For your reading pleasure

I’ve been wanting to write a book post for a while now, but the pile on my bedside table tempts me to read more instead of wasting that time writing. I can’t be selfish any longer though, so I shall share my last couple of reads with you.

One Day – David Nicholls

This one reminded me of Love Story by Erich Segal(is there any other?). The witty dialogue being the least of the reasons. It’s far more contemporary and very Harry Met Sally too. Emma and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation and hook up. And then, because of a number of events, what should have been the perfect match, doesn’t happen. They stay in touch and there are moments when you want to slap one of them and tell them to get their act together. But it’s rather like real life in that sense. So many close shaves. So many moments where something beautiful could come of it, but one of them idiotically effs things up. I read it a second time over for the funny lines and promised myself I’d use them. But of course I’ve already forgotten them again.

The Mine – Arnab Ray

This one is not for the weak stomachs. I was hooked from the beginning and read through the night. I enjoy the Great Bong’s blog and his book lived up to it ( I liked the first book too, but not half as much as this). A mystery set in a secret mining facility in Rajasthan where the miners come up against very provocative carvings. A team of experts comes in to sort out the strange things that this discovery triggers and before you know it they start dying. One by one. Some of the scenes are disturbingly grotesque, but anything less wouldn’t shock. In parts I found the dialogue forced and stilted, but the rest of it held strong. A very thrilling read.

Hood – Emma Donoghue

I became a fan when I read Donoghue’s Room. So the moment I saw Hood, I picked it up without even reading the blurb. I’m glad I did. The story begins with a funeral. Penelope O’Grady’s lover, Cara is dead in a car crash. And the rest of the book reconstructs their love affair. I found the name rather tongue in cheek and well thought of. I have to admit that I have no trouble rattling off a post – it’s the title that I always struggle with and then carelessly fill up some rubbish, just to get it done with. So, getting back to the point – the name of the book itself speaks volumes about the author. I’ve heard it referred to as a ‘lesbian’ love story, but it’s not. It’s just a love story, that happens to be about two women. And it’s been treated as such. Over the next few weeks, as Pen deals with the past and her grief, a lot more comes to light. Donoghue’s writing is compelling but the plot isn’t particularly absorbing. You already know what the story is, but the past slowly opens up to you and lets you in to their little secrets, humiliations and love. I’d suggest you read this on vacation and not while you’re busy with everyday life and likely to put it down and forget it.

A Spot of Bother – Mark Haddon

If you’ve read and enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time, then you will love this. Fifty seven year old George is convinced he is dying of something. This is bad timing because his daughter is getting remarried. His son is gay and wants to bring his partner to the wedding, and that makes him uncomfortable. And his wife is busy having an affair with his colleague. Very bad timing indeed. Family melodrama that is wry, witty and warm. Haddon needs no recommendation from one as insignificant as me, but if you haven’t read him before, this is your chance to see how a really good writer pulls it together. It’s a slice out of any of our lives. We ache, we die, we live, we breathe and we wonder why the world didn’t stop and acknowledge us. This is the story of just yet another life.

Alice Walker – The Colour Purple

This is a Pulitzer Prize winner and told through one of the age old story telling techniques of writing letters. Celie is a young black girl raped by her father and finally married off to a man who already has children. Her sister Nettie, the only port in a storm, is lost to her. The book depressed me because it seemed like Celie just didn’t get a break. I read on, stolidly, chapter after chapter, waiting for her to be saved. And she was. But only after I’d felt my sense of hope trampled upon. The language in the letters Celie writes is authentic but that just made it slow reading for me as I struggled to make sense of her grammar. Petulantly I wished the same story could have been told in plain old English. Yes, I have my bad days. A story about a survivor. A story that could have been written about a woman anywhere in our country. Heart breaking.

