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Friday, January 29, 2010

First Reviews ever! Georgette Heyer

You would know that I picked up a bonanza of Georgette Heyer books and I thought its now or never as its a genre I am comfortable with so I thought I'd do mini reviews on the lot I have finished.

Bath Tangle - This was a slightly different variation to the usual Regency theme which we associate with Ms. Heyer. The story of Lady Serena, Lord Rotherham and just to add a nice mix there is a step mother of Lady Serena who is young enough to be her just slightly older sister and who is very much loved and not the wicked stepmother at all. Sparks fly from the beginning to the end as Lady Serena's father has with (foresight) put her entire fortune to Lord Rotherham's control till she gets married. Lady Serena is not the typical mild, willing to accept anything female of her generation and the book shows a different type of female - almost militant, educated, forthwright, with definite views of her own. All ends well but not before much mayhem and the return of a first love which ends with a twist in the tale! Delightful ending.

The Quiet Gentleman - involved the seventh Earl of St. Erth who belies his very complacent attitude with an all pervasive knowledge of what is going on and where and who is upto tricks. A skirmish with his half brother adds to the spice, but the real villain of the piece is his cousin who professes very real family feelings tinged with envy that things should fall so easily into the seventh Earl's lap and tries to do away with him, pinning the blame on the hapless Martin (the half brother) who unfortunately seems to be everywhere he shouldnt be! The falling in love part is almost by the way in this book which makes it different. The romance is just a happening incidental to the main plot of family and brothers who find an affection for which other as well.

Charity Girl - The story involves Viscount Desford, an orphan being ill treated by her aunt and many cousins and a villainous grandfather who is keeping an eye on the main chance of attempting blackmail on the Viscount with an aim of not just getting his grand daughter married off well, but also getting some money into his greedy hands. Into this tangle comes Henrietta the Viscount's childhood friend who is his ally, his support and his love (though he hasnt realized it upto now). The story ends well for Charity who finds love with a neighbour of Henrietta's and respectability as well so important in Regency England and a love affair of ending happily ever after for Hetta and Viscount Desford.

As usual I loved the novels and am looking forward to finishing the balance as soon as possible. The language and syntax used may not be to everyone's taste but it is something that will grow on one. Each Georgette Heyer contains the elements of romance and innocence, honesty and strong values, chivalry and of course the villains, and this is what makes it perennially popular as these are values which we would like to be associated with.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Post elections and hopefully normalcy

Elections have finished and with it all the excitement that follows an election in Sri Lanka. I think this is quite commonplace in Asia though it may be a bit more subdued in other parts of the world. We have elected our President who is the same one we had before and lets hope that things can get back to being normal fast.

I know that I am not very political, not very interested in who is saying what and promising what but I do wish our enormous cabinet would be reduced, the development work that has been started will just continue and that peace could come to our country particularly in the North and East which has been so troubled. I also wish that the children in those areas can get back to their schooling fast because education has been a very highly valued commodity in that part of our country and the sooner they can get back to it the better.

With that in mind I have started a new project solely aimed at helping children in a little known area of Pooneryn. This area was very badly affected by the war and children there need help. My aim is to find sponsors for individual children who are needy and put them in touch with someone who cares for them. This is of course easier said than done. My communication with the children is by snail mail, not always reaching them because things are not still in place but we are always hopeful that it will improve. My project has got off to a good start with over eleven people whom I have written to saying they are interested in getting involved in some way. This is a good start. I dont hope for huge sponsorships but if I could help 50 children this year I will consider it more than adequate.

We have had a spate of holidays as well and even tomorrow is Poya day (a full moon day) which is sacred to Buddhists and is a monthly holiday. Yesterday was also a holiday and on the 26th hardly anyone turned up for work as it was election day. This is another thing which should be reduced (the holidays I mean) if we are to get productive at all. Even today things in most establishments are very slow as lots of people have taken a day off to avail themselves of almost a weeks holidays.

On the book side I have finished three Georgette Heyer books which I found to be very good and am in the middle of a Jean Plaidy. I hope I will be able to do a mini review of the Georgette Heyer books I have read upto now. I have not done a review at all on this blog so this will be a first for me.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Back to quilting and struck gold with books!

We are thankfully at the very end of the electioneering campaign and on the 26th with elections done, I do hope we can get back to normal life. Going on past history our elections are far from peaceful, dignified and quiet but we can always hope for a change for the better!

On a bookish note the Galle Literary Festival for 2010 starts on the 28th of January. I was so disappointed that this period was chosen because going on our past records I did not dare to buy tickets for any of the events which were planned and all of which sound very intersting. Guest writers (both expatriate Sri Lankan and others) address the various workshops which are organized so well but it was too risky for me as the event is being held about 3 hours away from where I live. If a curfew is declared it will not affect foreigners who are gathered for the event for locals will definitely have to be cautious.

On the book side again I struck gold. Last night on a whim I accompanied my husband to Wellawatte - he went to pick up some dinner and I hopped across to my favourite haunt - the second hand book store - Senanayake Book Depot. The owner took one look at me and disappeared and came back with eleven, yes eleven Georgette Heyer books. Most of them old, really old but I was delighted and all for the sum of Rs. 1100 equivalent to approximately 11 US $. By any standards an absolute bargain. This will see me fully occupied for the next two weeks. The owner of the shop says he doesnt know my name but when he sees me he knows what I want!!!! This particular shop will not put aside books for you or call you if anything comes in but frequent visits will do the trick and get you what you want.

