Around a year back, everybody I know had read this book and was talking about it. It was as if the world was taken up by a storm and everywhere I see,Around a year back, everybody I know had read this book and was talking about it. It was as if the world was taken up by a storm and everywhere I see, I was seeing references to this book. I read the blurb of this book and I was intrigued. As a working woman (and a working mother), I wanted to know what advice Sheryl Sandberg had to give me and so I bought the book.
Sandberg starts off with the facts that we already know. Women are underpaid, the man-woman ratio in the corporate industry is pathetic and working women play a tug of war between home and work. It was somewhat consoling to know that the COO of Facebook faces the same kind of issues that an average woman faces. What I really wanted to know is how she tackles them.
From the point of view of solving these issues, I don’t see this book being very useful. Sandberg shares her issues and insecurities and tells us how she dealt with them, but just like with most things in life, these are very subjective and may not work for everybody. I cringed when I read that a woman would make her kids sleep in school-wear to save 15 mins in the morning. Does it work? May be. Would I do it? No way. Also, having a spouse who is more flexible than you are and also affordable and reliable childcare is not available for everybody. In India, even if I am ready to spend on childcare, it is difficult to find one which is trustworthy. Mainly because there are no strict regulations for day care centers and even if they are, they aren’t really followed. These are some issues that no Sandberg can solve.
Some of the things that Sandberg mentions are eye-openers. Not speaking up in meetings, tending to stay behind shadows, not negotiating for salary hard enough and so on. She also talks about how it is acceptable to switch jobs even when you are or planning to be pregnant. She might be open minded enough to hire a pregnant woman (and Marissa Mayer for switching jobs), but not all organizations are like that. I personally know of a case where a woman’s offer letter was withdrawn when they realized she is pregnant. Of course, no organization is dumb enough to cite this as a reason, but this still happens.
Sandberg comes across as someone who thinks a woman’s life is valued as long as she is working or doing something worthwhile like charity. I take an issue with this. A woman can just be at home, cooking and cleaning and taking care of kids and still be valued, as long as that is what the woman wants to do.
While I didn’t really get all the answers I was looking for, I was glad to know women all over the world are constantly battling the same issues that I am. It gives me some solace that I am not alone. I would recommend this book to every woman, working or otherwise. You can always take away something from this book....more
The title of the book refers to Cecilia, who plays the perfect wife and mom and who think she knows her husband like herself, and her husband's secretThe title of the book refers to Cecilia, who plays the perfect wife and mom and who think she knows her husband like herself, and her husband's secret which is tucked away in a letter addressed to her with instructions 'To be read only in the event of my death'. Cecilia happens to find this letter in the attic and a casual mention of this over phone to her away-from-home husband elicits extreme reaction from him forcing Cecilia to read it before her husband can snatch the letter away from her.
What follows is the revelation of the secret and how it affects the other two women in the book. Tess finds out that her husband has been cheating on her and decides to walk away from her marriage and off to her mom's house. Rachel lost her daughter when she was in her teens and still cannot come to terms with it. She has transformed her world to revolve around her grandson but is told the shocking news that her son and his family would be moving to another country, hence shattering Rachel's world all over again.
The plot is interesting and the book jumps into the secret letter part from the get-go. Tess's part moves relatively slowly and is the least interesting part. There are additional characters in the story like the sports teacher who is Tess's ex-boyfriend and who happens to be Cecilia's daughter's crush and who is suspected by Rachel as her daughter's killer. There are many things which overlaps these three women's lives and full credit to the author to come up with such intertwining characters.
The book does not have superlative writing or thought-provoking elements, but the plot and the characters tug at your heart and you are eager to know what happens in their lives. This book is great for some light reading on a long flight....more
The Lowland refers to the stretch of marshy land between two ponds. The story is set in West Bengal, around Calcultta and is Complete review on my blog
The Lowland refers to the stretch of marshy land between two ponds. The story is set in West Bengal, around Calcultta and is about two brothers, Subhash and Udayan. Subhash, the elder one, is the responsible and more careful one while Udayan is more of a rebel. They both grow up under the same roof and notice their drastically different nature and reaction to events. Subhash moves to the US to pursue his studies, much to the chagrin of his younger brother who is a communist in the making and hates anything to do with America. Subhash is leading his freedom-filled life, while Udayan goes on to marry his love Gauri against his parents’ wishes. One thing leads to another and Udayan is shot down by the police force due to his involvement with the Naxalites.
Subhash decides to take up Gauri and her unborn baby’s responsibility and decides to marry her. Gauri is delighted by the offer as she can get away from her hateful in-laws and a chance to study further in the US. The relationship between the baby and Subhash is one of the highlights of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed and could relate to the father-daughter relationship and somewhat with Gauri too. As the story progressed, I developed a kind of contempt towards Gauri for being the way she was. The rest of the book sees the characters aging further and several tracks and characters are introduced. I can’t reveal much without labeling this review as a spoiler....more
Princess Elizabeth’s Spy is set in the World War 2 era, where the Germans are plotting the King’s assassination. Suspicions are rife that Germans arePrincess Elizabeth’s Spy is set in the World War 2 era, where the Germans are plotting the King’s assassination. Suspicions are rife that Germans are even planning to kidnap Princess Elizabeth so as to deprive England of an heir and then plant the friendly Duke in the King’s place. With this information in hand, the MI-5 plans to install Maggie Hope, a mathematician and a close aide of Churchill, at the castle to safeguard the Princess.