Island Beneath the Sea – Isabel Allende

Now if I had to pick one novel out of this list as my favourite, it would be this one. Set in the 18th century, it takes you into the world of slaves and masters, brutality and terror, threat and discrimination. This book took me back to my childhood and my grandmother singing us to sleep with Way down upon the Swanee river. It reminded me once again, that the entire world owes a debt to the people of colour. Each line, each chapter, drives a nail into the heart. Slavery, illegitimate children, women being misused. It is one horror after the other. And yet Allende is the kind of writer that transports you to 1770 in the blink of an eye and into a world that is so real, her writing so visceral, that you feel the heat, the blinding sun under which they slave and the frisson of terror as they try to getaway. I often complain about the kind of writing Indian publishers seem to be encouraging, because this is the sort of book that I wish more people would aspire to write. There is so little we know of the past, of the atrocities, of the lives these people led. Not only is the period she chose compelling, but the way she writes of relationships – so complex, so hard to define, so layered. I’m tempted to buy 30 copies and walk around distributing to them to some of the recent desi authors I’ve read, telling them – THIS is how you write.

The Help – Kathryn Stockett

I read this after The Colour Purple and Island Beneath the Sun. I was just in that space and I couldn’t stop. I’m wondering if it was a good idea because by the time I emerged from this, I was a wreck and burdened with an inexplicable guilt. Guilt for the privileged life I lead and for never knowing their suffering. Apparently sending me on a guilt trip is easier than slipping on a bar of soap. Aibileen is the coloured househelp. And Miss Skeeter is a young journalist who wants to make a difference. Set in the cotton plantations of America in the 1960s, Miss Skeeter and Aibileen, are both crossing lines of class and race, and exposing themselves to untold danger. From not allowing the help to use the same bathroom (something we Indians are very familiar with) to not allowing them to sit at the dining table (sound familiar?) there are many confusing things that little 2 year old white Mae Mobley doesn’t understand. Put that way, you begin to question our own Indian househelp systems. Told in different voices, sometimes Miss Skeeter, sometimes the help, this was yet another book I read through the night. Loved. Now readers, what do you think Β – should I risk seeing the movie and ruining the book experience?

Two Fates – Judy Balan

I’m unhappy about putting this on my list here, because I don’t recommend this book at all. To me it exemplifies a lot of what is wrong with publishing today. I’d read a few of Judy Balan’s pieces in the Brunch (was it?) and I enjoyed her writing. So when I got the book I picked it up eagerly. I have to say my first disappointment was in realising it took off from Chetan Bhagat’s Two States. I almost shut it right there and then. A promising writer and then she goes and picks Chetan Bhagat’s rather stale topic. And I call it stale because he did nothing new with the book. My father is Tamilian and my mother part Bengali, part Garhwali and part lots of other stuff. And I am 33 years old. If inter-community marriages were taking place a century ago, I have no interest in reading about them today. Particularly if the writing is not particularly compelling – what is left to recommend it? If you’re not saying anything new, at least say it in an interesting way. Anyway, I began to read Two Fates and lost interest after the first two chapters, the language just didn’t hold up to scrutiny and neither did the plot. In fact, if you want I’ll give you my copy. I’m feeling rather sad because I really enjoyed her articles (and then her blog that I hunted down). I stand by my original hypothesis, which is, that not every blogger should be considered a writer. And not everyone who has a good idea for a post can hold that thought through an entire book, along with your interest.

The Eighth Guest and other Muzaffar Jung mysteries – Madhulika Liddle

I read Madhulika Liddle’s The Englishman’s Cameo and was hooked. I almost cried when the book ended. Set in the Delhi of Shahjahan’s time, the book had every ingredient I needed. My favourite city, historical fiction and a murder mystery. It’s almost as though she made me put down a list and state what I’d love to read about and then incorporated each one into her story. Here’s an Indian writer who doesn’t write stilted conversations and whose English fits like a glove. Perhaps my problem with a lot of Indian writing in English on contemporary situations, is that the language is trying too hard to be hip and cool, too stylistic, trying so hard, that they fail. I’ve never been a short story fan but I hastily clicked buy on Flipkart because I was ready to have nobleman Muzaffar Jung back in any form. I didn’t regret a rupee of the Rs 350 I spent on it. The stories are short and snippy and the period ambience maintained. I love the descriptions of the elephant fights, the jewellery and the clothing – it all comes alive. But my favourite bits are the references to history in the author’s footnotes. Just right to educate someone like me who has no background in the subject and is eager to learn. I wonder if she deliberately keeps away from forming Jung’s character further. Perhaps the idea is to keep the focus on the mysteries and not him?

