The Thrush Green series was highly recommended to me by a person on the forum Glyphs, which still exists but in a much toned down version. I thought t...moreThe Thrush Green series was highly recommended to me by a person on the forum Glyphs, which still exists but in a much toned down version. I thought the forum a bit snooty but ......Sadly the book was hardly what I had expected. The Thrush series is much like Miss Marple, or the Inspector Morse on TV without the crimes, so no zing. However, the garden descriptions are truly spectacular, the flowers and those garden parties and fetes, the story lukewarm. Just a genteel slice of England. I think that we in the Orient love a bit of passion! (less)
His birth records were never found, they were not of great importance, after all he was the son of a blacksmith who once beat him within an inch of de...moreHis birth records were never found, they were not of great importance, after all he was the son of a blacksmith who once beat him within an inch of death. His experiences in Italy go unrecorded but they did shape his life, how he rose to such immense power is unimportant to him after all he had much more interesting story to tell, he could tell us the convoluted and very fascinating story of Henry the VIII King of England, you see he was right in the middle of everything that ever happened. Of course Henry the VIII’s story involves so very many people and they all emerge from centuries ago as Cromwell lays their lives bare to us. We hear Cromwell tell us about their joys, ambitions, their desperation, their triumphs, sadness intertwined with his own story with his own joys, ambitions, desperation, triumphs; through it all we glimpse his own sadness and loneliness. Cromwell shouts and rages with Henry the VIII King of England when he wants a male heir which Catherine of Aragon cannot give him. So many dead princes. He weeps with Catherine of Aragon when she realises that her husband Henry will do anything to marry Anne Boleyn. He shares her desperation when Henry banishes her to damp, dank castles far away from the Court. He listens patiently to Anne Boleyn, her frustrations. How sly she is….. could she be so like him? A kindred spirit? How he laughs with Cardinal Wolsey and their witty conversations, he never leaves the Cardinal not even the Cardinal is exiled. What a wily diplomat with all the ambassadors and papal legates, the Emperor and the King of France. He understands Lady Mary’s loneliness, separated from her mother. From an heir to the throne to a bastard. Even tries to get her to eat, strangely he is the only person she trusts. He knows what a hopeless life Mary Boleyn leads. Just a plaything for the King, when Anne is pregnant, she is supposed to jump into the King’s bed. Desperate to marry, but no takers. How well he negotiates with the manipulative Boleyns, the Seymours and sails through it all with aplomb dressed in the best of fabrics. He hides deep in his heart the sorrow for his wife Liz, never able to reconcile her death. Of course he enjoys his liaison with Johane, his wife’s sister. He needs to feel a full blooded man. His heart breaks into tiny shards when he thinks of his dead daughters Anne and Grace. Such deep pride in the success of his many wards Rafe and Richard, works hard to see them well settled. His love for exotic foods, such joy to share recipes from Italy with his cook Thurston. Wriothesley, Richie and Audley, lawyers and scholars whom he admires and with whom he works very hard. A visit to Thomas More plunges him in More’s household, tries so hard to get More to recant but More is content to be a martyr, in the end exposes More for what he really is, a cruel man who enjoys torturing and killing people in the name of God. He however shares his anonymity with Jane Seymour, the only Queen who gives Henry the VIII his only male heir, both important but overlooked by centuries of history, important at the time but forgettable down the centuries. (less)
When Aunt Grace comes to visit her nephew John who is a hard working surgeon she is surprised at the way his children have turned out; there is Pam th...moreWhen Aunt Grace comes to visit her nephew John who is a hard working surgeon she is surprised at the way his children have turned out; there is Pam the eldest, beautiful and very intelligent but conceited and so full of herself, Tony who is intelligent but mean and spiteful spends his time playing tricks on his school master, Lizzie talented but without any spunk a scapegoat for her older siblings and the twins David and Delia who love the garden and work so very hard to learn everything they possibly can from the gardener Frost but wrapped up in their own world. The Mother thinks of her older two children as brilliant and excuses their bad behaviour as only some besotted mothers can, ignoring Lizzie as mediocre and the twins as babies. But things sometimes do not work out as we want them to, the Father meets with a terrible accident which could leave him incapacitated for a long time to come. The grit and determination with which every member of the family works to turn things around is simply amazing. Simple things but everything done with a lot of hard work, determination to change and be a part of the family, down to earth sound common sense with no frills is what works for the Farrell family. Although a lot has been said about Enid Blyton, her books speak of a lot of excellent values, applicable not only to children but to any adult. This one particularly was an eye opener. (less)
