehensive guidance to conduct. Fortunately, I found it not very far from my own all-time amusement. The Jane Austen novels.”
And since the Prolog has revealed the ending of the story, that all the daughters are finally married, the heartbeat of this novel depends mainly in the journeys. And the journeys in this novel are defined as wrong turns, regrets, lessons learned, and letting go. As the writer I just hope that these kind of journeys will keep the readers turning pages until the very end of the book. And in the last chapter –told by Ibu Sri – there’s a soft surprise on how the ending can be made possible.
Emma is the first daughter, she’s 35 years old with a boutique business she owns. She’s the wisest of the three. Patient, controlled, never to enter any conflict, and always put on a happy face. Inside, she’s just another girl with opinions, criticisms, and heartbreaks. In the age 25 she’s nearly married with a boy named Adit, who’s just as simple as she was in regarding love. The wedding was off due to Adit’s obligation to his family’s economic problem. He was to marry his far cousin to help his parents taking care of his little brothers and sisters. As brokenhearted as she was, Emma had no problem with letting go. Her enormous patience let her think that Adit has done the right thing, and she sincerely wished him and his wife a good marriage. However, Emma has never had a serious boyfriend ever since. She has no problem in starting a new relationship with boys, but unfortunately boys never took a second date with her. Emma never complained about love or marriage, and enjoyed herself being alone. But Ibu Sri was – of course – concerned, and doing anything she could to match her with any doctor in her husband’s hospital.
Now Ibu Sri has another doctor for Emma, named Doctor Dian. He’s a good man with a warm sense of humor, only a year older than Emma. They attracted right away to each other and go on weekly regular meetings. Not dates. Emma is an Indonesian girl who’s not allowed to speak her attraction to a man out loud. She can only follow Doctor Dian’s endless meetings without any assurance in getting any progressive affection from him. Emma guards her heart for not falling deeper into this attraction, just in case he’d leave her without a cause.
During the period, there’s one occasion where the whole family of Ibu Sri’s made a one week trip to Yogyakarta – an artistic city in the middle of Java island of Indonesia – attending a family wedding. Here Emma was introduced to Krisna – a widower ten years older than Emma with two little kids – on a business purpose of Batik trading. Batik is a fabric with Javanese motif. Krisna is attracted to Emma for her beauty and her kindness to his little daughters. As the business continues from Jakarta to Yogyakarta back and forth, his feelings for her has developed without Emma ever knowing. And to Emma’s surprise, he suddenly asks her to marry him.
Emma of course rejects the proposal by writing a letter to soften the news. Not because Krisna being a bad character – instead she highly respects him for being a good business partner – but because she recently finds a progress in Doctor Dian’s feeling towards her. Unfortunately, not too long after, Doctor Dian makes a clear statement to end their friendship. He’s moving to a very far city and planning to live there for good without asking Emma to follow him as in a marriage. Emma is of course devastated.
The story then moves to another city called Surabaya, when the whole family once again takes a trip attending a funeral of a close relative. Ibu Sri spots the gloomy air in Emma, and then suggesting her to read Jane Austen novel called Sense and Sensibility. Ibu Sri believes that this novel is contemplative in terms of letting go and acceptance, and that Emma can relate herself to one of the character in this novel named Elinor Dashwood. Emma then reads the novel, finds peace in her heart, and ready to open herself again into any relationship offered to her.
Meri is the lovable one. She’s now 30 years old, works at a bank, and has a boyfriend named Bimo for the last 3 years. She’s always been popular since high school and boys wanted to be her boyfriend. But the only serious relationship was with a boy named Edo in collage. They’re going steady until after collage and serious about getting married soon. But Edo spoiled everything by getting another girl pregnant. Meri could never forgive him, closed her heart to any man, and never enter any match-making anyone exposed to her. Letting go was not her cup of tea, until one day after a long while she met the warm-hearted, patient and friendly boy named Bimo. They then – unpredictably by Meri – became lovers.
On the third year of going steady, Meri now starts to feel bored. They don’t have any problem with each other, their families are fine, their jobs go very well, but lately they don’t see each other with intensity. Their similar passion in Jazz can’t amuse Meri anymore, and then she meets another Jazz lover named Erik. He can wonderfully put Jazz on the plate together with romance, sincerity, and love. Meri can’t resist the menu and consume the dish without Bimo knowing. They meet in Jakarta and Yogyakarta behind him. But Erik is Lisa’s friend at work, and she firmly suggests Meri to get out from the affair. There’s a conflict here between the two sisters, but it ends up with Meri’s decision to leave Erik. But just when they meet to say goodbye in a concert where Erik is the organizer and Bimo is the photographer, Bimo catches them hugging. And although it’s a simple misunderstanding, Bimo can not accept Meri’s apology. They split up, leaving Meri with enormous regret.
