Monday, July 24, 2006

The Undomestic Goddess

After finishing the epic-like A Suitable Boy, i desperately wanted to read some really light, flippant and most importantly, short. Thats when An Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella caught my eye. The description fitted my needs perfectly and i picked it up. I wasnt dissapointed. The book was rather entertaining and i was immensely releived when i finished the book in under a day.

The book's all about a very high-strung lawyer who runs away on impulse after, what she thinks is, a rather expensive mistake. she takes a random train and gets off at some random place. knocking on a door for directions, she's mistaken for an interviewee for a housekeeping job.

what follows is a rather amusing tale of a totally "undomestic" woman (who doesnt even know to make an omlette) trying to fit in as a completely domestic housekeeper.

as expected, a little romance element is also present to add a little more flavor to the tale. Quite a refreshing break, i must say..:)

A Suitable Boy

This book has been on my bedside shelf for ages now.. and i finally got to see the end of it..(never thought that would happen so fast)..after reading An Equal Music, the beginning of A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth didnt seem too impressive.. i thought i was in for a major let down. When the voluminous novel began to resemble a major weekday afternoon bollywood soap, i was even more skeptical. Powerful families with political ties, arrogant daughter-in-law tearful mother-in-law combinations, The ideal responsible son bearing family responsibilities, a black sheep, extra marital affairs, high society pseudo lifestyle, illicit love affairs and i thought i was watching re-runs of some hindi soap i had caught glimpses of during school vacations. IT was hard to beleive that the idea for this novel was construed by the same ingenious mind that had come up with An Equal Music..was that even humanly possible?? Two novels without even the sightest trace of similarity.. two totally different settings, totally different language styles, totally different styles of narrations..and the list can just go on and on..

In spite of all these apprehensions, i continued to read A suitable Boy coz of the rave reviews.. i just had to see what made this book such a favourite. And surely, if not for the volume i guess i wouldnt have been dissapointed. The main story line revolving around lata and the hunt for a suitable boy for her is rather entertaining and eeriely close to home.. Makes you realise that arranged marriages all over tend to happen the same way.. and all girls tend to feel the same way about the whole marriage deal. The fact that a male can totally capture and explain the feelings a girl undergoes during such times is rather fascinating..

Another commendable aspect about the book, is the way seth has handled the enormous cast of characters. Each character, however minor in order of appearance in the novel, is unique and easily distinguishable.

Though i thoroughly enjoyed this line of the story, the million side stories got me rather tired of the book.. i mean, i might have completely enjoyed reading a novel about the life of maan and his friends and his wayward life style..but that coupled with lata's boy hunt and a generous serving of indian politics was quite an overdose.

Inspite of the length of the book, nothing ever happens.. really.. that was one other aspect of the novel that reminded me of a soap, miss a hundred episodes and get back to it after a couple of months and nothing much would have really happened.. well, that was the case with this one too. There are so many parts of the book that just faded into nothing-ness.. constant references to meenakshi's infidelty make you wonder how the whole issue would end and when the novel finishes you suddenly realise that nothing whatsoever has been done to that issue. and then you realise that amybe thats life.. not every thing gets resolved and ends in a rather fairy tale kinda way. The way lata finally chooses one of her 3 suitors seems rather abrupt.. seems like she could have put in a little more thought to such a life altering decision..but then again, dont we all do what she's done?

As you can see, i have mixed emotions about this book. Cant proclaim that i love it but at the same time, i cant write it off as trash.

Overall, A suitable boy - unsuitably verbose.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Sons and Lovers

We always tend to wonder what harm could come out of love.. liking someone is a positive feeling and nothing harmful could ever come out of it.. well, atleast i looked at it like that until i read Sons and Lovers by D.H.Lawrence... In desperate need of a change from contemporary literature, i sought refuge in a classic and i wasn't dissapointed.
I picked up the book not knowing anything about it.. the title and brief descriptions from here and there gave me an impression that this was a light comical kinda book.. i couldnt have been more wrong..
there is a strong undercurrent of discomfort throughout the book.. a stiff suffocating feeling.. and you soon realise that it is brought about by love.. never having really looked beyond the positive side of maternal love, this book was a total eye-opener.. the perfect description of the possessive mother's feelings towards her son and the woman he seems to be in love with brings to light the reason behind out typical "saas-bahu" fights (mother-in-law, daughter-in-law fights)..

Somehow, many parts of the novel reminded me of india.. the story could have very well been taken in a rather poor home in a village in india and the setting would have been perfect.. right from neighbourly gossips to all the relationships and under-currents..

i wouldnt call the book disturbing.. there is a negative trend throughout the novel but it doesnt really get to you.. the whole story has been narrated in such a way that feel the novel without actually feeling it.. i guess thats the most arbit explanation but i cant find better words to say it.. i never thought i'd feel soo strongly about a book if i dont totally get immersed in the story but again i guess i was wrong!

sons and lovers has been quite a novel literary experience..:) a welcome respite..:)