Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Pride And Prejudice Book Review

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Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

And these words from Mr. Darcy stole my heart once more.

My first re-read of 2017, in fact my first book of 2017 is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. No matter how many times I read it or at what age I read it, my love for this book is not faltered.
The characters, the setting, the drama continue to hold my attention as I flip through the pages of this book at different times in my life.
As for the characters, Mr Darcy was and is my favorite and undoubtedly will remain so. No man - mortal or fictional can compete with Mr. Darcy.
And I cannot help but imaging Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy - he is Mr. Darcy.

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The smile and the famous lake scene all came back to me while I re-read this story.

Though Northanger Abbey happens to be my favorite book from Jane Austen but Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy) makes Pride and Prejudice very close to my heart.

Picking up this book to begin 2017 was a good decision indeed as it made me start my new year with a smile.


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Monday, 14 November 2016

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood Book Review

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The Robber BrideThe Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally I read a book by Margaret Atwood!!
Atwood is so famous and so loved...I always heard people raving about her and yet it took me so long to read something from her. Her most famous book happens to be 'The Handmaid's Tale' which is a dystopian novel and I never read it because am not a very big fan of this genre(though I do enjoy few here and there). Whenever I heard Margaret Atwood, I heard 'The Handmaid's Tale' and since the latter was from my-not-so-favourite-genre, I kept pushing it aside, thus keeping myself deprived of the literary genius of Margaret Atwood.
Then I came to know of her other books and I decided to pick up any one and I zeroed down to 'The Robber Bride'.
This book! This book! Or rather this character Zenia! Zenia!
While reading this book, there were days when I woke up in the morning thinking about Zenia - why she does this? What can be the reason? Is she finally telling the truth? What will she do next?
Zenia is terrible woman and you would hate her for whatever she does. But, at the same time, she has this magnetic force that just draws you to her. I as a reader found her irresistable so I can totally understand what the characters felt.The more you find about her in the book, the more you hate her but there remains a part inside you that wants to trust her. It is just something about her that maintains a hold on you and on the characters in this book.

Three friends - Tony, Charis, and Roz - all have their lives turned upside down by single woman, Zenia. When they think the worst is over, that Zenia is now dead - she returns.

Zenia is a villain and one is supposed to hate her but I liked this character - you can like villains...right? You can have a favourite villain of all the ones you have ever read about. Well, Zenia is now one my favourite literay villains!

Though what Zenia does in this book is definitely deplorable but I just can't help think that she really did some good by getting rid of those disgusting parasites in Charis and Roz's life. Of course, Zenia's method was not right and she definitely was not set on a path to change Charis or Roz's life for better. But, in the end it was good for those two. All this would be true only if what Zenia says, in the book towards end, was actually true...one just can't trust her.

Apart from Zenia, my other favourite character would be Roz - her humor, the strength - she is great.

When I started this book, I felt it was too descriptive and a bit slow. But as I got accustomed to Atwood's writing style and when the story began to unfold... I just flew through it. All in all, a great fantastic read and I am definitely picking up more books from this author. On a final note, I hope no one ever has a Zenia in her life.

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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Muse by Jessie Burton Book Review

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The MuseThe Muse by Jessie Burton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I bought this book because:

1. I read 'The Minitiarist' by Jessie Burton last year and though I was not sold by it I still liked it. I loved Burton's writing enough to try another book from her. So, when 'The Muse' came out I decided to read it as soon as I can.

2. IT HAS A VERY BEAUTIFUL COVER!! The hardback edition of this book is so pretty that I had to buy it. As some might know that book covers matter a lot to me. So, yes...I saw the book and purchased it immediately.

Now coming back to 'The Muse'...well, when I started the book I got hooked to it right away. The writing, the narration, the fact that the story is split into two time periods - one in 1930s and the other in 1960s - everything just worked for me. And I was like sure, that yes, I will be blown away by this book.
The story has history, war, art and so much more - all mixed together with a mystery that just absorbs the reader and you continue to turn page after page. But, then after a while you realise that you have turned too many pages and you still continue to do so as the story just doesn't seem end! I have no problems with big books but in the case of 'The Muse', I felt that the story just dragged on after a while. I felt that some parts in the books were not necessary and they just lengthened the story.

I was sure I would love 'The Muse' when I began reading it but unfortunately again, just like the 'The Minitiarist', I liked it but am not sold by it. I still have faith in this author and I hope that may be her next book would work for me.