There was nothing in this book which can even remotely be called 'powerful'. A understated tale of brother-sister love and separation. It is a book fu...moreThere was nothing in this book which can even remotely be called 'powerful'. A understated tale of brother-sister love and separation. It is a book full of violence, a terrible boarding school where the boys are violent. The twins feel the separation and loneliness intensely which leads them to acts of violence and confusion much like my feelings as I struggled to see some glimpse of the plot (less)
Reviewing this book is difficult. What does one say about Christ? Strangely I started reading this book during the Holy Week and it probably accounts...moreReviewing this book is difficult. What does one say about Christ? Strangely I started reading this book during the Holy Week and it probably accounts for the deep impression it had on me. Christ a learned rabbi, finds that there is an emptiness in him, and goes in search of St. John the Baptist, the preacher in the wild, who has a tremendous impact on him and his teachings. What Christ learns is that whatever you do, the strength comes from within oneself, he is a conduit from God, never once does he attribute his healing to Himself, it is all from God. I particularly liked the way he tells us about the miracle of Canaan, simply put he knew the exact measures of some liquid and water to produce good wine! Beautiful and humble. The book is full of such experiences..... (less)
The story of a deeply religious Jewish boy....there is joy and laughter, sorrow and pain. Dozens of relatives some good and some bad, funny quirky rel...moreThe story of a deeply religious Jewish boy....there is joy and laughter, sorrow and pain. Dozens of relatives some good and some bad, funny quirky relatives, money grabbing relatives, deeply religious uncles, gossiping aunts, grandmothers who cook wonderful food, mothers who show off their kids. Girls, when can we kiss them? Do we marry a Gentile? We have it all with slight variations...... Only Wouk makes it all so wonderful!(less)
Sonia rushes to the shelf that houses Pamuk’s books, his visit to Goa has got everyone in a tizzy, should we read Pamuk or not is the question of the...moreSonia rushes to the shelf that houses Pamuk’s books, his visit to Goa has got everyone in a tizzy, should we read Pamuk or not is the question of the day. Nobel Laureate visiting our homeland after all. Museum of Innocence she thinks, how quaint, comfortably seated she plunges into the book; her eagerness knows no bounds….
Page 1; Wow, sex on the very first page. Isn’t that a tad antiquated? A Nobel Laureate knows what he is doing. She reads better writing is sure to follow…..
Page 5-25; High society of Istanbul, Kamal bey, the protagonist belongs to this set of aristocrats, they control most of the wealth in Turkey. Privileged people, living the life of the über rich, visiting all the hot spots, eating delicious food, drinking imported champagne, their women most of them Sorbonne educated, liberated, think nothing of sleeping with their fiancé before marriage. Sibel and Kamal bey are all set to marry and live a beautiful life just like all the wealthy do in Istanbul.
Pages 30-6o; Enter Fusun, beautiful, impoverished a distant relative to Kamal bey, torrid love affair begins, but should a nice girl like Fusun ‘ruin’ her reputation in such a fashion? After all Kamal bey cannot marry her. Come now her mother is just a seamstress, worked for Kamal bey’s Mother. Of course she is tolerated as a poor relative; the family even invites her for Kamal bey’s engagement to Sibel. That was so nice, her parents were overjoyed.
Pages 65 – 100; Affair continues, lovers quarrel incessantly, their love is not written in the stars, it just cannot be. Kamal bey obsessed by Fusun runs to his parent’s apartment where he sleeps with her every evening at the appointed hour, when he is not making love to her he paces the streets like a madman hoping to see Fusun. A man possessed. Hey is this just a triangular love story….?
Pages 119 – 203; Affair continues, lovers quarrel incessantly, Sibel breaks off the engagement, she wants to marry a very rich normal guy after all there are many such men in Istanbul. Kamal bey begins visiting Fusun’s home, turns a kleptomaniac, nothing of importance mind you, just cigarette butts, occasional saltshakers, some forgotten hairpins, and barrettes - things not difficult to pick up.
Pages 216 – 250; Fusun wants to act in movies, affair continues, lovers quarrel incessantly. Kamal bey has now amassed a huge collection of cigarette butts; all have touched Fusun’s rosy lips, graduates to larger and more visible objects like ashtrays, cups, and slippers. Is it for the thrill of it? What’s this new avatar?
