When I read the words ‘China’ and ‘travelogue’ together, I instantly gravitate towards it. And the events in this book take place in 1986 when China w...moreWhen I read the words ‘China’ and ‘travelogue’ together, I instantly gravitate towards it. And the events in this book take place in 1986 when China was only recently open for travel to foreigners. I went to Shanghai and Beijing about a year back and even now, it’s very difficult to communicate because other than the hotel staff no one spoke English. We faced a bit of difficulty traveling as we had to write down the name of places in Chinese and also take the map along with us. Going anywhere impromptu was out of the question.
So when Susan and Claire decide to go travel the world for a year and choose China as their destination, I was equally fascinated and weary considering the state of the country back then.This travelogue is funny and raw and honest. Susan accepts that they both didn’t know what they were doing. They were in a land about which they knew nothing. They were afraid and lonely. I expected a typical self-absorbed backpacker travelogue where they hook up with other backpackers, have drunken nights, break the rules and finally get enlightened by the meaning of life and happiness.
We had assumed, of course, that traveling would elevate us to a higher level of consciousness, that by backpacking through china, we’d absorb great wisdom the way a chunk of bread might soak up a plate full of sauce-that our minds would dilate with insight-and wherever we went, we’d sprout razor-sharp cultural observations worthy of great philosophers. Instead, as we trudged around Shanghai the next few days, our thoughts became nearly per-verbal: can I eat that? This is itchy. I need to pee.
I was so wrong.
First off, traveling with a non-compatible traveler, that too around the world, can be taxing. And if you are naive, fresh out of college and not broad-minded enough, it can be a nightmare. When Susan and Claire reach Hong Kong, they are tired and frustrated by the lack of descent food, descent place to stay and lack of western amenities. Soon they venture into China and they start getting homesick and frustrated not only with China but also with each other. The book, in the beginning is funny and light and a pleasure to read. But as their whining and their frustration increases, I became increasingly irritated by the fact that they didn’t seem to realize what a great opportunity they had to set foot in a place where very few people had before. They look down upon everyone and everything and behave like spoiled princesses.
The story builds up slowly but steadily until the very end where it becomes supremely difficult to put the book down until you know what happened next. Both the girls fall into a spiral of confusion and frustration until a series of terrifying events force Susan to take action. Susan is from a poor family in New York and says she’s lived in difficult and dangerous situations back home, but to me she doesn’t seem prepared one bit. I could chalk it down to her not being able to understand the language and the people but she is plain and simply selfish. I felt like whacking her several times.
But one thing you cannot fault in Susan is her honesty. She could have easily turned this into a story of adventure where they came out unscathed to tell the story to the world. But at that point she had just given up. In hindsight, she realizes what she has seen and experienced was no less unique and a privilege. And the fact that they both came out of a terrifying situation which could have turned into a nightmare was no less than a miracle.
The authors writing is fluid and she brings to life the streets and people of China in 1986. Her observations are astute although influenced by the girl she was back then. Her hindsight 20 years later helps give more perspective and details than it might if she had written the book immediately after returning to America.
Despite all my frustrations with the book, or maybe because of it and how involved I became in their lives for that short time, ‘Undress me in the temple of heaven‘ will be one of my favorite travel memoirs ever.(less)
When I first browsed through the book, all I saw was too much information. Just from the index I could tell that there were too many countries and too...moreWhen I first browsed through the book, all I saw was too much information. Just from the index I could tell that there were too many countries and too many reformers from each country. I thought it would be an overload and I would finish the book without knowledge about anything in particular.
But how wrong I was. After reading the book I can still say it has lot of information but everything is so nicely structured that I could go read it in sections without getting overwhelmed. It was definitely not an overload and I could tell how important it was to include as many reformers as possible. I would feel bad if even a single among them was excluded and I feel there was still room for more.
Every countries section begins with a brief but concise history of the reformation with how the countries past and present has affected the position of the women for better or for worse. Under each country we have the information on different women reformers and the work they have done and are still doing for the betterment of women. It also lists the awards won and books written if any and the various organizations that are working towards a single goal-the betterment of women.