Β How to Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran

“Put your hand in your pants. (a) Do you have a vagina and (b) Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said yes to both, then congratulations! You’re a feminist.” This line defined the book for me. It’s funny, it’s contemporary feminism and it’s real. She articulates thoughts that have always floated around at the back of one’s head. Niggling and nebulous, like that annoying bit of raw albumen on your fried egg. Caitlin’s book is the one I plan to keep at my bedside and open whenever I doubt myself. Two days ago, it was a hot summer morning, and we were going out someplace. The OA was in shorts and tee, as were the kids. I was just about to wear a short skirt and sleeveless top when I realised my arms were looking flabby, my underarms were not done and neither were my legs. Now I’m not really the sort who stays waxed and polished, but in my defence, I was PMSing, my back was aching, my bad knee was pulsating with pain and I was sweating barely 10 seconds post bath. I lost my temper and got back into bed. It felt like an unfair world where he could walk out with his hairy legs but I must suffer sleeves and full length pants for no fault of my own and definitely a smoother chest than his! Anyway, I digress. The point is, I remembered Moran’s book and the next day I went out in a sleeveless kurta without doing my underarms. I was in no mood to suffer heat, periods and hot wax being poured on my skin. And that, my dear friends, is that. She is that brave, confident, cool, clever, witty girl in college, who everyone wants to be but is too scared to be. And in her absence, we’ll use her book for support. It also answers a million existential questions like, why are women supposed to use botox and get brazilians? Why do people ask a woman when she is going to have a baby and not a man? And much more. This is not my book of the year. It’s the book that is going to sit on my bedside table for many years.

Not Without My Daughter – Betty Mahmoody

Marrying into a community that you know nothing of, and falling in love with a man whose family you have never met, is a leap of faith. The reason this book resonated with me is because the fact that this could have been my life. I married a man whose family I had never met, a very conservative community. Of course this is not 1984 and I am not stuck in Iran, in purdah, but I think you see where I am going with this. I can’t imagine the terror of marrying a nice, sophisticated, urbane, cultured, educated, warm man and then watching him head back to his country and family and turn into some sort of brutish, neanderthal. Betty Mahmoody goes visiting her husband’s family in Iran and once there, realises there is no going back. Her husband lost his job in America and didn’t tell her that he was moving back home permanently. He soon becomes violent with her and eventually she is held hostage, and her four year old daughter taken away from her. She doesn’t give up and eventually finds a way to escape. The only catch, those who are willing to help, are not willing to take a child along. Unwilling to leave her child, Betty starts her hunt from scratch, determined that she will not leave her child behind. In many ways this reminded me of Emma Donoghue’s Room. A mother’s determination to not let her child down. A few days ago I wished mothers on FB a happy mother’s day, saying there is nothing quite like it. A single friend asked me if that made all non-mothers, losers. I was shocked by the question. No, it doesn’t. But I don’t know of any other bond so strong, so ready to sacrifice, so determined, so courageous. Everytime I read a book like this, I realise how deep a mother’s love for a child can be. Thankfully, not all of us are tested this way.

Balancing Act – Meera Godbole Krishnamurthy

I’m ashamed of how late this review comes, considering how long ago I read and loved this book. Tara Mistri is a modern mother, a SAHM who was once an architect. I loved her for the realism with which her character was portrayed. The frustration of knowing that you’d be good if you went back to work, the husband who is always travelling, the two kids who are adorable yet tiring, as all kids are, and the alter ego that reminds her of what she is, deep inside. Soon she begins to work out the kinks in her life by baking bricks with words on them – womb- nursemaid- housewife, and leaving them in public spaces, for the world to find them. I love that bit of quirk. Her way of reaching out to communicate with the world and work out the battle within. All you mothers must read it. Non-mothers too, if not for anything else but the lyrical writing, unlike the stilted English we’re subjected to by many other Indian authors. Not for a moment do you feel that this is not the author’s first language. Each chapter is introduced by a quote and I loved her choice of lines.

