Posted in Books

Book Review: Wise Enough To Be Foolish, by Gauri Jayaram

About the author:
Gauri Jayaram is a mother of two girls, amateur athlete and a part-time writer. She is also a management school drop-out, traveller, entrepreneur, and in full time employment with the world’s largest escorted touring company. She is a little bit of many things, and still not satisfied. This book is her debut offering. Continue reading “Book Review: Wise Enough To Be Foolish, by Gauri Jayaram”

Posted in Books

Book Review: Chokher Bali, by Rabindranath Tagore

About the author:
Rabindranath Tagore is possibly the most famous poet to come from India. For his beautiful, profound and sensitive verses, which expressed his poetic thought, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

My thoughts:
There are some stories that have you hooked by the characters, the setting of the novel and the simplicity of the language. These books, I feel, are very rare. One such book I came across was written by one of my favorite poets, one of the greatest writers and one who is well respected around the world. Rabindranath Tagore is known more for his soul stirring verses perhaps than his novels, but a book by him still appealed to me and it was as good as poetry in prose.

Chokher Bali is not a story that all would love. It doesn’t flow quickly, and neither can it be finished in one day. It’s a family drama, set in the time when families were more orthodox than they are now. It speaks of traditions and superstitions. It is the story of the young widow Binodini, who follows the customs by returning to her village to live there for a couple of months after her husband’s death, yet accepts the invite into the house of Rajlakshmi, who lives with her son Mahendra and his wife, the young and naive Ashalata. The story is about the intricacies of emotions like love, passion and desire. Not just the love of Mahendra for Ashalata, but of Mahendra’s love for his mother, his mother’s affection for Binodini, Bihari babu’s deep friendship with Mahendra, the odd friendship formed between Ashalata and Binodini and a lot other inset emotions. But most of all its of that love of Mahendra towards Binodini, who he thinks is more a match for him than Ashalata.

The story weaves in and out of the lives of these characters with consummate ease, stitching culture and love together. Tagore creates deep characters and tells more with simple words better than any writer I know of. He takes us back to the time of British India flawlessly. If I knew to read Bengali, I would read the original. There’s always something different in a translation. I’ve to read some of his other works now, prose ones I mean. It’s beautiful to have a story speak to you.


Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book Details:
Title: Chokher Bali
Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Translated by: Radha Chakravarty
ISBN: 9788184003048
Genre: Fiction/Drama
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR 299

 


This book was given to me for review by Random House India. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(Oct 6th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: House of Cards, by Sudha Murty

About the author:
Sudha Murty was born in 1950 in Shiggaon in north Karnataka. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, she has written nine novels, four technical books, three travelogues, one collection of short stories, three collections of non-fiction pieces and two books for children. Her books have been translated into all the major Indian languages and have sold over three lakh copies around the country. She was the recipient of the R.K. Narayan’s Award for Literature and the Padma Shri in 2006.

Cover and blurb:
Simple cover with the photo of a girl, as is with most of her novels I guess. I liked the blurb, and it promised a family tale, one that is common in India perhaps, but mostly remains a story untold.

My thoughts:
I’ve become a fan of this author of late. This is the third book of hers that I’ve read in the past two weeks and the fourth in this year. When I read Sudha, it is like simplicity takes the wheel, and everything else takes the back seat.

House of Cards brings a small family drama to the fore, with the simplicity of village life clashing with the city life. We are introduced to Mridula, a young studious hardworking girl, daughter of Bheemanna, who is a very rich person in Aladahalli, a small village near the towns of Hubli and Dharwad, in Karnataka. She’s the apple of her father’s eye, and a very jovial girl. She enjoys her life, and is always brimming with energy. Years pass by and Mridula grows up into a beautiful young lady, and talk of marriage starts. We are then introduced to Sanjay, a talented, but poor doctor, who works in Mumbai. He’s a little careless and forgetful, easily influenced. The two meet at a wedding, and then again cross paths when Sanjay has to deliver a package to Bheemanna’s neighbor, and spends a little time at his place while that neighbor is away. They soon fall in love, and get married. The couple shift to the city of Bangalore, where he pursues his post graduation, and she takes up a teaching job in a government school. Things appear to go smoothly, till he takes up private practice after getting tired of the job at a government hospital. The story is about their family life, and how they rise in status in the city, but begin to find differences in their relationship.

When it comes to tone and language of the reading, as I said before, Sudha keeps it simple. But in the plot, she explores relationships in depth. How Mridula stays the same hardworking innocent self throughout, how Sanjay is influenced by the power of luxury that he finds coming toward him and begins to want the best of the best, rather than what is necessary, and how their son Shishir realizes the value of family very late. It shows the love between daughter and father, in Mridula and Bheemanna; love between husband and wife, in Sanjay and Mridula; and a whole lot others. It is a light read, and I could finish it soon, but the story stays behind.

You can pick up the book for reading while traveling, because it is worth it, and it will hold you even after the story has ended.


A rating of 8/10
A rating of 8/10

Book details:
Title: House of Cards
Author: Sudha Murty
ISBN: 978-0-143-42036-1
Genre: Fiction / Drama
Publishers: Penguin Publications
Price: INR. 250

 


This book is a personal copy. No payment was taken for this review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with Indian Quills Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.


(Aug 7th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Complete/Convenient, by Ketan Bhagat

About the author:
Ketan Bhagat is an Indian author. He’s a creative person at heart and has done stints in television and print fields during his college days. This book is his debut novel.

Impressions from the cover:
Puts across the point the author is trying to make quite easily, with the Indian part shown near “Complete” and the Sydney part shown near “Convenient”. A lovely cover design, but the tagline wasn’t necessary.