I found Muslim Women Reformers an awesome resource on the work done by women from different Muslim countries. Although every country has it’s own laws, one thing remains common-the exploitation of Muslim women in the name of Islam. The problem is combining religion and politics and hence the misinterpretation of religion to achieve the political goals. Since most of these politicians are men, they use Islam as a way to keep women out from what they consider their territory. But women are learning to interpret Islam the correct way which is helping in fighting with these fundamentalists.
These are the women who are fighting for basic rights, both political and personal, and suffer tremendously for it. I am amazed by their courage and determination at the cost of their personal lives. The saddest part probably is that these women have to fight even for basic things like custody of their children, honour killings, right to decide if they want to wear a veil and right to express their opinion; and although it is a slow process, there is definitely progress in many parts of the Muslim world.
I am in no situation to say how accurate or inaccurate this information in this books is but I have faith that the author has done enough research before writing the book. I also understand that there are exceptions everywhere. For me, this books definitely deserves a place on my shelf. I highly recommend it.(less)
As a review for a book, this might contain spoilers but since Rani Lakshmibai is a historic figure, the time line and major events in her life are wel...moreAs a review for a book, this might contain spoilers but since Rani Lakshmibai is a historic figure, the time line and major events in her life are well known.
As an Indian I know that Rani Lakshmibai is known as one of the greatest warriors in India and the fact that she was a woman gives her an entirely different status altogether. It is sad to know that not many people outside India know who she was.
Rani Lakshmibai was born in 1828 with the name Manikarnika and grew up under her fathers love and care. He taught her different languages and horsemanship and everything that was accessible only to a man in those days. She married at the tender age of 14 to the Raja Gangadhar Rao Nevalkar of Jhansi who was almost her fathers age. Manikarna became the Rani of Jhansi and her name was changed to Lakshmibai.
She gave birth to a son 8 years into the marriage but unfortunately he died when he was 4 months old. Her husband died soon after because of poor health. Barely in her 20′s, Rani Lakshmibai had to take over the reign’s of Jhansi. She adopted a boy whom she named Damodar as she had no son of her own. But the British, who had taken control over many provinces in India in the same pretext, refused to acknowledge Damodar as an heir.
As Rani Lakshmibai was trying to find a way out of her predicament, discontent was brewing among the natives in the British army. The discontent reached its peak when British wanted the sepoys to open the new Enfield rifles that were coated with beef and pork fat by biting them. As cows are sacred to the Hindu’s and pork not eaten by Muslims, it was the last straw along with the other problems the native army was facing. This led to the famous mutiny also known as India’s first war of Independence which started in May 1857 in Meerut after which it spread to various parts of India. Many English men and their families were slaughtered and a few of the territories taken back from the British.
Rani Lakshmibai was one of the leaders of the revolt and marched along with an army with her childhood friends Nanasahib and Tantia Tope to Gwalior. Rani Lakshmibai died in battle on June 17th 1958.
The author Jaishree Misra has not only managed to capture the warrior spirit that the Rani was reknown for but has also effectively managed to capture the woman in her. Ms. Misra shows us the child that Manikarnika would have been, the apprehension of a young girl that was married and made a Queen and the fear and helplessness that the woman and ruler of Jhansi felt. Along with this she also captured the loneliness caused by her husband’s and son’s early death and the kind of mother she would have been to her adopted son Damodar.
Rani is not just about Rani Lakshmibai’s life and rule as a Queen. It is, as every good historical novel should be, a story that is intermingled with the circumstances of that time-the British occupation of India and neighboring countries and the 1857 uprising. So the reader does get to know a lot about that time period. I was enraged by the British who conveniently changed policies to suit themselves. Although we were taught all this in school, the details in the book made me feel like I was learning everything all over again.
The only thing I didn’t like about the book is that Rani Lakshmi and Robert Ellis (the British political agent of Jhansi) were shown to have romantic inclinations towards each other, which not only seems absurd but could also hurt the sentiments of a few people (considering Ellis was British and hence enemy). I get what the author was trying to project but she should have taken into account how sensitive some Indians can be about their heroes. But I really do wish that the real Rani found some love with Robert Ellis in reality too. Other than that this book could be a little tedious for someone not interested in the Indian Freedom struggle or someone who is not aware of India and it’s freedom struggle at all.