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59 thoughts on “For your reading pleasure

  1. I love your review of One Fine Day because I really loathed that book. I can definitely see now where people would like it though and you’re right – there were a ton of close calls where one of them would eff something up and that is TOTALLY real life.

  2. Awesome awesome post! Loved your reviews. I’ve already read a few from this list….regarding The Help…the movie was awesome. Ofcourse the book is better coz it has the complete story, but in my opinion, the movie does justice to that story…and the perfomances are wow.

    One Fine Day is also a decent movie :).

    I mostly read non-fiction…currently reading Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom – loving every bit of it so far :).

  3. I absolutely loved ‘One day’. I watched the movie too and it wasn’t bad. I watched ‘The Help’ and found it emotionally manipulative. Friends who’ve read the book and watched the movie say the movie doesn’t hold a candle to the book. Moran is on my list. Waiting for July to read her πŸ™‚

  4. All scattered thoughts:
    1. I feel like I’ve read many of these but cannot be sure. Even The Colour Purple. What is wrong with me? I had to struggle to remember the end of One Fine Day.
    2. Is ‘Hood’ like ‘Room’? I want to read it but not if it’s like Room in any way. I have not read Room because it would make me too sad.
    3. Same reason I have not read Not Without My Daughter. I am chicken about my emotions these days.
    4. I watched The Help (but haven’t read it but now want to). It falls just a teeny bit into cliched territory in the manner of these kinds of movies but overall I liked it. I think you will too. Also, I came away with the same guilt – about my help in Hong Kong, and more so about the help in India, where such things as separate toilets are de rigeur. I pointed this out my mom but she didn’t really get me.
    5. I agree on Two Fates. I have a sneaking suspicion if I wrote a book it’s going to be in the same disappointing category but I feel the need to write it anyway. Maybe I’m not that great a blogger so people won’t have any expectations.
    6. Have you read any of the other Allende’s (House of Spirits etc.) Is this one like those in the magical realism style? If yes, want to read, If not, want to avoid foor same reason as 3.
    6. Madhulika Liddle and How to Be a Woman are going on my list. Thanks!

    • Mine are also scattered thoughts only. I refuse to reivew as books are meant to be reviewed. I think people like us read too many books too fast. Often I have to stop and ask myself how it ended. Hood is nothing like Room. Neither the subject nor the writing. That is what I find so impressive. Here most people are writing their own life or blog story with a slight deviation and there these women lift a topic out of another era or another life that they shouldn’t have known too much about. Fascinating. As most of us who write even a little bit know, this isn’t easy. Its so much easier to sit down and start pouring out your lifestory, as I do on this blog.
      I read NWMD because its a reminder that what I do for my kids is not half as much as others have done for theirs. That I should do it, and do it with a smile and more.
      And please, I beg of you, please, don’t write a book if you’re not planning on something dazzling. I personally feel its better to be a good and engaging blogger than a mediocre writer. I think you know I mean this in the best possible way. Its why I’ve not written either. I don’t think I could live with seeing my name on a book where I’ve written exactly what I write here, with new names.
      I haven’t read any of Allende’s other books but I will now. Yes, it is magical realism.
      Two good picks there – I can guarantee you will enjoy them.

  5. A lovely list. I enjoyed reading some reviews by you after a long time, something that always gives pleasure. Love your take on them.

    Some of these, like ‘Hood,’ ‘A spot of bother,’ and ‘The Help’ have been on my wish list for long. Have loved ‘A curious incident…’, and have been eyeing these books at stores and resisting them because of the long list at home that I yet have to work through.

    ‘Not without my daughter’ was a spine-chilling read. It created an interest in finding out more about the middle-eastern and other predominantly islamic countries, and have read many eye-opening books. Made me wonder which era this has been written about. Puts your own troubles in perspective.

    ‘The color purple’ is that rare book which has stumped me. I too, couldn’t get past the first few chapters on account of the unfamiliar dialect. Picked it up a few ties, but haven’t persevered. Should try it again.

