Friday, April 28, 2006
A simple cover attacted me to the book..a powerful story with the strongest of emotions kept me glued to the book until i completed it...and a perfect ending made me immediately come here and write about it..:) Evidence of Love - Melissa McConnell..
The cover of this book is nothing elaborate.. it is a simple picture of an empty closet with just one clthes hanger in it.. just a bare cupboard.. but just looking at the cover sends a feeling of loneliness and desolation in you.. simple and powerful.. beautiful!
the story goes likes this:
A 33 year old woman seems to be absolutely content with her life.. a boyfriend who she loves and is soon to marry, a good relationship with her mother and a job in the white house! what more could she aask for at this stage?? well, actually, everything is not perfect.. the perfect boyfriend has been a little less than perfect recently and has been a little too attached to his job as the personal advisor to the president of united states.. as she thinks up of ways to revive the flame and get the romance going again between them.. a bomb drops out of the sky in the form of a note he leaves for her one day when she gets back from work.. the note's simple.. he's going out of town on business but will not return to her at the end of it!
the near-perfect world suddenly shatters for catherine.. the book is all about her and her feelings in the weeks to follow... i guess its not a "guy" book.. its a very "girl" book and thats the kind of books i kinda like.. have you ever seen a guy write a book which has nothing in it but emotions?? it wont sell!:)
it touches you deeply when she recollects all the fun gtimes she's had with harry.. their first meeting..their walks around NY...their frequent trips to flea markets.. their devotion to each other.. and in the middle of all this, she realises that though she thought she knew harry.. she actually didnt know him at all! why would he just leave her and not even have the courage to face her and tell her about it?
the story line is kinda discontinuous and is interrupted frequently with recollection of her childhood and ofcourse, the present.. her mundane job and the likes..
the book is beautifully written and is very perceptive... now thinking about it, it does have a lot of details!! as in, it is nothing but details.. ery little story..but a lot of details.. but the details keep you glued to the book.. details of her childhood.. details of the love between her parents.. details of her life with harry... details of her job...details of everything under the sun..
the book's in first person narration and as you read it , without your knowledge you enter the character yourself.. you can actually feel the pain of separation..you can feel the anger..you can feel the confusion.. you can feel the book.. i think thats the most beautiful part of the whole book..:)
Thursday, April 27, 2006
I have never been good at writing book reviews.. even when wev had to read a book and write its review as a part of our english classes, i could never do it right.. the essence of a review is that it should cover the important aspects of the book and make it look as interesting as ever without actually letting the cat out the bag(if you know what i mean).. i learnt that when i picked up a perry mason detective novel for reviewing and landed up writing who the murderer was at the end of the review.. it was a valuable lesson..but i have never managed to really follow it..
why i talk about that now is because i have been trying to figure out what to say about this book..Never Let Me Go by Kazo Ishiguro.. it is the kind of book that gives you absolutely no indication about what its exactly about and that's the best part of the book.. what seems like a simple story seems to go on and on..and not in a continuos style.. its a very discontinuous kinda writing style when there are abrupt jumps from the past to the present and mysterious breaks.. while reading it..you know something's not right somewhere but you just cannot point a finger at it.. you break your head about what it might be.. when you put the book down and turn in for the night, you continue to think about it.. you try to prepare yourself in advance so that it wont affect you too much when you actually know whats that "wrong" factor in the book..
and when it hits you, it hits you hard.. you want to cry..your heart feels heavy and you wish it werent true.. you wish you had never started the book in the first place.. you wish you hadnt been so involved with it..but thats the beauty of the book..when you look back at it after a few days/weeks/months..all that you think is..wow! that was one hell of a book.. a deeply marking book..
i guess this is all i can say about the book without actually letting the cat out of the bag.. but i cant stop myself.. i want to go and on about the book.. i want to say things that would make you want to run to the local library and pick up a copy of this.. i want to write a beautiful review for this book..a review that would do justice to the quality of this book.. but i know i can't.
i dont assure you that you'll like the book.. i dont know if you'll even feel as strongly as i did.. i dont know if you would just fling it back into the delivery can at the library mumbling something about trashy it was.. i dont know.. but i loved it..in some deep inane way, i liked it a hope and i hope you do too..:)
I picked up Wild Swans from hillary clinton's bookshelf on the oprah website and i loved it. This made me go back to her bookshelf and pick up aother books that she had enjoyed reading.. the books that she picked had a political element to it but that was not the major factor...the politics merged with the story lines soo beautifully that you dont even notice it.. the next name that caught my attention in her bookshelf was this book ..The Poinsonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.. It is a very unique book.. esp in the style of narration.
The story is basically about an evangelist baptist who takes his wife and four girls to congo in the 1960s..This is as a part of the missionary work. They have a one year "contract" and they all move to the wild forests of congo not really knowing what they are getting into.. Living in the forests among native africans to induce a beleif in some one called Jesus Christ and make them move from their beleifs and embrace this new faith is surely not an easy job..
And to add to all this, there is the political element.. this is the time when Congo is getting its independence and there is a lot of internal conflict.. the baptist is asked to leave congo and get back to america coz the missionary cant find a replacement..but being dedicated to the cause, he decides to stay on in congo with his family( much against their wishes) and their lives change drastically..
The naivete of the family and their total lack of foreseeing of the conditions in africa is depicted nicely when the mother packs betty crocker cake mixes to bake cakes for the girls during their birthday..its a total shock when they see the shack that they had to live in.. let alone a oven, they didnt have a sotve/refrigerator..stuff that they had always taken for granted in the US..