This book deserves to be read just because it is one of the very few novels on Rani Lakshmibai. The fact that it is beautifully and sensitively written is a major plus point. Highly Recommended.(less)
Cleopatra’s Daughter is the story of Selene, who after the death of her parents, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, had to travel to Rome from Al...more4.5 out of 5
Cleopatra’s Daughter is the story of Selene, who after the death of her parents, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, had to travel to Rome from Alexandra as War Prisoner along with her 2 brothers Alexander and Ptolemy. Ptolemy died in the ship on the way to Rome. When they reached Rome, Octavian paraded them in chains as his conquests. Later he appointed Octavia as their caretaker. Octavia was his sister and Mark Antony’s ex-wife. But Augusta was a kind woman and never held anything against Selene or Alexander in spite of the fact that Mark Antony had abandoned her and her children to marry their mother. Cleopatra’s Daughter is the story of Selene seemingly interspersed with the political background of Rome.
Selene is such a strong character and Ms. Moran brings forth her trepidation, anxiousness, fear, determination and strength of character very well. And then there are other characters too who are equally if not more enchanting. There is Octavian who would do anything to have power over Rome, Octavia who took care of the children as if they were her own, Marcellus, Alexander, Julia and of course Juba. He was someone I paid the most attention to right from the beginning although I didn’t know anything about Selene’s history. I have to admit that these very characters confused me in the beginning for the only reason of having to remember their names and these eventually were the same people I came to love and understand.
And then above all this is the way Michelle Moran brings ancient Rome to life. She does it with the same skill that was evident in Nefertiti and The Heretics Daughter. It made me want to visit Rome just to see the places these people lived in once upon a time.
What more can I say about Michelle Moran that hasn’t already been said before? When I went to a bookstore back in India once, the sales person told me that Michelle Moran books sell like hotcakes. That’s because Michelle Moran writes historical fiction in a way that makes you want to flip the pages like you would do for a thriller. She knows how to make history accessible to all kinds of readers. There is something for everyone in this book. Highly Recommended.(less)
I honestly did not expect much from this book. It was just something I found in a sale at dirt cheap price. But I was pleasantly surprised. The Black...moreI honestly did not expect much from this book. It was just something I found in a sale at dirt cheap price. But I was pleasantly surprised. The Black Book of Secrets is a very unusual book. Ludlow Fitch, a 16-year-old boy, runs away from his cruel parents and by chance reaches a village called Pagus Parvus in the dead of the night. There he meets a man called Joe Zabbidou who has come out of nowhere to live in the village and has a secret. He is a pawnbroker by day and a trader of secrets by night. Ludlow becomes his assistant.
The bad guy in the village is Jeremiah Ratchet who has half the village under his debt and is a very cruel man. The villagers start to trust Joe and come to trade their secrets with him in the night. Most of them have to do with Jeremiah’s cruelty. Joe is unable to do anything in spite of knowing how cruel Jeremiah is.
I don’t want to reveal much so I wont tell you what happens. But I loved the end as much as I loved the book. I loved reading all the secrets and wondering how everything tied together. The Black Book of Secrets is supposed to be a children’s book but I think it’s very dark to be read by children. It could be more of a YA novel.
The back of the book says the author found Ludlow’s memoirs concealed within the hollow of a wooden leg. She pieced together the memoirs and filled in the gaps with her imagination. I don’t know how true it is but the result is a very entertaining book.
I have read quite a few books on Witches and witch trials but I don’t think there are many written on the 1612 Pendle witch-hunt trial, at least not a...moreI have read quite a few books on Witches and witch trials but I don’t think there are many written on the 1612 Pendle witch-hunt trial, at least not as beautiful as this one. The author, Mary Sharratt, has focused on the story of Bess Southerns or Mother Demdike as she was known around that part.
