There was a question on one of the book pages I frequent: "Name the last book that kept you up all night." It was an easy question for me to answer. S...moreThere was a question on one of the book pages I frequent: "Name the last book that kept you up all night." It was an easy question for me to answer. Since I read all the time, I hardly stay up all night to finish a book; I have all day to do it. However, in a trip to Thailand many years ago, I hid in the bathroom to finish a book, a rather difficult book due to all the historical facts. I hid in the bathroom so my light did not bother the other members of my family (prior Kindle time). The book, The Twentieth Wife, was by this author. Since then, I've read a few more books by Indu Sundaresan, and none has disappointed me. I enjoyed this story as much as, if not more than, all the others.
This book, like all her books, was written with intensive research into the history of India (also England in this case.) The story is centered around the Koh-i-Noor diamond, a gorgeous yellow diamond that's was held by rulers in Hindu, Mughal, Turkic, Afghan, Sikh and finally British, countries. The diamond was once around 186 carats and its name means "Mountain of Light." It has a curse that is believed for centuries to bring bad luck to all its male owners. They suffered from sicknesses, the loss of their throne, or worse, death. Only women owners could wear it safely without suffering any ill effects.
“The diamond is said to have held a curse. Legend had it that the Kohinoor could be safely possessed only by a woman, that no man who had it would long hold his kingdom, and that it could never be worn in the official crown of a monarch (hence, perhaps, the reason it was worn in an armlet or set in a throne). In India, Persia, and Afghanistan, during the diamond’s tumultuous and bloody history, only men owned the Kohinoor.” **
With her known beautiful words and realistic descriptions of people and sights of the period, along with reliable facts, the story begins when the Koh-i-Noor was given to the Punjab ruler Maharajah Ranjit Singh so he could help the Afghan ruler Shah Shuja regain his lost throne. The story ended with the death of Dulip Singh in Paris and the ownership of Koh-i-Noor in British Empire. From page one, the reader will feel transported back to the sound and sight of old India. Through out the book, you will experience the love of the young who are full of hope for a better future; the power of rulers, the betrayal and loyalty of human, the architecture and sights of India, the brutality of conquest, and the sadness and hopelessness of old age and along with losing one’s country. The smell of Chai and saffron will still linger after you close the book. It’s the best journey a reader could ever hope to achieve.
Other than everything that mentioned above...this story offers a very interesting take on the effect of colonialism. It's quite a sad book to read. I couldn't help but feel a sense of loss for the diamond, for the puppet maharajah Dulip Singh...and for his three children that all had no heir. History, which could never be forgotten, influences all of us. Will the human race really learn from their past mistakes?
If you have time, google the Koh-i-Noor and admire it on the crown of the Queen of England. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, regardless how it was obtained…
**Thanks to Washington Square Press for a preview galley. The quote was from the advanced reader's copy. (less)
It's not hard to rate it. I knew it's going to get a 5-star from me early from the beginning. The review is...moreIt's hard to write a review for this book.
It's not hard to rate it. I knew it's going to get a 5-star from me early from the beginning. The review is difficult since it's not a thriller, nor plot-driven, nor has poetic passages, nor it's realistic, nor a fantasy, nor dystopian...and it's not about love. Those people who knows me know how I love books about love.
One the other hand, I also love books about books and reading. Nothing also pleases me more than to read a book and learn something tangible. This book has the following subjects that highly interest me:
San Francisco Berkeley New York City Reading Books Book Selling Book Store Technology Computers Google Other high Tech Companies Fonts Software designs Robotics Data archives A geek A female geek More geeks History A mystery Codes A secret society KINDLE and other eReaders Museum A quest Knitting...yes, you heard me right...knitting
The narrator is absolutely fabulous and funny. For example, on a just-like-new copy of Steve Job's Biography on the book store shelf:
Maybe it had been a Christmas present to a tech-executive dad who didn't actually read books. Or maybe Tech dad wanted to read it on his Kindle...
Or a Google employee:
He's dressed like a skater, so I assume he has a PhD in artificial intelligence.
Our narrator is Clay, and he just gotten a job as a grave clerk in Mr. Penumbra's book store. The book store shelves are three-floor high, and there's a secret group of special customers...who borrow weird and special books. What are they doing, who are they? It's up to you to find out....but, if you like what I listed up there, it will be a joyous ride. Since this is a debut, the plot was a bit weak, predictable and narration windy at times, but it's worth it. I tremendously enjoyed the ending and the setting of the book. (less)
After reading Jim Trelease' "The Read Aloud Handbook" and a series of other more inferior books about reading to children with book recommendations, I...moreAfter reading Jim Trelease' "The Read Aloud Handbook" and a series of other more inferior books about reading to children with book recommendations, I stopped at getting similar books since I think one inspirational/informative book is enough in this area. However, this book proved me wrong. One of the author, Roger Sutton, has been the editor of the magazine "Hornbook" for many years, and both the Hornbook and he are well known by their seriousness in picking the reviewing Children's publications and their strictness in giving stars.
The book read like a triple feature Hornbook magazine. Everything I like about the magazine is in the book. There are famous children's authors, writing about different topics/genres and their point of views in things relating to Children's literature. I always love reading "other" writings from authors, which make me understand them more. There is a chapter on every genre, from book for babies all the way to Young Adult Fiction. The book recommendations are great, including a few new ones that were not included in The Read Aloud Handbook. Since Mr. Trelease hasn't been updating his famous book, I might have to give this one to new parents from now on....(less)