    ‘How to be a woman’ – very coincidently, a friend from my complex put this book in my hands just yesterday. We were discussing some recent reads of ours, and I mentioned Dorothy L Sayers’s ‘Are women human?’. She told me she had recently read Moran’s book issued out from her library, and I must read it. So I have it here before me, and I’ve already been through chapter one- the worst birthday ever- and am looking forward to it.

    ‘Balancing act’ sounds interesting, especially for someone who has shelved her profession to be an SAHM.

    • Sandy, you will love How to be a woman, because it makes me want to change things before my daughter gets there. Starting with unwaxed underarms and sleeveless tops. I mean what the hell – do I have to be plucked and polished everytime I want to step out of the house when a man just gets to sail out? I have kept it on my bedside table and refer to it everytime one of those women who tend to make you feel less for being a woman, say something.

      I struggled with the colour purple because I didn’t want it to be yet another half read book lying in a corner. I’ve done that too often. Began to feel like a failure!

  6. Must pipe in to say Iv been reading Judy Balans blog for a while now (even before the book became all the rage), and eagerly bought the book (not knowing it was a parody of 2 states — yes Im daft like that). And it didnt hold me past the first few pages, for all the same reasons you’ve listed. I have people tell me that I should consider writing a book, and though its very flattering, my only response to each one of them is, its one thing writing a quickie post, and quite another thing trying to hold a compelling story for a few hundred pages. Far too many bloggers turned writers have diluted this space. That said, I still read Judy’s blog, and find it funny, honest and completely relatable. But of late, I’ve found her column material slightly glib and forced and that really confirms my theory about something being honest and fun for as long as you’re doing it for fun. The minute it becomes youre job, it just isnt the same.

    • Bingo. Which is why I’ve turned down countless offers to blog for the two major papers, and what not. I just refuse to let anyone demand a column a day and have me sit here counting the words etc. I have my job for that. The mad momma is my space to do what I want, without commercial pressures. And yes, I get so many people saying, write a book, and flattering though it is, I can’t see myself writing a book that struggles to be mediocre, which is what I find a lot of the current crop are. Just an autobiographical account with new names.

      • I think everybody should do what they love. If you’re paid for it, good for you. Else we’d have no Doctors/prof photographers/writers/musicians/artists/entrepreneurs etc. In this sick society, when one does get an opportunity to at least earn by doing what they love, they are naturally at a better position to deal with life’s challenges. For the rest of the ‘I hate my job’ type, we deserve it. Let us promote Skill over peer pressure. If you’re paid for one of your many skills, why not?!

        • That is, assuming they have some skill, no?! Once upon a time, it was tough to get published. And that forced writers to polish and re-write until they actually had a gem of a novel that could not be turned down.
          It’s all very well to do what you love, but there is also an end consumer who you are responsible to. I’d not appreciate a rubbish cook setting up a restaurant and feeding us tasteless food. I’d definitely warn my friends not to eat there if I ended up wasting money on it.
          As readers we have a right to critique the books that the publishing industry is turning out – after all we are the people they are writing it for, no? Its not like they write a rubbish book and keep it in their cupboards. We’re paying good money for it – we have a right to demand well written books. This is my grouse with the publishers – what standards are you promoting? Who is it that you’re catering to when you churn out such rubbish? Why are these books on the front rack while better written books languish in a forgotten corner? Now sab kuch chalta hai!
          To say nothing of the fact that the bar is continuously dropped until the standard is so low that a 15 year old can write some rubbish and get it published.
          Don’t these writers want to aspire to good writing? Don’t they want their book to be a classic that people come back to?
          Most of these bad writers have at least a passing acquaintance with good literature. So how then do they write such junk and expect people of their own ilk to buy them? Of course if you’re targeting the Chetan Bhagat readership then I can only wish you higher standards.

          • I agree with every bit of your words, but even an Orhan Pamuk has bad days. He knows he can write hence he writes & that’s a skill realised. It is impossible for someone who does something with love to do it half-hearted.
            Also we should thank CB for letting us know what not to read πŸ™‚

            • I’m happy to countenance your bad days. Not entirely bad books. These books are banal. The conversations poorly written and boring, the topics mundane. So I’m still not sure of your point. Are you asking us not to criticise poor writers? Because anything we buy, as consumers, we have a right to critique. We have a right to ask for better service/products if we’re unsatisfied. Clearly our criticism isn’t keeping them off the racks. But we can warn people with similar taste so that they don’t waste their money. And we can keep giving feedback and hopefully publishers will have some mercy on us and stop feeding us crap.