Unlike the usual war novels, where the lead is a typical strong and independent male, Maggie Hope comes across as a breath of fresh air. With her strengths and limitations, she feels more human as an MI-5 agent. The story moves quickly and there are a lot of twists and turns in the tale. Some incidents do make you wonder what are the odds of that happening, if not for giving our Maggie an upper hand in solving the crime, but fortunately such incidents are not too many. The climax especially was so silly, that it is very clear it was written for the sole reason to have our heroine in the scene to take the credit. I wish the author had come up with plausible reasons. And also not to offer the case on a platter and make it atleast a tiny bit harder for Maggie to solve the crime. This was not a typical ‘sit on your edge and wonder who the killer is’ mystery novel. The plot is fabulous, so the author could have done a better job keeping up the anticipation and mystery.
Even though this is not the first Maggie Hope book, this can still be read independently. There are references to some names and incidents of the first book, but those in no way diminish the reading experience.
I read this on my tiny Samsung Galaxy S3 and was pleasantly surprised with the experience. It was easier to hold the phone and read in bed. Moon+ Reader is a great ebook reading app for Android and I am even thinking of investing in the Pro version....more
This book is set in the Victorian era with its beautifully dressed ladies with their lovely hats and their afternoon teas. Princess Alexandria, aka MiThis book is set in the Victorian era with its beautifully dressed ladies with their lovely hats and their afternoon teas. Princess Alexandria, aka Mink, is left orphaned and penniless when her father passes away suddenly under controversial conditions. She is forced to move out of the Maharajah’s palace and move into a less royal Court Palace where she has to share the space with others. Her loyal servant Pooki stays loyal and moves in with her at the Hampton Court Palace.
One of the residents is murdered and the primary suspect happens to be Pooki. Mink is confident her servant is innocent, so she sets out to solve the mystery herself. She analyses the incidents as a detective would do and finds the culprit using her intellect. Along with the murder mystery plot, we also see a love story on the sides and other sub-plots which keep the reader interested. The mystery itself is quite silly. The way things fall on Mink’s feet to be solved and how easily she is able to get a confession from others is a bit hard to believe.
I have read quite a few murder mysteries and this one doesn’t really do justice to the mystery or the solving part of it. I like this book not for its page-turning qualities, but for its simple charm. The characters, the way they dress, the way they talk, their little rituals of calling on your neighbors and having afternoon teas and going around with the flowing dresses and hats. Yeah, I like the Victorian England, why do you ask?
Mink is one of the strongest female leads I have read. She is confident, strong and so sure of herself. She sets out to solve the mystery and so she does. Pooki, with her quirky temper and child like tantrums is adorable. Mink-Pooki are more of like friends than master-servant which makes them all the more adorable. There are other characters which stand out (American visitor) and become memorable.
Julia Start paints a beautiful picture of the old England. I love the bookcover. Oh yes, it is a maze and it has some significance in the story, but the reason it is on the bookcover is because this is the view Mink and Pooki get from their window.
A nice, little, charming book. Read it for the writing and characters and not for the mystery....more
As the world moved from paper books to ebooks, I just stood by and watched the others make this transition. While I love the flexibility of carrying aAs the world moved from paper books to ebooks, I just stood by and watched the others make this transition. While I love the flexibility of carrying all the books around in a thin tablet, the beauty and tangibility of paper books was something I couldn’t let go. I decided to give ebooks a try this year, mainly to see if I like them okay or hate them. When I was browsing books on Kindle, Amazon threw this book at me as a recommendation. A quick read of the blurb was enough to buy the book. I don’t own a Kindle, so I read this on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet with Kindle app. I will reserve my comments on the ebook experience for the end.
The Age of Miracles documents the changes in the life of a 10-year old girl, Julia, and her “coming of age” (never really understood what the term meant) which may or may not have been caused by the environmental change, which is referred to as ‘slowing’, where the earth’s rotation slows down and the days become longer each day. Julia is like any other 10-year old, with her best friend Hannah, her crush Seth and her parents whose marriage looks fine superficially, which Julia realizes is not so pleasant from the inside.
The slowing of earth is used as a backdrop against which Julia’s life is chronicled, but the novel could have as well written without this science fiction part in it. We see old relationships breaking, new ones being formed, marriages being broken and rebuilt, losing loved ones, denying catastrophic situations and coming to accept them later and all this through an adolescent’s eyes. I loved certain parts of the book (Julia’s grandfather’s episodes, Seth’s episodes) whereas some turned out artificial (Hannah, Sylvia).
To me, Julia’s voice came out as distant and sometimes indifferent, which made it hard for me to relate to her character. She sometimes appears shallow and unreal whereas at certain times, she tugged at my heart. Julia’s mother was much more of a believable character to me with her constant worries and anxieties.
The novel is readable, characters are well developed, the plot is interesting, but for whatever reason, I really couldn’t connect to the book. There was nothing in it which made me pause and think or recollect something after I finished reading it. After reading all the rave reviews, looks like it’s not the book, but it’s me who is not getting the book. We just didn’t click.
My first ebook reading went surprisingly well. I thought I would miss the touch of paper, which I did, but I also liked the ability to read it at night while the others slept on. I didn’t have to disturb them by keeping the room lights on. The tab is light enough to hold while sleeping. My eyes were strained after prolonged reading, but I am hoping this issue won’t arise with non-backlit ones like Kindle E-Ink readers. I could carry the tab with me and read the book while I waited for my turn at the clinic. The ability to bookmark, take notes and keep my progress synced between PC and my tab was really great. While I don’t see and end to the paper book reading, I definitely foresee a rise in ebook reading....more