Pages 270 – 299; Obsession continues, somewhere down the line Fusun gets married, Kamal bey begins having dinner regularly at Fusun’s home, no affair, only haughty glances from Fusun and an occasional brushing of bodies. Tiny apartments are good for such close contacts. Kamal bey decides to back Feridun, Fusun’s husband, in producing a film. Kleptomania continues.
Pages 299-350; The movie is stuck, nothing comes out of it, Psssst Kamal bey was just humouring Fusun so that he could meet her every day. Fusun very tired and dejected, Feridun very tired and dejected, obsession continues, kleptomania continues. Kamal bey is turning his parent’s apartment into a shrine of obsession.
**spoiler alert** Everyone who has a problem seems to move to the small estate which once belonged to Victoria Macara. Victoria herself a 27 year old...more**spoiler alert** Everyone who has a problem seems to move to the small estate which once belonged to Victoria Macara. Victoria herself a 27 year old woman is nursing a broken heart but luckily is on her way to the United States to start a fresh life which she never does for she dies in the World Trade Centre collapse. There is the odd couple, Kathleen and Steve, he a porter she a medical doctor who revel in sex, there is nothing to their relationship but sex and more sex. Poor Rachel and her husband Frank with their terrible secret, the death of their very young daughter. Frank has one solution to his problems, blame Rachel, she allowed their precious daughter to die. Rachel of course realizes she is a strong woman after she nearly commits suicide and is saved by the very caring neighbours. What awful secrets are the Jordan’s hiding; just that Marie sees her wonderful husband Mickey shot before her very own eyes and now is on the run, with a priest and her two sons. Only to realise later that the priest is a drug dealer and was the man behind her husband’s murder; who would have thought that. Sarah on the run from an abusive husband picks the pieces of her life with the help of her neighbours and her gorgeous children. Gareth and Debbie who have terrible rows about Debbie’s outrageous spending habits until Debbie learns about Gareth’s affair with Victoria, and decides to change her life and mend her ways so as not to lose her husband And the sweet couple Ernie and Anna just want to live a quiet life. Such warmth and love surrounds all the neighbours, slowly but surely everything falls into place, everyone finds a way to accept, to find new paths and most of all to deal with events that cannot be changed. For life is all about going on and never looking back…… (less)
Which person does not like Chocolate! Most people are crazy for it, so when young Charlie Bucket wins one of the five most coveted Golden Tickets, it’...moreWhich person does not like Chocolate! Most people are crazy for it, so when young Charlie Bucket wins one of the five most coveted Golden Tickets, it’s a ray of lightning galvanising everyone into action. Charlie Bucket is one of the five children who together with their parents are allowed a tour of the prestigious factory, Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, that grandfather Joe had talked so much about. Oh the wonders that await them at the Factory, the amazing array of Snozzberries, Slugworth and Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight, add to it, an everlasting gobstopper, fizzy lemonade swimming pools, lickable wallpaper and the river of chocolate, where Augustus Gloop addicted to chocolate, bends down for a drink, falls face down and is sucked by an enormous pipe. Violet Beauregarde who just cannot stay without chewing gum, tempted by a strip of gum which promises a full three course meal, sadly the dessert had not until then been well researched, Violet Beauregarde finds herself bloated into an enormous blueberry. Veruca Salt, so spoiled, so bold insists on taking one of the squirrels who is engaged in sorting out nuts, as a pet, only to be pushed inside a garbage chute by the squirrels en masse. And Mike Teavee completely addicted to television, demands he be “sent by television” and sadly gets shrunk in the process. Charlie and his grandfather, never expect anything, they just want to enjoy the wonderful opportunity, savour each lovely moment for the rest of their lives. Of course, Dahl has a moralistic streak in him and after every mishap; the Oompa Loompas sing a rhyme, they explain the reason for that particular mishap. A sort of take on some of the cardinal vices, we have gluttony and the way Augustus Gloop, the greedy person meets his end. We have the very spoiled Veruca Salt being taught a lesson, the disobedient Violet Beauregard suffering. But it is TV watching that really gets Dahl terribly angry as can be heard from the Oompa Loompa song .. But did you ever stop to think, To wonder just exactly what This does to your beloved tot? IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD! IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD! IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND! IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND! HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE! HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE! HE CANNOT THINK - HE ONLY SEES! "All right!" you'll cry. "All right!" you'll say, "But if we take the set away, What shall we do to entertain Our darling