Monday, May 31, 2010

                      The much acclaimed book - 'The God of Small Things' won the booker prize in 1997 and ever since Indian women authors have shared a special respect in the literary circles. I wonder why I had postponed this book so long since books by Indian women  always captivate me - be it Chitra Banerji or Jhumpa Lahiri or the most recent Indu Sundaresan .
                        The story is based around the life of dizygotic twins Estha and Rahel and the town of Ayemenen in Kerala forms the backdrop for the tale. The book entirely has a Kerala touch to it right from the pleasantaries used to the communist activists rampant there to the way grandparents are addressed as Mamachi and Pappachi. The story is told from the view point of the 7 year old twins and what is gripping is that it is filld with flash backs and forwards that sometimes you will have to context switch your mind to tune it from past to present to future.
                         The book left me with mixed feelings. Arundhati's writing style is indeed mind blowing . Her knack of drawing humour even in the saddest of situations makes it a good read. However the book was a tad too sad for me. It kind of left me thinking that there are people whose life is filled with hopelessness . There is no situation in the book where the family (the twins and their mom) see any form of happiness. Abandoned by a drunk dad ,admonished by their aunt (Baby Kochamma),being blamed for the death of their cousin ,Sophie all left me thinking that there is no light at the end of the tunnel for these characters.
                     A good read as it gives you a lot of insights into the Kerala culture . Also worth reading for the innocence dripping in the book since the  incidents are narrated from a 7 year old's perspective. Overall a mixed bag of emotions with sadness ruling it .

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

                The book begins with one of literature's most popular opening lines 'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again' and this immediately transports us to the microcosm that Manderley turns out to be.
                 Rebecca is one of the most reknowned  British novels and a BBC poll even awarded it the 'Britain's Best Read' title. This novel is a tale of love , murder suspense interwoven with a fairy tale-ish touch and the captivating Manderley estate serving as a background as the story unfurls.
               The nameless narrator is faced with an impromptu proposal from Maxim de Winter who is the master of Manderley. Being young and literally homeless the young , naive girl agrees to be his bride. Little does she realise what she has in store when she reaches Manderley. Rebecca , Max's ex wife died in a sailing accident about a year back. Soon the narrator realises that the entire household is haunted by the late Rebecca 's memory.  She finds it impossible to put herself in rebecca's shoes and take charge of the household. The rest of the story is about how  a mystery unfurls regarding Rebecca's death and how to de Winters tackle it.
                An important character in the novel is Mrs Danvers, the efficient house keeper. She was Rebecca's maid from her child hood and she loathed the new bride as she could not imagine anyone taking her beloved Rebecca's place. She is cold to the new bride and even urges her to commit suicide saying she is out of Max's league.
               Overall the book turned out to be an entertaining read. Gripping at some points and very vividly descriptive at other instances.The book has also been made into an Alfred Hitchcock movie which won two academy awards. This book will be my entry for OT 2010 (country - England since Daphne was an English born writer)

Monday, May 10, 2010

                      I was looking to read something different from my usual monotonous reading routine and what could be more interesting than a Sherlock Holmes novel!!! So I picked up 'A Study in Scarlet' which surprisingly is the first book written featuring Sherlock Holmes.
                      The book gives a background about Dr Watson's life and how he got acquainted with the famous Holmes. They move in together to the unforgettable 221B Baker Street (which now of course has become a house hold name) and Holmes never ceases to ammuse Watson with his observation skills.
                     The plot of the book then moves on to a murder mystery where the murderer does not kill for money but for revenge. Holmes deduces the traits of the suspect by sheer observation and analytical ability much to the surprise of Watson (the famous 'Elementary my dear Watson' dialogue however is missing in this book :)) . Holmes earns Watson's adulation in the very beginning and soon even Watson begins to involve himself in the sleuthing bit.
                       Any other details about the story would be a give away as it is a typical Sherlock book. A refreshing read and it brought back a lot of memories of school days where summer vacations were spent reading Sherlock Holmes' adventures.
P.S. This is also my entry for the OT 2010 ( Sir Arthur is Scottish hence I will post this under Scotland reviews)


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