  7. Just finished ‘The Help’. Couldn’t keep it down and didn’t want it to end either. ‘How to be a woman’ seems to be something that I need in my life at this moment, thanks for the list.

    • You must. Its a book I’m going to suggest to every woman. It questions every single stereotype. And makes such valid points – how are we to rule the boardroom if we’re in tight skirts over thongs and in high heels that pinch. 9 times out of 10 we’re not even physically comfortable. You know, my complex is full of these Bangladeshi maids who cycle from home to home. I see one of them fall down every damn day because they’re doing it in sarees that get stuck in the cycle. Its so bloody unfair. Everywhere you look, you see how women are suffering because of some completely asinine rule.

      • Ha ha ha …loved that “tight skirts over thongs and in high heels that pinch”. I am the absolute opposite. comfort comes first πŸ™‚
        Getting my cope of ‘How to be a woman’ from flipkart today πŸ˜€

        • Exactly. I’m all for comfort too. But clothing for woman has always been made to obstruct her movement. Be it tight skirts, high heels, ghunghat, burkha, sarees, corsets, hooped skirts, bound feet …. And we’re told its with our best interests at heart. That we look better/are safer. All bollocks.

  8. I had read a couple of chapters of One Day and left it at that. Then I read some good reviews and picked up the book again. Like you said, it has a When Harry met Sally + Love Story hangover and yet, manages to hold good on its own. (I had to wrap the book in colored paper though, as it had a chick- litt-y pic from the movie, on its cover and I am nothing if not a hypocrite when it comes to showing off my chick- litt love :p)
    How to be a Woman is on my reading table and I have asked for the Isabel Allende book from the library. I want to read Hood and The Help, but like someone else mentioned, I don’t trust my emotions with books like these and I hate how much these books cause me to bawl!
    A Spot of Bother sounds exactly like what I want to read. Thengyoo, MM.

    • Forget about the bawling, Maia. Read the books because they take you to a time you’ve never been before and they tell you things you don’t know. And then you’re ashamed of not having known them.

  9. Thanks for the list MM. Ive read One day and A spot of bother from your list. And I’ve seen Help. I loved the way One Day was written but when Em died i thought it was such a waste that I was pissed with myself for reading the book. The banter between the two was very Love Storyish which is why I was shocked that the girl dies in the end. Thought they would atleast change that. the Help is a great movie with some stunning performances but now i want to read the book. Am sure it’ll be better. I read A spot of bother a long time back so I don’t really remember it. One author i read a lot these days is Jill Mansell. It’s very light and funny with some complicated romance thrown in. I love her style of writing. I also like Sandra Brown’s writing. Not the romantic ones but the thrillers. Envy was one good book by her. Anyway have made a note of your list, will try and read more of them.

  10. I am just commenting to say I’ve already read The Color Purple and Not Without My Daughter B-)

    I’ve been reading some fun stuff lately too, and mean to do a post like this where I quickly point them out. My boss sent me three awesome books lately (and a fourth that I didn’t like).

  11. Thanks for the reviews MM. “Not without my daughter” is the only book that I’ve read from your list. I just ordered Island Beneath the Sea based on your recommendation ( I think my literary taste matches yours – I have never been able to enjoy the Chetan Bhagath sorts)

  12. Wonderful! Thanks for your post MM…It comes at just the right time. I’m just done with studying for an exam and need some really good books to forget the disaster that it was. :p

  13. i read The Color Purple long ago, and don’t remember being conflicted about the book – I was deeply moved by the struggles the protagonist faces and how awful her life is; but I was also deeply annoyed by the language which made the book such a difficult read.

    I read Not Without My Daughter but I wasn’t very impressed by it. Her complete dismissal of another culture, when she first lands in Iran, was very annoying. She was very black and white in her portrayals, if I remember right. But as a real life story, its absolutely fascinating.

