Although the book is pitched as a no-holds-barred intimate journal of a woman coming into an awareness of her sexuality(The author is Nikki Gemmell.)
Although the book is pitched as a no-holds-barred intimate journal of a woman coming into an awareness of her sexuality, not much is fully laid bare here. There is hardly anything enlightening regarding the complexities of the female body or the intricacies of the female mind.
This is neither a diary nor a novel. It’s an amalgam of female gripes, frustrations, and obsessions that one is likely to encounter as filler content in women’s magazines and self-help books. Female readers will gravitate towards the unnamed woman’s quotidian dilemmas and temptations, since each one of us is likely to identify with at least one aspect of the everywoman portrayed here. In fact, the narrative voice here is ‘you,’ a technique simple and yet effective in luring the female reader into the center of Anonymous’ universe. Furthermore, the narrative format - brief chapters/segments (merely 2-5 pages in duration) arranged in a monolinear sequence, rarely traveling back in time, or deeper into the psyche of the woman supposedly laying herself bare – requires no effort, allowing the book to be quickly ingested and easily digested by any level of reader.
Having read two passable books by Nisha Minhas (Passion & Poppadoms, The Marriage Market), I have to admit this one is a total disappointment. TheHaving read two passable books by Nisha Minhas (Passion & Poppadoms, The Marriage Market), I have to admit this one is a total disappointment. The plot is all over the place, with no unifying structure, or thematic or character development to keep things going along. The writing needs some serious editing. Scenes are often interrupted with pointless details about this or that to give some sort of backstory, but by the next page this information is inconsequential and easily forgotten. It's impossible to sympathize with any of the main characters. We are never sure where they stand, and whether what they say to one another is ever the truth. Their behavior, either out of nastiness, duplicity, plain dumbness or emotional naiveté is cringeworthy and the reader dare not take any character's side. The main problem with the novel's story is Cloey's neverending nastiness and desperation. It goes on and on, becoming more psychotic, to the point where it isn't funny anymore, only disturbing. The humor and satire is long gone by the final scene of Cloey's comeuppance. There is only relief that the book is finally over, and that no one was -hopefully - harmed in the telling of the tale. ...more
This was an easygoing and light read, despite its serious subject matter. Even though Kimberly's situation is unique and fascinating, the narrative foThis was an easygoing and light read, despite its serious subject matter. Even though Kimberly's situation is unique and fascinating, the narrative follows a predictable development, and did not distinguish itself in any particular way. ...more
I'm surprised that this is a Goncourt prizewinner. It's not really a novel, or even a symbolic or poetic type of novel. In spite of the allegorical toI'm surprised that this is a Goncourt prizewinner. It's not really a novel, or even a symbolic or poetic type of novel. In spite of the allegorical tone (similar to Women Without Men by Shahrnush Parsipur from Iran), the narrative reads very much like a film/play script, with lines of poetry mixed in for variation. Point of view is almost absent. As one reads on, the rare qualifiers - when they do appear - stand out in their strangeness. Even as a third person narrative, there is an added degree of distance from the action, as if the narrator is giving stage directions for the benefit of someone else who will produce the play or film. One gets the sense that this is not the narrative per se - it's the directions for someone else's narration. The female character has a potentially complex narrative to share, but her voice is not as authentic as I would have liked it. Despite the intensity of her revelations, there seems to be an absence of humanity. It's difficult to feel compassion for her as an individual. Her monologue is overly theatrical, structured for maximum dramatic effect rather than for character development. The "war" taking place offstage occurs at strategically selected moments, whenever there needs to be a suspenseful pause in her story. The text itself seems to have been written not to be read in print (like a novel or short story) but as a manual for an oral recitation or a staged reenactment, with punctuation determining the tone of the voice rather than the words themselves. I wonder how all those ellipses and exclamation marks survived the editorial/proofreading stage.