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Sunday, 23 October 2016

Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro Book Review

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Dear Life: StoriesDear Life: Stories by Alice Munro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first Alice Munro book and I really enjoyed it. I don't remember when was the last time I picked up a book with collection of short stories, may be it was several years back when I was a child. So, in a way it was a new experience for me.

It took me some time to get accustomed to her way of writing and narration when I started this book. I was also left confused about the ending of few stories in the beginning and I thought they ended abruptly. But as I made my way through the different stories, I really began to enjoy them and they started making more sense to me.
My favourites will be 'The Train', 'Dolly' and the title story 'Dear Life'.Though all the stories are beautiful in their own way, these three stories really stood out for me.

I am glad that I picked up this book as now I have discovered a new author for me and I look forward to reading more books from her.


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Friday, 14 October 2016

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler Book Review

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Ladder of YearsLadder of Years by Anne Tyler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great book by Anne Tyler that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Delia lives with her doctor husband and three almost grown children. She is at that stage of her life where everyone in the family begins to take the woman - the wife, the mother for granted. Her kids don't need her as much as they did when they were actually kids. As for her married life, well, that is settled into monotonous routine and Delia is often filled with doubts if love ever existed between the two.

Like every year, Delia and her family takes a vacation to a beach resort(not sure where exactly). One day she is taking a walk and before she realises, she finds herself far away from her family with no intention of going back....atleast for now...? She just walks out of their life and soon finds herself living another life with different people and at a place so far and so different from her own.

The idea of a woman walking out on her family might struck absurd to some but reading about Delia's life, I did not find this very idea offending at all. I genuinely felt that this random act, actually prooved to be good for her and for the readers too! As it is in this new place where one gets to meet the most bizare, the most amazing and the most lively characters.

The writing, as expected from Anne Tyler, is brilliant. What I love about Tyler's writing is that it's very real - she not only captures just the high level feelings and some major parts of life but even the every day mundane thoughts or events. This is the kind of stuff that other writers might not even think about penning down but Tyler does and that too beautifully.

What came as a pleasant surprise in this book was the humor. There were scenes when I laughed out loud...that too in public - after which I decided to never to read this book in public places.

Overall a great good-feel book. I did not love it as much as I loved A Spool of Blue Thread but immensly enjoyed it nonetheless. If you are an Anne Tyler fan, like me, you should definitely read it and in case you are not, you should anyways try it because this book will make you smile....often.


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Sunday, 9 October 2016

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles Book Review

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First of all, I am writing a proper book review after ages and there is a high chance that it will not be great as my writing skills have rusted a bit (they were never great to start with). So, my words might fail me but I hope you will understand the feelings :)

Anyways coming to the book - Rules of Civility - I first came to know about this book when I read Jeffrey Keeten's Goodread's review and I decided to pick it up whenever I got a chance. The review and the Goodread's summary was enough for me to think that I might like this book. I added to my TBR and last month (or I think before that) while deciding what to read next,I began scanning my TBR list, came across Rules of Civilty, looked for it in the library, found it and brought it home. 
But, with so much going on at home and work, I could not pick it up for weeks and renewed it from the library thrice -third being the final one after which you had to give the book back. I renewed it because I did not have the time to visit the library and drop it back...had I had some time off, I think I would have returned it unread and then come back to it after months or years. But, now after having completed this book, I am glad that I did not return it unread.


Plot

The backdrop is the 1930s New York where in late thirties, Katey and her friend Evelyn meet the rich-good looking Tinker in a Jazz bar. This chance encounter carves the lives of these three characters for the next one year...in fact this meeting ends up impacting their entire life. 
And this is what the book is all about - how your one decision, one chance encounter can change your whole life, how deeply it can affect you and your future.

Characters

I loved all the characters in this book - the main ones and the secondary ones. What I love about them is that they are far from perfect and thus making them very real. And Katey loves to read! I always enjoy books more when the protagonist is a book lover - and Katey talks a great deal about books thus making me like her more. Another character that I loved most alongwith Katey is Anne Grandyn - I am not sure why but I think it is the way she is portrayed. She is strong, practical and intelligent but at the same time a little manipulative. Anne's character is so enticing that it is difficult to neglect her despite the fact that she doesn't appear in the book much. But, wherever she is, she runs the show on those few paages. Some of my favorite lines in this book are by her. 