Bess Southerns is a poor, old widow who lives in the Malkin Tower with her daughter Liza and her grand-daughter Alizon and grandson Jamie. Bess is a healer, she is known as a cunning women for her healing skills. She uses her old Catholic faith to pray for others even though it’s a banned faith and the retributions could be high. One small mistake, one small rumor and she could be hanged. Bess always tries to tread the right path and not harm anyone, to always use her gift for the good.
She teaches her healing charms to her best friend from childhood, Chattox. But in poverty and helplessness, she turns to dark magic. What this does to their friendship is indeed very sad. When Bess tries to teach her granddaughter Alizon some of her magic, she refuses. She is scared and runs away from the power that could be hers, which eventually lead to the Pendle witch trials.
Mary Sharratt’s writing is as beautiful as her descriptions are vivid. What I loved most about this book was the sense of place. She brings this time in Lancashire, England alive for the readers. She has used some excerpts from the book written by court clerk Thomas Potts which makes it even more real.
Since it is based on a true story, I knew what was going to happen in the end, but that didn’t stop me from biting my nails and wishing and hoping that it did not. Another thing that is very striking about this book are the strong female characters. In spite of their poverty and desperation, these women shine. They fight for their existence and try to keep their head high in the worst possible situations.
This is one book that will stay with me for a long time. For those who like to read about the witch hunts, definitely read this book. But even if you are not interested in them, you will definitely like this book. The daughters of the Witching Hill is so much more than just another witch-hunt story.(less)
I almost feel inadequate reviewing this book because I’m sure I haven’t understood everything the author wanted to convey. But I loved what I grasped...moreI almost feel inadequate reviewing this book because I’m sure I haven’t understood everything the author wanted to convey. But I loved what I grasped from it. That’s not to say the book is a difficult read, far from it.
Children of Dust is not merely a “memoir of Pakistan”, although the time the author spent in Pakistan, up-to the age of 10, was a large part of what constituted his religious outlook.
The book is divided into parts. The first part, when the author is a child, takes place in Pakistan. Here he describes living in a small town in Pakistan and going to a Madrasa which was a very traumatic experience. His parents were very religious and they wanted him to be a follower and a servant of Islam. When the family migrates to the US, the author starts to neglect Islam and concentrate on issues more important to teenagers-like fitting in, sexuality and finding ways to watch ‘Boy meets World’. It was refreshing to read first hand how a Muslim boy had to struggle with fitting in and also trying to follow his religion.
When he went to college far from home, although he struggled with same things he did before, he does become more friendly with people from his own community and gradually acquires a fundamentalist outlook. Without getting into too many details, he returns to Pakistan to find a pious girl and also to find out more about his ancestors. But instead of finding what he expected, he finds his ideas of an Islamic nation shattered. Here’s what he has to say after his visit to Pakistan.
I was sneered at by the very ones who were supposed to embrace me. I was rejected by the ones who were supposed to be purer-in character, in culture, in chivalry-than Americans. The brilliance that I’d associated with Islam just a few months earlier had now turned black. After a period of mourning and melancholy, I craved vengeance. I sought to undermine all that the presumably purer Muslims held sacred.
I found his shift in religious opinions very unsettling. It could be the result of blindly following what he had heard from his childhood and then finding out that not everything is what it is supposed to be. You would think a book about the authors religious journey will be boring, but it’s not, far from it. It’s fascinating, interesting, funny and most of all entertaining. And honest-very honest.
‘Children of Dust‘ is definitely unlike any memoir I have read before and I have read quite a few. Highly recommended.(less)
Kim was an ideal North Korean citizen. He had a high post in the government, made a lot of profit, worshiped their leader, put his country above his f...moreKim was an ideal North Korean citizen. He had a high post in the government, made a lot of profit, worshiped their leader, put his country above his family and was basically living an ideal life with his wife and 2 kids. Everything was perfect, until it wasn't.
Kim was an orphan and war orphans had an advantage in North Korea as their parents gave their life serving the country. Family background played a very important role in North Korea and even the 2nd and 3rd generations had to pay for something their parents or grandparents did or supposedly did.