    I also read Two Fates. I loved Judy Balan’s writing – I stumble upon her blog sometime last year, and I couldn’t stop laughing. But Two Fates didn’t work for me. That made me very sad, because I thought she was a very witty, funny blogger, but that didn’t translate well into a book.

    I’m going to pick up How To Be a Woman. It’s totally what I need – I am constantly reminding myself that I don’t have to give in to these expectations of how I should look and be – and it always helps to have a book to inspire me and remind me of it.

    • Ramya, I wasn’t conflicted either – I just went nuts reading it too.
      I appreciated that Betty was honest about how she felt about the culture. Many might have tried to balance the view for the sake of her book, but I appreciated it. That said, I can only imagine how striking the difference between the culture of Iran and America would have been in 1984. And after the horror she’d gone through, I can see why she didnt look back at things charitably when she sat down to write the book. I would have done the same.

      • MM: I agree with you about Not Without My Daughter, though it’s been a while since I read it. As for the Color Purple, I found the language difficult at first, but once I got into it it didn’t bother me at all.

  14. Lovely post! It is always wonderful to get book recommendations from you. πŸ™‚ Haven’t read any of the books from this list, but all of them sound very different from my usual cup of tea. Will look these up.

    I think I would especially like to read Balancing Act. πŸ™‚

    BTW based upon your previous book recommendations, I have picked up Margaret Foster’s Lady’s Maid. Have read a bit of it, and am awed. It is a lovely book, and I have a feeling I am going to love it as it progresses. Thank you so much for the reco, MM.

    • This is one reason why I can’t buy e-books. I don’t know what to order and I don’t want to order from the same genre each time. I like browsing through a store, flipping through books and picking up something I’ve never even heard of.

  15. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been rereading some old books since some of the newer ones I picked up just disappointed – despite a well written blurb and some good reviews. These recommendations could not have come at a better time. I’m off to immerse myself in some good writing

    • Well that is the sad part. Most people have friends in media and its easy to ensure that you get good reviews. Its why I try not to review my friends’ books too (and that is tough with so many of them writing!). I myself tend to go easy on them and people who realise we are friends, are unsure as to whether the book is really good or just me being a pal.

  16. I fell in love with ‘The Help’, the writing is simple, straight-forward and hits to the heart. The characters are so well etched too. The movie while not as good as the book, is certainly worth watching, you will love Viola Davis’ Abileen. Didnt your heart go out to Mae Mo…mine did. I loved my 2 year old a little bit more the day I read about Mae Mo.

  17. Thank you for the list! I had sort of taken a step back from reading in the last year and have been wanting to get back into it of late. But I was not sure where to start. Now I have this list!! πŸ™‚

  18. “We ache, we die, we live, we breathe and we wonder why the world didn’t stop and acknowledge us.”
    Can I put this up as status msg on FB and link this post? Please :)?

  19. Yay , I recognized names from this list!
    And what I wanted to say have already been said but still… I didn’t understand why Emma had to die all of a sudden and didn’t see it coming( reminds me of the story? Joke? ‘ There once lived an old man and one day he died’ ) and I loved loved your line” We ache, we live, we die, we breathe and we wonder why the world didn’t stop and acknowledge us”

  20. Great post, MM! Have you read Indu Sundaresan? Her historical fiction about Jahangir and Mehrunissa had me hooked. It was great to be able to place the ruins of Agra and Delhi into context and imagine them when they were full of life and intrigue.

    I’d read Not Without My Daughter when I was 13 and had cried and rooted for her all through. But some years later when I read Reading Lolita in Tehran, I have looked back at Betty Mahmoody and wondered if some of the aspects of the book were evoked to just feed into a stereotypical image of Iran in America (dirty people, crowded cabs, no etiquette while eating, stinky toilets and so on). Reading about her struggle was painful and inspiring by turns but I’d have appreciated it more if it presented a more balanced view of the country. While one can completely empathise with her despair (17 years later, thinking about the passages that describe how her husband hit her still gives me the chills), the book sort of turned the entire country into the villain. Anyway, I should probably go back to the book to properly weigh in πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the recommendations!

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