Friday 15 February 2013

Short post before a long weekend...

As we approach the Family Day weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to get my entry posted, as I am going to visit my family on Sunday, my usual posting day.

I read The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar last week.  This novel was recommended as a read-alike for Badami’s Tell It To The Trees, which I really enjoyed, so I was excited to read it.  It tells the story of two very different women in Bombay, Sera, a well-off widow and Bhima, her servant of many years.  Both women have daughters, and both are without husbands at the time the story takes place.  Despite their social and class differences, the novel reveals that their stories are very much alike, and makes clear the point that money can’t necessarily buy happiness, nor does it guarantee freedom from misfortune.  Because I was expecting this to be similar to Badami’s novel, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I probably could have done if I had no expectations about it.  It addressed issues of domestic abuse and class differences in modern India, which are definitely interesting to explore in literature.  It was well-written and the stories and characters were consistent throughout the novel, which included many recollections for both Sera and Bhima of earlier, though not necessarily happier, days.  Through no fault of its own, I found the book to be ultimately depressing, with one negative situation following another in a seemingly endless train.  I have to say, I wondered how these women kept on living when everything seemed so hopeless.  In the end, I could recommend this novel but I would warn the potential reader that it is very informative and well presented, but definitely not uplifting.

I also finished an audio book yesterday, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.  This novel, written in the 1940s, tells the story of an eccentric family, the Mortmains, living in a castle for which they have a 40-year lease.  The novel is narrated by Cassandra, the younger of two daughters, as she writes of events in her journal.  The family represents genteel poverty: the father is the author of one very famous novel, and the stepmother is a former artist’s model, but there is no money coming in and no financial prospects, save for the possible marriage of Rose, the beautiful elder daughter, preferably to someone rich.  When two American brothers appear on the scene as their new landlords, the plot becomes more complex as the sisters puzzle over these two very different characters.  A complicated love story ensues, which includes not only the sisters and the brothers, but also Stephen, the son of the Mortmain’s late cook, who continues to live at the castle and is in love with Cassandra.  Although this is a classic novel, I had never read it before, and was pleasantly surprised by how interesting it was.  I think, though, that it is the type of novel I would have preferred to read, not listen to, so I may take it up again at a later date and actually read it.  I didn’t really know what it was about when I downloaded the audio book, and it was totally unplanned that I would finish listening to it yesterday, which was Valentine’s Day, but it was entirely appropriate to listen to this love story on a day which celebrates love - the very last line of the book is, “I love you, I love you, I love you”.  Now, could anything be more fitting than that?

For my next audio book selection, I will either choose the first book in the “Leo Demidov” series by Tom Rob Smith, Child 44 (remember I just finished listening to Agent 6, the Russian KGB novel which was excellent), or I may choose to return to The Vault by Ruth Rendell.  If that is my choice, I will have to go back to the beginning, as too much time has passed for me to remember the parts I’ve already listened to.  I’ll decide today, as I’m going out and so will have an opportunity to start a new audio book soon.

I met a friend for tea last weekend and we got talking about books (surprise, surprise!).  She mentioned that she had also read Michael Robotham’s Say You’re Sorry.  She had enjoyed it and asked if I had anything else I could recommend, so I suggested that she start with Robotham’s first novel, The Suspect if she enjoyed his most recent novel.  Well, I needed something else to read so I took my own advice and am re-reading The Suspect even as I write.  Although I remember “whodunit”, the story is complex enough that I don’t remember all the details so it’s keeping me interested.  That’s why I love having so many books on my own personal bookshelf - I can pick up a favourite book at any given moment and know I will have a good reading experience.

That’s all for today.  Happy Family Day weekend!!

Bye for now!

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