Kim's world came crashing down when it was discovered that he was the son of an American spy who was executed by the Government. He was immediately arrested and sent to prison for what his father did, a father whom he did not even remember.
What happened to Kim and possibly many North Koreans was shocking to say the least. I can only question the sanity of someone who can put 2nd and 3rd generation loyalists for something they did not do. I might have understood a demotion but not putting him into one of the countries worst prison.
Kim did manage to escape to South Korea and eventually to the US, but before that he had to spend 6 years in hell. His journey from North Korea to South Korea was nerve breaking. I kept praying they don't catch him even though I knew they don't. The author brings to light the lives North Koreans lived and probably some of them still do under this horrific regime. He wants the world to know what is happening in the closed country.
The author is the only person who escaped Camp 16 and 14 and has lived to tell his story. There are not many books written about North Korea and this one is definitely worth reading.
In honour killing, the victims are not only those who are killed, but also those who killed. Ayse Onal takes us into the lives of the men who committe...moreIn honour killing, the victims are not only those who are killed, but also those who killed. Ayse Onal takes us into the lives of the men who committed these killings. So in a way its behind the scenes and into the psyche of those who thought such drastic measures were required to protect their honour.
The first story takes us into the life of a girl called Remziye who wanted to escape the life she saw her mother living. She didn’t want to be someone whose only purpose was to serve her husband. A boy called Ismael provided a opportunity to live a life she wanted and they both gradually fell in love with each other. But her marriage was already fixed to someone else and to escape from it she ran away with Ismael. After years of hiding from her family who had decided to kill her, she finally escaped to Austria. Hers is the only story in this book which does not end with her death.
Contrary to what I thought, the men in the family who killed do have a conscience and most do repent killing. They see it as a choice they do not have. After reading many stories like these I think I have a broader picture now. It’s not only the men but also women who seem to think that killing is the only option. In Remziye’s story, when her family decided to kill her, Remziye heard her mother say,”Whatever you do, don’t kill them in the house. There’ll be the bother of getting rid of the bodies. Shoot them among the trees and then dump the bodies somewhere“.
Killing somebody for protecting the honour does not only end the life of the one who is killed but also affects the life of those who are left behind and the ones behind bars. All the stories in this book were chilling and sad and although all the stories are set in Turkey there are similar ones happening all over the world.
In one of the stories, Murat killed his mother because she was having an affair with another man. He killed her because he couldn’t take people talking behind his back anymore, he couldn’t take the shame and the humiliation anymore. When he spoke to Ayse Onal from his prison he said,
As long as the mentality doesn’t change, no matter how severe the penalties – and the new penal laws are very severe – no matter how heavy the sanctions, this kind of thing will carry on. Because the person who does it has no idea of the terrible loneliness and the personal tragedy he will face afterwards. The only thought in his head is his belief that once he has done it, everyone around him will accept that his honour has been cleansed.
People who are faced with this kind of problem should consider it very carefully. You too die with the person you kill. She is sure to appear before your eyes every time you lie in your bed. This is an eternal punishment. In other words, you will have hanged yourself with your own hands.
It is not a solution and it does not address the underlying problem, but it will definitely help to decrease the number of women who are killed in the name of honour. It’s definitely a start. One step at a time. I recommend this book to everyone out there and really hope that more awareness is created.
Ice was another YA fantasy that was praised across the internet and one that I had high hopes for. I wont say I was disappointed...moreRating: 3.75 out of 5
Ice was another YA fantasy that was praised across the internet and one that I had high hopes for. I wont say I was disappointed completely but I had major problems with the first half to really enjoy the novel as a whole.
Ice is a retelling of the Norse folktale called East of the Sun and West of the Moon. While the folktale itself is awesome, I had the same problems with this book that I had with Shiver. Lets get to the story first.
Cassie thought that her mom died when she was very young. But later she comes to know that her mom is actually alive and trapped in the Troll castle at the end of the world called East of the Sun and West of the Moon. When the polar Bear king approaches her, she makes a pact with him. She will agree to marry him only if he brings her mother back from the Troll castle.