The metaphor of the unresponsive human body as a patience/confessional stone is not so original. The French writer Dominique Sigaud used it extensively in L'Hypothese Du Desert (English title Somewhere in a Desert), which as a symbolic novel/allegory of human suffering during wartime I found to be more to my liking....more
This was in a bag of books given to me recently. I did not read the whole thing, just spent about 10-15 minutes on the sofa skimming through, trying tThis was in a bag of books given to me recently. I did not read the whole thing, just spent about 10-15 minutes on the sofa skimming through, trying to decide whether it's more suitable to Bookcross it or to offer it on Bookmooch. It's easy to read, at 300 pages with large type the book is brief; also, there really is not much substance to the content. There is a lot of repetition. A few key concepts are introduced, and described in a rather simplistic language. Possibly because the author is not a native English speaker? It all sounds New Agey but with the esoteric terminology (mumbo-jumbo) kept to a minimum. Quite unlike most self-help & motivational writers/marketers out there. If you are, though, going to end up drinking some guru's Kool-Aid, Tolle's flavor seems pretty harmless, in comparison. At least he's not selling vitamins, potions and lotions along with his philosophy, or charging heftily for "seminars" where you learn how to walk over hot coals - not yet, as far as I know. Still, I'd rather read a Buddhism-lite book, for example something by Thich Nhat Hanh, rather than the Christianity-friendly Buddhism-for-dummies by Tolle.
Most disturbing concept that caught my attention (I only skimmed the book, there may be more): "When you realize that pain-bodies unconsciously seek more pain, that is to say, that they want something bad to happen, you will understand that many traffic accidents are caused by drivers whose pain-bodies are active at the time."
Corniest statement (the last sentence of the book): "A new species is arising on the planet. It is arising now, and you are it!"
I tried to read Eat, Pray, Love and did not get far into it before I gave up. The author is just too full of herself, and has a tendency to OrientalizI tried to read Eat, Pray, Love and did not get far into it before I gave up. The author is just too full of herself, and has a tendency to Orientalize that which is unfamiliar to her own culture and point of view. In Committed she does it again. This time, though, I read to the last page of the book. Mainly because I was curious to find out if she at any point was going to say anything of substance about the Department of Homeland Security bizarre imposition on her and her partner's freedom of movement. Not much insight into that. But also not much insight into marriage either. Most of the so-called research is highly selective, and often relies on pithy statements by literary figures or commentators rather than on any indepth historical facts or sociological data. She writes about marriage from a predominantly female point of view, even though in the book's opening she claims she is known for thinking & writing "like a man." We really don't get much about men's, or even specifically her husband-to-be's position, in all of this. We get a sense that Felipe the fiance is more pragmatic about the matter than she is, but she is as loathe to quote him extensively as she is to give us his real name, so we really don't learn much about his own opinions or motivations. She probably doesn't seem to understand how different their approach towards this common venture actually is. I had to restrain myself from wishing that the DHS would come up with something to deter them from marrying in the USA. The real test of commitment would be if the two of them could forge a life together anywhere. It's really puzzling to me that she ignores or makes light of the small yet not so insignificant strains and tensions while living together with Felipe in foreign lands as something topical rather than personal. ...more
This is a light but entertaining read, if one is willing to accept it as a farcical comedy, somewhat different in tone from the average British-AsianThis is a light but entertaining read, if one is willing to accept it as a farcical comedy, somewhat different in tone from the average British-Asian novel, or stereotypical chick-lit/romance.
Marina, the female protagonist of this novel is driven by her desires and needs; in this she is mischievous and totally unselfconscious. As a first-generation native British woman of Indian descent, her conduct is several notches beyond that of simply rebelling against the conservative Indian norms of her parents. She's a thoroughly modern woman, driven by her emotional & sexual desires; aspects of her identity which have nothing to do with the British-vs-Asian dilemma. She sets her eyes on The Guy, straight out of a Mills&Boon/Harlequin trashy romance, and she will try anything, from flaunting her female charms to Indian spells, to conquer her man. And it's all in good fun...