Impressions from the blurb:
A narration of the thoughts of an NRI, newly married and arrived in Sydney. The story might invoke feelings of homesickness and love toward family etc.

My review:
Home is where the heart is. Yeah, the line’s a told and retold one, but I know it’s true. I haven’t gone far away from home, but I know people who have, and who have returned back as well. That’s the story of Kabir, the once reckless, carefree bachelor who finds out he’s been offered a posting in Sydney and goes over-the-moon on hearing it. Following that is a very short period in India, and for his single status, as his parents are convinced of his relationship with his girlfriend, he gets engaged and married quickly and reaches Sydney with his wife Myra. We’re taken on a tour of the city through the eyes of the couple, shown both the good things and the bad, love and confusion, an appeal for luxury and then the comforts of that unknown city. As expected, with the protagonist loving Sydney, we also see a lot of comparisons and such as to why Sydney life is better than Indian life. Our hardworking protagonist does what he needs to get his company from a little-known status to a well-known one, even if it meant missing out on important functions and getting his wife angry at him. With time he begins to realize where he belongs, and a sequence of events makes him decide to return.

This is a book you know the ending before you even read the preface. The cover just puts it there for you. Unless you are one who is hungry for money and wanting to get away from family maybe. What I liked in the story is the central idea, the one that wants to show the importance of family. There are some nice nuggets of wisdom thrown into the narration as well. The language is simple and to the point. There is light humor as well. It also showed the emotional side of a guy (but I still maintain that the tagline on the cover isn’t needed). To be honest, the first half of the book goes very tediously and I was tempted to put the book down after a hundred pages or so. Then it gets better and little quicker during the middle, and then super rushed toward the end with one thing on top of another leading to a dilemma and a solution almost instantaneously. Some details thrown in just at the end feel unwanted, feel the situation is overcooked before thrown out of the pan. Editing could have been better in a few places as well.

All in all, a decent read, and a one-time read at that.


Rated a 6/10
Rated a 6/10

Book Details:
Title: Complete/Convenient
Author: Ketan Bhagat
ISBN: 978-93-80349-92-3
Genre: Humor / Romance / Family Drama
Publishers: Srishti Publishers
Price: INR. 195

 


This book was given to me for review by Srishti Publications. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(June 25th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: The Hope Factory, by Lavanya Sankaran

About the author:
Lavanya Sankaran is an Indian writer who is the author of The Red Carpet, a collection of short stories that were at the top of Hachette’s bestseller charts for over two years. She supports the Indian Foundation for the Arts, and the New York Council for Humanities. She studied political science and philosophy at Bryn Mawr College and lives in Bangalore. This book is her debut novel.

Impressions from the cover:
I don’t get any, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
 

Thoughts on the blurb:
A story of two families, a middle-class one with an aura of riches around and a poor family who works for the first. So a common story between the two would be interesting, especially in the contrasting conditions.

My review:
So to give a gist, the story revolves around the family of Anand, who is a small businessman, the owner of a motor works factory. He is looking to expand his small factory and starts to look for land that he needs for the new factory. He is married, and has two kids. His wife, Vidya is a very whimsical person who must have what she wants, and is very prominent and actively involved in the social scene. Her father, Harry is a very influential person with well-known and much respected contacts in various fields, and Harry tries to help his son-in-law with his problem as well. On the other hand, we have Kamala, one of the three maids working for Vidya. Her problems are money-based as well. She wants to save money so her son can attend a good school and get a proper education, secure his (and their) future. Her son Narayan however skips school and hangs out with the neighborhood rowdy gang, but takes good influences too and works hard to earn some money for his mother and himself. Lavanya takes us on a journey through these two stories with this novel.

The Hope Factory, in my opinion, is a wonderful novel of character examination. We have these various people with whose characters we might identify. Anand, the boss who wants his company to progress and is quite well-off, but doesn’t want to show-off that wealth or be too active in social circles. However, he is street smart, kind and generous too. Vidya, who is as easily flattered as she is hurt, who has these sudden whims and fancies that she wishes others to understand, but when the fancies get her to trouble, passes them off on others. She is quick to talk and judge, and doesn’t admit she is wrong. Kamala, the hard-working single mother who saves all her money for the son’s future, and though she was born into wealth, her life had a wrong turn awaiting her. Shanta, who is arrogant and bossy, and though kind when shown kindness, she reverts back to her old character like a leopard that can’t change its spots. These are but small facets of few characters in the novel. If we examine them as we read, we see many similarities to people around us. Lavanya’s language is simple, and there’s no beating about the bush. This directness is beautiful and makes it easy for me to imagine it. It’s not an extremely moving tale, but it touches our heart. It’s a touch heavy, but just a whisker, nothing that we will take an eternity to finish.

Coming to what I feel might have made it a little better, I think firstly the blurb could have been on the back cover, since as a reader, that’s the first place I usually look. In the story, Kavika’s character becomes as good as a main character, though she is a small one. So I feel a proper ending could have been got there, especially as at the starting and towards the middle parts, there is an interesting buildup that involves her character. And I felt the ending stages was sort of rushed through as events began to zoom by. Editing wise, it’s quite well done. I could find maybe one misprint throughout but that fell away in the reading.

Overall, a really enjoyable read, though most of the events are expected than unpredictable. I definitely look forward to reading more of her work.


A rating of 8/10
A rating of 8/10

Book details:
Title: The Hope Factory
Author: Lavanya Sankaran
Genre: Fiction/Drama
ISBN: 978-0-7553-2787-4
Publishers: Hachette India
Price: INR. 550

 


This book was given to me for review by Hachette India. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


Shared with
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(June 5th, 2013)