Now here is my first problem. How can Cassie marry a polar bear and even if she does I don’t understand her attraction towards him. I mean seriously, how can you fall in love with a bear?
Although there are explanations, I couldn’t really get into the book for the first half because I had so many questions. After I got over the fact that she could fall in love with a bear, the book came together for me.
The second half was amazing where Cassie has to travel to the Troll castle to rescue her husband, the bear King. Ms Durst can make you feel like you were present in the Icy Alaska. I’ve never thought that miles and miles of ice could be beautiful before reading this book. The end was awesome and really imaginative.
I do recommend this book because I know that not many people will have the problems that I had with this book. Read it if you love YA or fantasy or folk tale retellings.
I loved Memoirs of a Geisha, both the movie and the book. So when I found out that the Geisha on whom the book was based on or rather inspired from, h...moreI loved Memoirs of a Geisha, both the movie and the book. So when I found out that the Geisha on whom the book was based on or rather inspired from, has written an autobiography. Apparently, Ms Mineko Iwasaki was very upset over the way Geisha’s were portrayed by Arthur Golden and that he breached an understanding that her name was not to be mentioned anywhere, but he did, in the book as well as in interviews. She also got death threats from people who thought she had defaced Japanese culture. So she decided to write a book of her own.
Iwasaki’s parents were distraught when she decided to become a Geisha when she was just 5 years old. How a girl so young could make such a decision and how could the parents agree to it is something beyond me, even though she has tried to explain it. She goes to stay in an Okiya (a geisha house) and she is initiated into the trainings and numerous classes when she turns six.
A woman who is training to become a Geisha has a very disciplined life. There is traditional dancing, singing, playing instruments and also studying. Would-be Geisha’s are allowed to study until Junior High, in fact it’s kind of a rule.
Iwasaki excels in dancing and she is introduced as a maiko when she is 15 years old. After a few years of working as a maiko she becomes a geiko at age 21, which are the same names for a Geisha, just different hierarchies. She soon becomes one of the top geisha’s in Gion. In fact, today she almost has a legendary status.
What surprised me most was how systematic and well organized the world of a Geisha is. There is a list of all the girls that are going to come out as maiko’s. There is a Kimono Dealers association. There is a very strict hierarchy which if broken can result in serious consequences. The earnings of all the geisha’s are reported to the Geisha Committee (I think that’s whats it is), so everyone knows who the highest earning geisha for a particular year is.
The Geisha world itself is so complicated or may be I felt that way because I had not heard a lot about it. There is a rule of what kind of and what design a Kimono can have depending on seasons. Same goes for hairstyles and ornaments. It was exhausting just reading about it.
It is very clear that Ms Iwasaki loved and respected what she did and she has tried to dispel all the myth’s regarding geisha’s. She often sounds a bit egoistic and someone that could do no wrong. But we also need to understand the world she lived in, a world when no one, including one’s sister cannot be trusted. She lived by the motto: The Samurai betrays no weakness, even when starving. Pride above all. I can understand how easily pride can be mistaken for ego in the geisha world.
There are lots of minute details on a lot of things like the music school, the dance school, the different kinds of geisha’s, the customs and traditions. There are also descriptions on Kimono designs, hair ornaments and the kind. For e.g take this: My Kimono was made out of figured satin in variegated turquoise. The heavy hem of the train was dyed in shades of burnt orange, against which floated a drift of pine needles, maple leaves, cherry blossoms and chrysanthemum petals. My obi was made of black damask decorated with swallowtail butterflies. I wore a matching obi clasp of a swallowtail butterfly fashioned out of silver.
There are many passages like these which some people may find dry and boring. But I loved them, it helped me immerse myself in the book more. In fact 2 days after finishing this book I struggled with picking up another that was as engrossing as this one.