Meri’s sadness was seen very clearly by Ibu Sri. And although she can’t relate to any Jane Austen’s character – since none of them ever conduct an afair – she offers Meri a Jane Austen book called Persuasion. This book is suitable for Meri because of forgiveness and moving-on content within. Meri feels much at ease after reading the book, and then dare herself to write a letter to Bimo: asking for forgiveness, telling him she loves him, and sending him the Persuasion book. Unfortunately Bimo never replies.
On the family trip to Surabaya, Meri feels the need to move on and looking for a new love life. The island of Bali is not very far from Surabaya, so she takes Lisa along to go there on a weekend getaway. In the peaceful state of mind and place, Meri then determines herself to get married soon. Although, she doesn’t know with who.
Lisa is the youngest, but not too far apart from Meri. She’s 29 years old. As a free spirited young girl who’s committed to her job as a journalist, Lisa is surprisingly never been kissed. She always rejects any boy who comes along just because they’re not up to her standards. She always protects herself from being hurt by love, and she even doesn’t believe in the happiness of marriage. However, there was once in her life that she ever felt the sparkling feeling of being in love. It was in high school with a boy named Deni, a handsome rich boy who’s also the head of the student organization. Unfortunately, she’s not very popular in school, but her best friend named Amel was. Knowing her best friend was after the same boy, she then backed up from the game and let Amel win. Deni once asked Lisa on a date, but she refused to go. But to Lisa’s big relieve, Deni had to move to America not long after Amel and him got together. Although he’s not around anymore, she has unconsciously set him as her standard in appraising men ever since.
And now, in one fine day, Lisa meets Deni again in Jakarta. And the same in-love feeling is coming back. Although she refuses to call herself being in love, Ibu Sri knows that it indeed is. In Yogyakarta, Deni shows up and takes Lisa on his business trip around the city. Lisa finds comfort of being with him the whole day long, but can’t do more then just waiting for his call in the days after. She hates to wait and do nothing, but she can’t do otherwise, until Ibu Sri has a great idea on how to get them to meet again smoothly. Lisa finally meets Deni, along with her sisters and Ibu Sri who at the time takes along her Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice. The conversation then leads to the fact that Deni has read the book as his home assignment in highschool, and the pretending caused by Ibu Sri that Lisa also has read the book so that they both have something in common. After the meeting ends, Lisa has no other choice than really read the book herself.
On the other hand, Amel is currently processing a divorce. She has two baby children, but her husband’s been caught cheating. To Lisa’s surprise, Amel calls her that Deni just called asking her to meet. Amel never knew about Lisa’s historical feeling to Deni, so she’s asking Lisa for her opinion. And despite Lisa’s advice not to meet Deni, Amel really wants to go and hopes that the meeting leads to a new relationship between them. Lisa was left alone, jealous and unhappy. She can’t confirm about what happens next to both of them without causing herself a heart break. And there’s no more news anyway from both since Amel’s last call. Brokenhearted as Lisa must be, she then decided to still read the book Pride and Prejudice, hoping the reading will distract her sadness.
Lisa and Amel have another best friend, a boy named Geri. He’s been the clever one since high school, and currently just got back from London after finishing his scholarship. He’s single, available, and wanting to be married anytime soon with whoever available. Lisa is happy to find her best friend is in town, and even happier to know that Geri has also read Pride and Prejudice while in London, being one of the most famous classic books ever in England. Lisa finally enjoys the book.
When Lisa is in Bali with Meri, in Jakarta Geri goes out clubbing with Amel and Deni. Lisa accidentally knows about it over the phone although Geri tries to hide it, since Lisa has told him about her feelings to Deni. Lisa is upset thinking that Amel and Deni must be officially going steady. She then puts the phone off the next day, hoping she can find peace in her heart and mind while surrounded by the magnificently beautiful scenery of Bali. Accompanied by the book Pride and Prejudice, she finds herself calming down and realizes that love should be acknowledged and happiness in a marriage is only a matter of chance.
And just when she’s able to appreciate love, Deni comes to Bali to meet her especially. He wants to say goodbye, for he’s leaving the country and will live in America again, for good this time. And then he adds one thing that he’s kept secret all along since high school and always wanted to be free of. That he’s in love with her, and he needs to know that his feeling is mutual. With a little bit of conflict between them related to Amel, Lisa finally reveals her true feelings. She realizes that she needs this closure just as much as he does in order to live her future life without ever questioning what if. It’s indeed a bitter sweet of love for Lisa. And she’s now officially been kissed.
THE ENDING. THE THREE WEDDINGS.
In the last chapter before Epilog, the wedding is described by Ibu Sri. Having all her three daughters being married in the same time and place, produces an utmost happiness into her feelings. Set in the majestic view in Prambanan temple in Yogyakarta, the wedding needs to be appropriately explained. While the name of the grooms can easily be predicted as the story goes, the reason behind it will reveal a soft yet meaningful surprise. It completes all the learning process in every character in this story.