Ramos Talaya’s Prodigal Girl makes interesting reading. The novel contains four main plots. There is a love tangle in which Finola falls in love with Bryan. Her close friend Rose betrays her during her holiday. Bryan’s love knot is too beyond rectification. Finola enters into a phase of revenge where she entices people close to Bryan and Rose into a love tangle only to ditch them. At the extreme level, she seduces Tom, the brother of Bryan. When she ditches Tom he attempts suicide, and that takes the reader to the next plot. It is a legal tangle where Finola is arrested and has to fight her case in the court. He invisible friend of a law firm helps her wriggle herself out of the legal snares, and she becomes free. However, the vacuum in her life remains to be filled. The fourth phase of the novel is a deeper self-realization and regret for having taken a revenge path. From the realization follows a path of rectification. Many men fall for the beauty of Finola, but she finds them invariably unfit to partner with her. Finally, she lands up on the lap of her old time friend Nick. He has had a wife left him with a girl child and died. Finola is happy when Nick proposes to her, and they marry each other formally. Jessica the daughter, Finola’s parents and relative are glad that she is back with them as a married woman. She too becomes a mother of a boy though she accepted Jessica as her daughter earlier. The story ends on a happy note; Finola sets up firmly a life for herself after many struggles.
It is a straightforward story line without complications and Ramos proves herself to be an excellent storyteller.
The novel clearly shows a preoccupation with the question of virginity of a girl. For an author like me, the question of virginity when I think of a woman does not arise at all. It is an issue of biology and to attach so much of importance to virginity in a novel can put off a set of readers. The path of reconstruction of life by Finola through religion is also unconvincing as the religious line and its impact on Finola don’t seem to be a choice but an accident.
However, many events in the life of Finola are constructed on accidents. The lesson of forgiveness in the novel is very edifying. At times I am left with the impression that the storytelling is bland without many beautiful descriptions. But then, there are no prescriptions for the styles of authors. What is important is the imparting of the story line, and Ramos Talaya succeeds in this mission.
The author deserves kudos for keeping the language simple and understandable, and I give four stars for her success.