children? Please explain!" We'll answer this by asking you, "What used the darling ones to do? "How used they keep themselves contented Before this monster was invented?" Have you forgotten? Don't you know? We'll say it very loud and slow: THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ, AND READ and READ, and then proceed To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks! One half their lives was reading books! In the end we realise that although they are not aware of it, the children are competing for the biggest prize of all, the heir to the Chocolate factory, as expected Charlie wins the prize. Now here is where the movie and the book versions differ. Charlie, seems very selfish in the book, zooms off after forcing his family to join him as the owner of the factory. The movie however has a better ending; Charlie refuses to live in Willie Wonkas factory because his family is not wanted by Willie Wonka, instead lives in his old house, things get a little better for Charlie’s family. But Willie Wonka keeps coming to Charlie’s house to partake in the simple lives of the Bucket family, enjoying life more, surrounded by a large family. (less)
What relief that António Gomes has strayed far away from the favourite themes of the Indo-Portuguese writers, Devdasis, muscular sadhus reclining on t...moreWhat relief that António Gomes has strayed far away from the favourite themes of the Indo-Portuguese writers, Devdasis, muscular sadhus reclining on tiger skins. Or the other genre, the batkar-shetkar with kashti, pez, hunger and poverty thrown in. Sadly he could not resist the most favourite of all the themes an inter caste marriage, but this aspect is just a part of a beautiful book. Eschewing these time tested themes, António Gomes boldly writes about a landowning Brahmin Catholic family from Loutolim in Goa. Set a little before the Liberation of Goa in 1961 and ending a little after the Opinion Poll in 1967, the story describes the joys and sorrows, the mistakes made by the Albuquerque Family, the repercussions but most of all he dwells on those heady days when the hippies found magical Goa. Paulo, returns to Goa after completing his Degree in Law at the prestigious University of Coimbra, but this is also the story of so many young men from ‘Boas Familias’ who moved to Coimbra to finish a Law Degree, bleeding their parents dry; some did extremely well but a great number, whiled away their lives, spending money in bars, visiting prostitutes, the Law degree hanging somewhere out there. Most stayed as paying guests with impoverished landladies who took in students to supplement their income. The landladies doted on these well to do students who in turn abused their hospitality. Life for some of these aspiring lawyers was a never ending carousel of fun until the loan sharks caught up with them, as they did with Paul. Amanda the daughter falls in love with Winnie a college professor, the eternal route taken by Indo-Portuguese writers, rich girl from Brahmin Family falls in love with poor but highly educated man of lower class. Tears, recriminations, threats follow but here António Gomes gives it a twist, Amanda the highly romantic woman does marry Winnie, despite the fact that he is practically on death bed, makes love to him on her Wedding Night, and in the manner of most romantic heroines commits suicide, although saved in the nick of time. You see both Amanda and Maria are brought up as fragile creatures, nurtured on Romance, they dream beautiful clothes, serenatas, the highlight of their lives Baile de Escola Médica where they would dance the night away in the arms of their loved one, envied by the less fortunate girls. Once married, life turns drab, hardly any balls, the husband perpetually busy. With no training whatsoever they have no clue how to run a house, cooking? That’s for the maids, but in Europe or America where are the maids? How to spend those endless hours? No desire to improve their life, because their life in their opinion, is already perfect, how they long for Goa, the chatter, the clothes, the maids at their beck and call. Life is a mass of depression, mothers and ayahs to their rescue, but for how long? So long holidays back home…….The Mothers, Aunts and ayahs all shield the ‘delicate’ Baie. Roberto, nobody thought of him as a genius just an ordinary hardworking boy, everybody thinks of him as mediocre, not to be confused with Paulo the Mother’s pet. But sometimes surprises spring from nowhere. He achieves much just by dint of sheer hard work. You get a catch in your throat when António Gomes describes the dinner for the return of Paulo, the typical mix of Goan and Portuguese food, the wines; Dona Isabel’s flower arrangements. The soiree plans made by this very musical family. And when Dona Isabel says ‘Roberto water my Begonias’ you are yanked back in time with violence; for you realise those joyful, heady times have made way for a different set of variations in etiquette and all that was dear. Roberto is no angel, he has his whisky-sodas, he mixes with the hippie crowd in Baga and Anjuna, samples drugs, experiences the highs and lows of hash, has his liaisons but unlike his wayward brother keeps his wits about and graduates a brilliant Doctor. The scariest aspect however is will those stately mansions go the way Roberto’s house with only an old, trembling Carmina to take care of them?