On the quilting side, I have almost finished the hand quilting (the first round that is) of the log cabin blocks. Being this design I want to repeat the quilting around the blocks as well. At least now that I am doing it, I will finish it as soon as possible and find a way to send it to her for her birthday in April. Over the next week I also hope to start on a quilt for my son who is wondering when his quilt is going to get to him.

Cheers till I come back post elections!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Elections and Books

As I mentioned in my last post electioneering is going ahead and we are now nearing the end of the campaigning when elections will be held on the 26th of this month.
There is such a lot of rhetoric/cross talk/debates going on that one's mind wonders what these speakers would have done if there was no politics around. Accusations of every kind from the sublime to the ridiculous keep flying around and all of us listen to what is basically a load of rubbish!!!

On a bookish note I went to one of our premier book shops to utilize gift vouchers as well as some cash which I had put aside specifically for books. It has been a long time since I actually bought books - new I mean - I am a dab hand at finding second hand gems. It was extremely disappointing to see the very little choice I had. I went armed with lists - recommendations and reviews of books I have liked on the various book blogs which I frequent and which give excellent advice and recommendations. There was absolutely nothing available in Colombo on these lines. There is quite a lot of mystery/detective writing available at least there is a choice available, but in the other genres ranging from general fiction, to historical romance, from books set for example in the WW1 and WWII eras, not even a single P D James (generally popular in Sri Lanka)nothing in paranormal and fantasy (not that I like it much but still not available) , nothing in the Georgette Heyer line which I thought absurd and absolutely nothing on the lines of Sharon Lathan or any of the Jane Austen fan fiction type of books. I was feeling really let down - ended up with Jean Plaidy (two books which I havent read before). Was really glad that at least that was available and then trotted off to the man who is selling second hand books on the pavement beside the mall. Here I found some really good stuff - Sebastian Faulks Birdsong, Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist, a Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway which I grabbed and an old old Agatha Christie's Five Little Pigs. A good haul and lovely to look forward to over the weekend. The second hand books cost me the princely sum of Rs 350 whilst the two new books - the cost was Rs 2280! I think I'll just go to my used book sources after this.

We are today right now having a solar eclipse - its 2 in the afternoon and quite dark though Colombo is not in the direct path of this eclipse. Apart from that its quite hot and humid (as always).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Exciting times in Sri Lanka

My blog has been sorely neglected mainly because I am so interested in reading other people's blogs. The variety of blogs available is so mind boggling and the styles of writing are so interesting that its no wonder that my own gets left by the wayside.

We are in Sri Lanka in the midst of a Presidential Election - to be held on the 26th of January. There are two main contenders and quite a few minor stars! Elections in Sri Lanka and I think this goes for Asia in general are very colorful affairs. The whole nation does get involved and it is very loud, very in your face and there is no gentility or quietness in anything that surrounds an election. We have election campaigning going from the door to door type where printed material (the month being January also calendars with the appropriate star being printed on it!) alongside details of their manifesto, and what they hope to achieve should you vote for them. This is all very gratifying because upto "rice from the moon" will be promised without fail. The money that is spent is of course mind boggling for a very poor country like ours and apart from this, there are huge, huge cut outs and banners stretched across every street (with protests always from the opposite side that this is not allowed legally in this country but who cares for this) and then the latest has been the spate of sms messages via mobile phones going to every single mobile phone user in this country (12 million and counting). I can in my one sided view only see the waste of funds of whoever is spending - never mind who - but I am just a very small cog in a very big wheel. I just think of all the projects that could be completed - minor irrigation tanks in areas crying out for water, provision of teachers for subjects like Mathematics and Science and English in rural areas where teachers refuse to go because of the lack of basic amenities, the rural hospitals where doctors try to manage the best way they could and do herculean tasks with no equipment. I of course could go on and on but this is futile. We just do the best we can.

In the meantime I have started in a very small way a project to help students in an area which has been heavily affected by the past war to try to come back into a mainstream form of life by attending school and just getting on with it. Education is one way out of the mess our children have got into and maybe if we can help a few dozen that could be a start of a new life for some at least. The area at the moment has got the two state banks operating in it, and though everything is destroyed - land flattened, agricultural lands totally destroyed, local villagers are trickling back to their homes and these are the people who should be helped out.

Books have not been neglected and I was lucky to get book vouchers for Christmas! at last people are listening to me!!!! so this month will see me buying a few books but the choice is so huge that its a tough call. I have also been reading books from my to be read pile and these have also been very good. A first time read for me was Dylan Thomas mystery/murder which was very good and William Dalrymple's Nine Lives which lived upto all its expectations. Dalrymple an authority on India brings to his books an authenticity and a warmth which is hard to beat. Love his books and just wait for him to publish another.

I am also part of the South Asian authors reading challenge and want to seriously get going on this. I think Dalrymple may not fall into this category but it was a wonderful read. For anyone interested in not just India, but different ways of living, looking at life, please go read this book.

Quilting is still on the back burner. By next week I have to get into it. My daughter leaves us for Melbourne on Wednesday and then its just the two of us once again. She is the flamboyant one for whom the red quilt is being done but it will have to wait for her next visit to be taken by her back to her other home in Melbourne.

Till the next time.