If I have to compare this book with Memoirs of a Geisha, I would say both are very different from each other. In Memoirs of a Geisha, we get a young, naive and endearing Sayuri, where as here we get a strong willed, dedicated Mineko. Arthur Golden seems to have picked the main storyline from one of the minor characters and mixed it with Iwasaki’s story to make it more dramatic. If you are looking for a “Memoirs of a Geisha” kind of book, you will be disappointed. But both are brilliant in their own way, one as page turning fiction and one as a real look into the Japanese culture. The simple fact that Geisha, A Life is a true story gives it a different feel altogether.(less)
I bought this book in a second hand bookstore. There is already a movie made on this so I’m sure I would never have picked it up f...moreRating: 4.5 out of 5
I bought this book in a second hand bookstore. There is already a movie made on this so I’m sure I would never have picked it up for normal price. I would have preferred watching the movie instead.
Anyway, I’m so glad I picked it up because I ended up loving it. I read this before the wedding so my memory is not that sharp but I do remember all the lovely characters from the book, most of all Novalee, so I guess that’s a big plus.
The book begins with Novalee Nation and her boyfriend traveling on road to get to some place where the boyfriend could get some job. Novalee is a teenager and is pregnant. Somewhere mid-journey when they stop at Walmart, the boyfriend chickens out and leaves Novalle at Walmart and drives off.
So here she is, 17 and pregnant, with no one to turn to for help. So she hides in Walmart and manages to stay there until the baby is born. But along the way she meets some people, strangers, who take her in and shower her with love and give her a place she could call home.
At times I think everything turned out to be too easy for Novalle, like everything just fell into place. I’m not sure that really happens in real life. What is the future of a 17 year old pregnant girl with no job, who knows no body in the town and has absolutely nothing going for her? It’s a miracle alright, something we have stopped believing in long ago. May be it’s time we stop being so cynical and believe there are people who are as unselfish as the ones Novalle met in that small town.
So in spite of what I now call a minor problem in the book, I absolutely loved and enjoyed reading Where the Heart is. It’s a heart warming story with endearing characters. You will find yourself rooting for Novalee and falling in love with her adorable little girl.
Guardian of the Flame takes us to 48 B.C Alexandria, Egypt. It’s the time when Julius Caesar and his troops have taken control of Alexandria and Cleop...moreGuardian of the Flame takes us to 48 B.C Alexandria, Egypt. It’s the time when Julius Caesar and his troops have taken control of Alexandria and Cleopatra and her younger brother Ptolemy are in exile.
But…this is not the story of Cleopatra, it’s the story of Sophia who is Cleopatra’s tutor and is the keeper of the strategic lighthouse.
Sophia is a woman who has made the lighthouse her refuge and has refused to mix and mingle with the town people. She has closed her heart to every possibility of love in every form for the fear of causing her more pain. This fear has a history of course which is revealed in due course of time. In this fortress of hers enters Bellus, a Roman General, who is given the task of guarding the lighthouse considering it is the most strategic location in Alexandra.
Bellus, who although is a great warrior, is very interested in knowledge and books as well. He is attracted to the mystery that is Sophia and in the end tries his best to guard his heart against what he sees as an obviously wrong and fatal attraction.
Guardian of the Flame is essentially a historical romance, both aspects of which the author T.L.Higley can write very well. The romance between Sophia and Bellus was so well done. She definitely knows how to build a convincing romance while also describing the turbulent conditions in Alexandra during that period. She has a rare skill of not letting one aspect of the story overshadow the other.
That brings me to the history. Honestly I didn’t know much about Cleopatra and Caesar and I got to know so much about it through this book. Of course I did Google a little afterwards just to find out how much was fact and fiction. She describes the hub of knowledge and discovery that Alexandra once was and builds a story around it too. Also the incident where Cleopatra hides inside a carpet and then rolls out of it in front of Caesar was priceless. The author describes what Cleopatra must have gone through during that time. I had a hard time believing it actually happened and that it was not the author’s creation.
T.L.Higley knows how to convincingly mix history and fiction and make it appealing to an average reader too. If you haven’t tried one of her books, you really ought to. Start with Shadow of Colossus, a book, I absolutely adored but then do read Guardian of the Flame too. Both these books are part of the 7 wonders of the ancient World Series. The beauty of the series is that each book stands independently so you can start with any book that appeals to you.
Note: This book is also categorized as Christian fiction but it’s not in the face, so non-Christians like me can enjoy it as well.