If she hasn't done so already, I would suggest that Nisha Minhas give erotica a try; this story is similar in tone and plot to some of the over-the-top humourous women's erotica I've read (Virginia Crowley's Longing for Toys and Lisette Ashton's Neighborhood Watch)....more
Jeena figures out that the only way to get out of a traditional Indian arranged marriage her parents try to force upon her, is to arrange a marriage hJeena figures out that the only way to get out of a traditional Indian arranged marriage her parents try to force upon her, is to arrange a marriage herself, specifically a sham marriage with her current boyfriend. This eventually placates her parents, but the greater Indian community doesn't take to the interracial union too well.
In contrast, sham husband Aaron isn't that concerned with Jeena's Asian background, or with the concept of faking a marriage. Jeena's just another attractive woman in a long list of casual relationships, and her Indian "otherness" doesn't figure prominently in the way he views her. Neither is he interested in rescuing her from a stifling conservative tradition. Rather, what makes him sympathetic to her appeal for help in this unorthodox union, is his understanding of her need to put on a false front. As we discover, he's not wholly unfamiliar to this tactic; he's got secret issues of his own that he's been trying to hide for a long time now....
Ironically, it's this which endears him to his "sham" in-laws, as Aaron finds the appropriate buttons to push, to convince Jeena's parents of his sincere feelings for & proper conduct towards their daughter. He's got just the right argument to prevent them from disowning her for choosing a husband outside of her caste/religion.
Another interesting thematic development is the contrast between Aaron's obsessive-compulsive interest in eastern traditions (Japanese martial arts, Chinese feng shui, meditation) versus Jeena's almost total disinterest in her family's Sikh culture and traditions. Contrary to her family's expectations, as an adult Jeena is not compliant. Nor is she confused or conflicted by her dual identity as a British-born-and-bred woman of Indian descent. She knows what she wants, and it's a completely (modern) female desire.
The scene where she resorts to using her physical charms to get herself out of a tight spot, after the self-defense moves Aaron has taught her prove (predictably) to be ineffectual, is highlight of this funny and somewhat wickedly daring romantic comedy. ...more
The story opens with the reading of the will, a scene full of irony and sarcasm that sets the tone for the rest of the book. Should the dead man's wilThe story opens with the reading of the will, a scene full of irony and sarcasm that sets the tone for the rest of the book. Should the dead man's will, or rather his memoirs, be taken at face value? Layers of fact and hyperbole peel away, and gradually a more informed opinion of the title character is shaped. He is, to the end, truly a self-made man, in more ways than one. ...more
A captivating story of loss, longing and betrayal, skillfully blending the personal with the political, where petty rivalries are as momentous as ideoA captivating story of loss, longing and betrayal, skillfully blending the personal with the political, where petty rivalries are as momentous as ideological conflicts and cultural prejudices. Aliide and Zara as characters are portrayed with force and precision, multidimensional and with contradictory complexity. They will remain in my consciousness for some time to come. The story is written in a spare, yet detailed, manner, showing rather than telling, and leaving the conclusions to the reader. The narrative involves the reader in a material, sensate manner, rather than seeking an intellectual/logical response to the historical events it covers. I particularly appreciate this style; it doesn't preach a particular point of view, nor does it pre-judge its characters. Even though I am reading a translation, there are moments when the language, the specific word choices, give the text a poetic quality. The author alludes to historical facts through minute details in the characters' lives or their surroundings. By focusing on a tiny object - for example, an item of clothing, a crack in the floor, a fly hovering over a piece of meat, a particular odor, or a suppressed emotion trapped in a furtive gesture - the text quietly but forcefully conveys the emotional responses of the characters, most often a sense of entrapment and powerlessness. We can see, taste and smell every detail of Aliide's kitchen. We get to know her through the objects of her personal space, and the routines of her daily life - her herbs, preserves, mushroom teas, etc. The representational description of Aliide’s house and kitchen gives it a sense of verisimilitude, but at the same time there is a mythopoeitic quality to the narrative. The homely space where Zara has come to seek refuge from the ogres pursuing her is straight out of a fairy tale: The secluded cottage contains secrets and concealed dangers, hidden chambers, even a spinning wheel. Is Aliide the benevolent maternal figure or something more sinister? And what about the metaphysical connection between the frightened young girl and the old lady of the woods, for they speak and understand each other in an almost supernatural way? ...more