Archive for February, 2011

Book 835 Laura Esquivel – Like Water for Chocolate

February 27, 2011

 

I read Like Water for Chocolate about  six years ago and I confess not being able to remember anything from it so I guess a re-read was long overdue.  Actually with the exception of the recipes I  was shocked to see how much I have forgotten.

The story takes place in Mexico , where Tita , the youngest daughter in an all female family is doomed never to marry due a family tradition.  As fortune will have it she meets the man of her dreams and falls into a depression as she cannot live with him. She drowns her sorrows by practicing her one talent, cooking and each recipe she creates carries her emotions to the person eating it. Soon she meets another man whom she respects and has to make a decision.  By the end of the novel things do work out but with a little twist.

As this is a magic realist novel a lot of bizarre things happen, there’s a mass vomiting, the most epic chicken fight ever and not mention ghosts and over the top sexual exploits. Usually in large doses this sort of thing is daunting but here it’s manageable and enchanting even.  If you’re a fan of the genre or a foodie then go ahead and try this one out. It’s a perfect little book to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon reading.

 

 

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Book 836 Jose Saramago – The History of the Siege of Lisbon

February 24, 2011

I have heard a lot about Saramago, I remember when I used to work in a bookstore, his novels used to literally fly off the shelves and I was always a bit curious to see what he’s about.  Well here we are!

Raimundo Silva is a lonely proof reader, one day in a fit of fancy he decides to insert a negation in a book about Lisbon’s 1147 siege that he is correcting. In a way by doing this he is altering history. He then hands the proof in.

Eventually his mistake is discovered, however instead of being reprimanded, his boss, Maria Sara asks him to rewrite Lisbon’s siege to his liking and in the process they fall in love with each other as this new history develops.

Despite his popularity I do not find Saramago an easy writer to digest, his sentences are long and unwieldy but his plot structure is so addictive that ou cannot help but read on in order to see what will happen next, plus the premise of history being manipulated is fantastic and the love sub plot is a sweet addition. I do admit though that at times I felt that the novel dragged but I did soldier on and I was satisfied.

I’m not going to say that this book is going to be a favourite of mine but I am definitely intrigued and there are two more Saramagos in the list so we’ll see how I fare with them.

Book 837 Janice Galloway – The Trick is to Keep breathing

February 15, 2011

 

When I first read the blurb to this book I secretly thought ‘Oh No, not another female – manic-depressive novel. I don’t mind them but really it’s not my favourite type of novel as it usually falls into clichés.

Woman is alone due to a lover/ relative dying/leaving her.

Woman starts to see her life turn into rubble.

Woman speculates on her past life and focuses on the little details.

Insanity pursues.

I don’t want to sound like a sexist or insensitive but there is a sort of formula.

The Trick…. does follow this sort of plotline but, thankfully the approach is much different.

Joy Stone’s marriage has disintegrated, her lover has died in a swimming accident and she has an on/off relationship with on of her ex students. Naturally depression sinks in, drives Joy insane and results in a short spell in a mental institution.

Joy eventually gets better and realises that the trick to existing is to like the very basic things of life.

Same old , same old,  right ? Here Galloway documents this madness with short paragraphs , drawings and magazine articles. Also the chronology is all messed up so you have to piece everything together so when reading The Trick…  is akin to playing some intense detective game. It’s also naggingly addictive as I wanted to see how Joy will cope with her situation.

With this novel Galloway has shown that you can take an age-old premise and give it an exciting makeover, which leads to a satisfying read.

Book 838 Sashi Tharoor – The Great Indian Novel

February 10, 2011

 

I have noticed that Indian political novels are not unlike a great jigsaw puzzle, that is each one I’ve read focuses on a certain era and in order to get a complete picture you have to go back in time and see how India’s turbulent political history has shaped up. Here’s what I mean :

Animal’s People and The White Tiger – post 911 India.

A Suitable Boy –  Post independence

A Fine Balance – Independence, Partition and Indira Gandhi

and now we’ve got The Great Indian Novel which fills in a lot of gaps .

Tharoor , like Rushdie uses allegory and stories to illustrate his point. However while Rushdie can go into complete flights of fancy, Tharoor is more mocking and after some surreal pieces, will always return to the crux of the matter.

The novel deals with Mahatma Gandhi’s rise to fame until Indira Gandhi’s 1980 victory. To give matters an even bigger twist there are lots of references (and even the book’s structure) to the Rig Vedas. The author also mocks colonial literature by creating punny chapter titles ( The Bungle Book , Passages through India).

Style wise its dazzling, Tharoor’s prose will ensnare from the first sentence and he’s also very humorous so you’ll chuckle quite a bit. As the satire goes I was amazed at how cleverly everything is executed and for the first time I had a very clear view of India’s history.

The one and only gripe I have here is that the book is out of print so you’ll have to go to abebooks in order to find it. Do so though as it’s a fantastic read.