THREE WEDDINGS AND JANE AUSTEN
– An Indonesian Novel by PRIMA SANTIKA –
“Nothing can produce a better feeling for a mother, than to see her daughter
being married to 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.”
But of course, in my book the sentence is written in Indonesian language, not in English. Therefore, one can not merely put the original Indonesian sentence into Google Translate the same effect while reading it in English. It must be properly translated. And judging from the tagline, the readers will soon be aware that the book contains a story of mother-daughter relationship and the weddings at the end. Then, so be it!
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. My book is finally done and published in 12 January 2012 by Gramedia, one of the biggest, oldest, most respectable publishers in Indonesia.
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 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 kinds 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 three weddings can be made possible.
THE THREE DAUGHTERS
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. At the begining of the story, takes place in Jakarta, each of them meets a man. Emma, the wise and patient one, is single, meets Dian, introduced by Ibu Sri, a doctor from her husband’s hospital. With the same mature age, both of them soon finds comfort in one another. Meri, the lovable one, has a boyfriend named Bimo, and they’ve gone steady for three years now. A bit bored with the good-condition relationship, Meri meets Erik, introduced by Lisa, and both soon find sparkles in their lives from the same interest in Jazz and romance. And last but not least, Lisa, the stiff one, who doesn’t believe in marriage, who’s always single and never been kissed, accidentally meets Deni, her first love in high school who she once let go at that time, only because her best friend named Amel wanted him as well. Amel is now married to other man with kids but on her way to divorce. So Lisa who’s now falling in love again, has to keep her meeting with Deni [who’s previously moved to USA with his family, and now is back to Jakarta] secret from Amel.
The story then moves to Yogyakarta, the city of grand temples, where a relative’s wedding is held. In this distance place from Jakarta, for about half a week, the relationships grew between Meri and Erik, and for Lisa and Deni, as both men pay a visit to Yogyakarta to meet the girls. As for Emma, she is now introduced by her aunt to a widower, ten years older with two daughters, named Krisna, purely for a business purpose of trading Batik, the traditional-designed fabric of Indonesia. From that time on, Krisna periodically meets Emma, goes back and forth between Yogyakarta to Jakarta for his business, and eventually for his heart, because he then finds himself in love with her, and asking her to marry. Emma who has developed a certain feeling to Dian, refuses the marriage proposal, and accordingly it puts down the Batik business as well. But unfortunately, not long after, Dian announces that he is moving to a very far away island to pursue his career, and not inviting her along. Emma is devistated, and convinces herself that maybe marriage is never destined for her. As the story goes in Jakarta, both Meri and Lisa have also to face their broken hearts. Meri’s affair with Erik is caught up by Bimo, so now she’s single again because Bimo can’t forgive her but she doesn’t want to be with Erik. In time of severe broken heart, Ibu Sri offers her to read Persuasion, hoping she can learn a lesson of broken heart and forgiveness from Anne Eliott. Meri reads the book, understands it, and even sends a copy to Bimo in order to seek forgiveness. But it never gets replied. Meanwhile, Lisa has to let go of Deni again because Amel knows that he’s around. But fortunately there’s Geri, both Amel and Lisa’s best friend, who just came back from UK for his study. Geri then introduces Lisa on how to enjoy Pride and Prejudice, a book that Ibu Sri gives to her in order to get Deni’s attention because he once mentioned that he liked the book while studying in USA. At this horrible moment for all of them, a funeral of a relative is being held in Surabaya, another distance city from Jakarta.
In Surabaya, all the girls are sad. Meri and Lisa then decide to go to Bali, a nearby island from Surabaya, in order to refresh their heart and mind. Emma stays in Surabaya with Ibu Sri to comfort her aunt who’s just lost her husband. Krisna who is a close friend of her aunt, also comes to Surabaya to pay his condolences. Ibu Sri, knowing that Emma is now single again, tries to match-making Emma with Krisna. Emma refuses to do so, produces a big conflict with her mother. Although the conflict can easily be overcome, the fact that Emma is now without a man in her life takes a serious concern from Ibu Sri. She then offers Emma to read Sense and Sensibility, just because she sees a resemblance of Emma with Elinor Dashwood. Emma has nothing else to do in Surabaya anyway, so she agrees to the offer. Little does she expect, that reading the book can actually ease her mind from her conflict with Ibu Sri, and open her heart again for any possibility of love and marriage, let it be so little a chance to happen at her age. Knowing that, Ibu Sri is now happy with a high hopes for Emma.
Meanwhile in Bali, in the peaceful state of mind and place, Meri contemplates a lot and determines herself to get married soon, although she doesn’t know with who. She then tries to find new love in Bali by hanging out in Hard Rock Cafe. But instead of meeting new man, she finds herself a marriage proposal from a man she knows best. As for Lisa, while in Bali, Lisa accidentally knows about Deni going out with Amel from Geri over the phone although he 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. She’s then no longer hating marriage.
But 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 USA 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.
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 of 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.
The story takes place in several locations in Indonesia, and a bit in London. I deliberately take the whole family going places because that’s what families do in Indonesia, especially when an important event occurs. From Jakarta where they live, the capital city of Indonesia, to Yogyakarta and Surabaya, two of the big cities with their richness in Javanesse culture, historical places, as well as food and scenery. And last but certainly not the least, the romantic island of Bali. In Indonesia we call it “The Island of Gods” for its beauty that’s certainly second to none. In Julia Robert’s movie “Eat Pray Love”, whether you like the movie or not, you will not forget the beautiful beaches and rice fields of Bali exposed along the movie. Accompanied with the book Pride and Prejudice to empower the maturity process of a character, it would be a dreamy story to tell.
Hi, everyone! I’m Prima Santika from Indonesia. I live in Jakarta, the capital – as well as the biggest cosmopolitan – city in Indonesia. I studied Economics, and I’m currently working in a telco company. I was born in 1974, a husband to a beautiful wife, and a father of a handsome 4 years old son. I have just published my first book, entitled THREE WEDDINGS AND JANE AUSTEN. It’s a novel in Indonesian language,
I hope this writing of mine can give you a glimps of what I have done to introduce Jane Austen to Indonesian audience. And for this opportunity, I should thank Maria Grazia, the owner of this blog, who appreciates my book although she haven’t read it. I believe she only reads my guest post in the blog of MVBClub. And unlike other authors presented in this blog, if only this book were translated in English, I would be more than happy to provide giveaway books for this blog’s readers.
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/threeweddingsandjaneausten
My Self-Review [written in English] of the book in Goodreads Blog: http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/1994807-a-self-review-of-my-book-in-english