Monday, August 3, 2015

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?



I am trying to keep up with the memes. Two weeks in a row seems good!

               



     




A very handsome mailbox! I've got different genres and this is what I really like. I am trying to step out of my comfort zone a wee bit and this mix is helping.

1



I am reading two books currently, something which I rarely do. One is The Road to Rangoon and the other is Rich Friends. The books couldn't be more dissimilar - one set in abject poverty and a rebellion in Myanmaar and the other set in California - a family saga of people who are rather rich!

We have had a long weekend with Friday off as well (Esala Full Moon Poya Day). It has been a lazy time for me. Caught up with friends, had several meals out, altogether a good time ready for the working week.



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Circling the Sun


This has to be one of the best books ever. A love triangle, history of a nation emerging and the brave, heroic story of a very young woman finding her way and trying to stand on her own two feet at a time when women were generally thought to be helpless and men seemed to like it that way.

Beryl is just seventeen - her father seems to have given her very little choice. Leaving their beloved home in Ngoro and joining them in a new venture or getting married to Jock a much older man. Someone with whom she has had very little conversation, no knowledge of. Even at this stage it looked a receipe for disaster. The marriage is foundering from its first day and you begin to realize that Jock himself has taken on someone whom he does not understand and is not willing to even try.
Beryl realises that she has to take care of herself and to this end does something unprecedented not just in Kenya but in the whole world. She becomes a horse trainer. This is something she has done her entire life, she understands the animal so very well and this she does successfully. It also spells the end of her marriage and the beginning of several romantic liaisons, none of them permanent and all of them spelling disappointment and sadness for Beryl.

Fast forward to Beryl's success as a horse trainer and to the jealousy that follows from women and men alike. Beryl has to face adversity and loss and even in her second marriage disaster follows disaster when she is forced to give up her baby son to a domineering mother in law and an ineffectual, helpless husband. The sole light in her life is her love for Dennis but this is always something that she has to share with Karen Bixen. Dennis cannot be tied down to any woman and Karen is never going to give up the tenuous hold she has on him.

The story is a fascinating memoir of an unusual woman of her time. She was actually way ahead of her time as she just wanted to be Beryl Markham. She did not want or need to be anyone else and this was something that made everyone around her uncomfortable.  The people she moved with were not conventional in the least but conformity to society's norms was very important for them and unfortunately Beryl did not fit into any one category. Her sins were not easily forgiven or forgotton by society and this ostracized her. It also made her realize how alone she was.

The story of Beryl is the main one but the history and beauty of Kenya forms such an integral part of the story and the two are intertwined throughout.

This was a beautifully written story and I  was so glad I got this book from Ballantine Books through Netgalley.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The County Guides - Death in Devon by Ian Samsom




I liked the names of towns and villages which rolled off this book. Dawlish, Sidmouth, Teignmouth, Beer to name just a few.

The setting is picturesque, the story quaint. We have main characters and the sub characters all of whom play a significant role in the story. Set in a public school in Devon we have on top of it all the best features, peculiar to English public boys schools.  It all adds to the atmosphere. What you get is definitely not run of the mill.

Devil worship, the occult, blackmail, pornography in this very innocuous English public school and Sefton and Morley have to set it right. One death which looks so much like an accident, veering off a cliff is so real, and then we have slaughter of a cow with the disappearance of many animals. None of which signify a murder but they do. Unravelling it is the story here.

If one likes a 1930s setting with the quiet Sefton, the eccentric Morley and his attractive daughter this is the book for you. The bonus is Devon.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Harper Collins UK.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?



I've not done these two memes for the entire month of July - didn't realise it had gone on for so long. Sometimes work - both domestic and office gets to be so much! and time just goes by so fast.

                   




                 Curricle & Chaise




                   


I think I've missed out on a couple here because it has been so long!




1





Reading this one. Delightful!











Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Waterloo Legacy by Francine Howarth



Wellington's victory at Waterloo brought relief to hundreds of families whose husbands, fathers and brothers would return once Napoleon was defeated. At Pennard Hall the situation was no different. Mothers, wives and sisters breathed a sigh of relief when one by one their loved ones returned home.

Things however are never what they seem and Pennard Hall had its fair share of secrets. Luke returned home before his brother Michael did and he came back to know that he had a son - Matthew who was his mirror image and how Isobel was going to confront Michael with this bit of news was another challenge. Luke and Michael's mother the Dowager had her own secret and that was going to affect not just the family but also Matthew's inheritance. It was a very tangled web and it was made worse by the discovery of Lydia in France - an illegitimate child by Michael. With Lydia's mother dying bringing the child back to England was the only choice but how they were going to explain Lydia to the world at large is a question they would all have to face.

The story of the family, the setting and background of the times made the book an interesting read. A family saga but the history of the story - with Wellington, Napoleon and the entire turbulent history of the time made it a very enjoyable read.



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last (Positron, #4)

Stan and Charmaine are homeless, live in a car, make do with tips, wash in public toilets and washrooms and are miserable. Stan is more than Charmaine who tries to see the positive rather than the negative. When a program offers them a chance to better their lives, live comfortably and is certainly a step up from what they have now, they grab it.

What ensues is not exactly what they envisioned.  Thrown into a society where you do exactly as you are told or else, both Stan and Charmaine comply with all the demands and end up in a situation which is frightening and certainly traumatic.

The scientific experiments carried out at Consilience are just that - experiments - and if they do go wrong which they do, then Stan and Charmaine are both doomed.

Atwood makes the unimaginable perfectly comprehensible and that is the frightening bit. She takes hitherto unimagined scenarios and makes it perfectly plausible. It can happen, it hasn't upto now but that does not make it impossible! it can.

Described as wickedly funny, I wouldn't put it quite like that. It opens one's eyes to a very real, happening. Thats' clever.

Sent to me by Edelweiss.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Meeting by Chance and 6.41 (Short reviews on chance encounters!)



A short simple story, with a happy ending. Danielle looks after an aged aunt. A discovery of a letter hidden in a book leads to unexpected meetings and eventual happiness for Danielle who did not expect major changes in her life at 59.


This was a recommendation on FB and a free download from Amazon.


6.41


A translation from the French, another short story. Described as a psychological thriller.
For me a more matter of fact story of Cecile returning from a visit to her family. Always tired after one of these trips, Cecile is also introspective on the return trip of why, how and what ifs. Meeting up with an old flame in the same compartment, someone whom she had a affair with a humiliating end is not something she wants to even think about.
But there is he, large as life, silent and not even acknowledging her existence right across from her.  The entire journey is a rehash of Cecile's life and not all of it pleasant.


This was a download from Edelweiss.

Both books coincidentally dealt with chance encounters (of different kinds).