The best of the novel, however, is not the story.. its the way the story has been narrated..
there is not one narrator..but 5! each chapter is by one of the four girls and a few chapters by the mom herself.. so we get to see the whole scenario from four different perspectives..
its a beautifuly written book...
This is easily one of the best books i have ever come across. At first sight, this seems like a rather bulky novel with a really small print . When you start reading it, the language seems very simple and at times even amateurish. Constant references to people as "my grandmother", "my mother" etc seem quite irritating in the beginning and you'd wish that the author had stuck to third person narration and made things better..
But as the novel progresses, your thinking drastically changes. The simple language makes it easier to grasp all the facts presented in the book easily. There are numerous facts presented here and the author describes the life of the chinese people in detail.. their beliefs, their customs, their habits, their way of thinking, the political scenario etc etc.. i thought india was one of the very few countries with such a rich heritage and no other country could even get close to it..but china has it too..and i learnt all about it after reading just this one book! The complication of chinese names slowly dawns on you and you are really thankful for references to "my grandmother" etc just to avoid confusion. The length of the book soon becomes a pleasure and you can feel the sadness ebbing in you when you are nearing completion of this gripping tale.
The story is set in China and covers the life of three generations of a family. The grandmother, the mother and finally the daughter who is the author of the book. They are all women with a strong will power and determination and manage to outshine in the totally male dominated china of those years. The book eradicates all the misconceptions of Mao Zedong and Communist China. To an outsider not well versed with chinese politics, Mao is the saviour of the peasants and the supporter of the needy. He is the ideal leader of the poor who beleives in communism and equality of wealth and happiness.
But the book bring out the true tyrant nature of his. At times, he even seems dictatorial.. His thirst for power made him take china away from the path of development and the chinese suffered.
The suffering and the true nature of the scenario at that time has been beautifully brought out by Jung Chang. There are photographs of the family too and we can relate to them and their sorrows.It is a heart wrenching tale and a total eye opener.
Not only does it deal with the political scenario, it also brings out various other qualities of the chinese. There is immense concentration on thier culture, their moral values, their family traditions. It is a total whirlwind tour of China and in many ways, better than touring the land yourself..:)
A must read for all those who would love to have a peep into the world of the chinese and for those who would love to know about the true nature of Mao Zedong and Chinese communism.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I got a rather special copy of this book to read.. it was from a friend i met in hyderabad.. he was a collector and so was his mom.. the copy of exodus that they had actually belonged to his mom and aunty had had it for a really long time.. he's been meaning to get a new edition of the book bu its off the press and there are no new editions! so i got to read this wonderful story from a rather old and battered book with crumply pages.. but reading from such a precious book is an experience in itself!! like Roots, the book that i have already written about, this is also a tale of struggle and agony over many years...still in a totally different environment..
In this book, we are taken to Palestine. Yes, its about the Jews. The story revolves around a Christian nurse, Kitty Fermont. She falls in love with Ari Ben Cannan, who is a very determined leader of the Jewish underground. It is set against the bachground of opression of jews in europe and the misreable plight of those forced into concentration camps. With all the injustice and cruel torture in the background, the story revolves around the lives of these two young people. He is totally dedicated to his cause..his main aim being to bring the jews out of their torture caps and take them to the promised land- palestine. In the course of the novel, kitty meets a young girl karen who is a refugee. She grows very fond of the girl and in no time karen becomes like a daughter to her. This is the time for her to realize that both the people who she loves more than anything in the world would never give her the first priority.They are completely committed to working for a country for their people inspite of any danger. She is torn between the decision to move with them or leave them both and finally decides to go with them. starting life in the "promised life" is not a bed of roses and the jews have to continuously fight against bandit groups etc etc..
the life of the jews is brought out beautifully in this book and i learnt quite a bit about how they were ill treated and tortured..the stories of the "ghettos" really tore my heart out..:( the book ended with a rather non-optimistic tone.. it didnt have the "and they lived happily ever after" kind ending and i usually hate books like that.. i felt so let down by the book for a while after seeing it end soo abruptly..but then thinking about it now.. the book has been soo true to the jews and been soo honest in its portrayal of thier picture..anything but for the truth as the ending would be a let down to them and to the cause of the book right??
I just re-read this book to see if i felt the same way about the book as I felt so many years ago.
When i first picked this book up in 11th grade, i was more interested in the name of the book than the actual contents..(my dad and mom worked for Roots Industries, Cbe).. but once i began reading it, it was just a whirlwind tour - right from the forests of native africa to the developed streets of america.. yes.. it describes a tour..not of a single person..but of 7 generations of a single family.. The book begins in the equatorial dense jungles of native africa.. the tribes, their way of life, their crude customs etc is beautifully brought out through the story of a little boy, who's birth co-incides with the beginning of the book..
when you think that you are comfortably transported to this peaceful world of the natives, people unaware of the civilised world sorrounding them, you are cruelly hit by reality.. you then realise that the book has nothing to do with the life of kunta kinte(the boy) in africa.. it deals with torture, slavery and forceful bondage.. the most disturbing part of the novel is ofcourse, the travel from africa to america by sea... the way the african slaves are tortured is heart wrenching..
And ofcourse, as expected, illtreatment and misfortunes dont end with the journey.. the book goes on to tell you about the lives of the black slaves in america.. all through the eyes of the successors of kunta kinte..family separations as members are sold to other places makes you want to cry..
but its not a dark and gloomy book.. without stopping at the bad times, the books go on to describe the freedom from slavery for the blacks and their development in america.. the book ends with the seventh generation successor of kunta kinte.. a free african-american in america - Alex Haley, the author himself!
It is a beautiful book and its quite an eye-opener too. An guess what, reading it the second time was just as interesting as reading it the first!