My Thoughts

This book turned so much better than I expected. With a plot not so different but yet so different, characters that you love to spend time with and writing that is simply spectactular - this book is a must read. Amor Towles writing is so engaging and delightful that I read and re-read several lines.
This is one of the best books that I have read this year and if you are a fan of great writing and some very real fantastic characters, then you shouldn't miss this one. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier Book Review

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“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
With one the most famous opening lines in books, I dived into the most popular work of Daphne du Maurier - Rebecca. This book was on my TBR since last year but after reading My Cousin Rachel some time back, I decided to get to Rebecca as soon as possible. Finally, this month I picked up this book and today I finished it.
When I turned the last page of the book, I had so many feelings and immediately I began comparing it with My Cousin Rachel. In fact, the comparison between the two books ran constantly at the back of my mind while I read Rebecca. Having said all this, Rebecca is a kind of book that needs to be read more than once as I feel that every time you will read it you will discover something that you missed when you read it first. This book deserves to be absorbed for it's obscure hints, it's beautiful writing and characters for which your feelings will continue to change as you progress with the book. 

Cover

I bought the VMC edition of Rebecca and it is stunning. VMC has some really beautiful books and this copy of Rebecca, I feel is the best among the several floating around in the market.



Plot

The heroine of Rebecca is a young girl who works as a paid companion to an indignant elderly lady, Mrs. Van Hopper. On a trip to Monte Carlo with Mrs. Hopper our heroine meets Maxim de Winter, a rich handsome widower. Despite the age difference between the two, they develop a bond, a friendship and begin to see each other often. A surprise marriage proposal from Mr. de Winter takes our heroine from the warm setting of South of France to the cold, dark and yet beautiful mansion, Manderly. Here she learns and discovers so much about her husband - be it his past or his present life, that she realises that she has never known the man whom she has married.
But, what worries and haunts her the most is the presence of his dead beautiful wife, Rebecca in every corner of Manderley. 

Characters

This book has a list of notorious characters who you will mostly despise or be scared of. 
The narrator, our nameless heroine, is shy and timid who keeps comparing herself to her husband's first wife, Rebecca. One of her quality that I found irksome at times was that she day dreams incessantly! Her train of thoughts runs uncontrollably on almost every topic, thing and situation she encounters. Her habit of day dreaming all the time might be contributed to her young age and her lack of close companions. She lacked family and friends and even after marriage, her distant, much older husband did not offer much of intimacy and togetherness she was looking for. She felt that every one she met compared her to Rebecca and thus, she avoided any contact with people both inside and outside Manderly. What is most intriguing and shocking is that the name of our heroine is never revealed. For the readers, she remains Mrs. de Winter. 
Maxim de Winter is, I feel,  the worst of all the dark characters. But, in spite of this you find yourself vouching for him unknowingly along with the heroine of the book. Then, suddenly you realise and think why are you doing this? He doesn't deserve it. But, this is the power of love I guess that you see between our heroine and Mr. de Winters. Your sympathy for the heroine and with so much background, you support him even if you don't want to. 
Mrs. Danvers is wicked,obsessed, cold-hearted and scary. You would hate her but would also be frightened of her. 
Finally, Rebecca de Winter, the character who is not alive but her ominous presence is felt throughout the narrative. She is so perfect and confident on the outside but as you slowly unfold her secrets you get to know the real Rebecca with every page you turn. 

What I like

This is my second book from Daphne du Maurier and just like My Cousin Rachel, the author maintains the dark, sinister setting where you know almost everything but as you progress with the book you begin to doubt your knowledge. You do not understand who to trust, who to support, who to hate and who to love. This dilemma in your mind that makes du Maurier's books unputdownable can be attributed to her tricky and ambiguous writing. Her writing is commendable and beautiful - yes - but what I feel is the strength of her writing is her narration. Du Maurier presents the facts, tells you the truth but the character she creates are so unreliable that you doubt the authenticity of the naked truth and their reality. And what is more fantastic(and also annoying at times) is that this confusion does not end even when you have read the last line of the book. When you mull over the book after completing it, you find that you still have some unanswered questions and you still don't quite know the truth. Rebecca, just like My Cousin Rachel with its dubious characters left me with some questions. Not only it's the questions, but there are so many depths to the story and the characters that you need to read and reread to understand the narration completely. With all the ambiguity and incredulity, the book entertains you. With some extraordinary lines, Rebecca is truly a masterpiece.
“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.” 

“I could fight with the living but I could not fight the dead. If there was some woman in London that Maxim loved, someone he wrote to, visited, dined with, slept with, I could fight her. We would stand on common ground. I should not be afraid. Anger and jealousy were things that could be conquered. One day the woman would grow old or tired or different, and Maxim would not love her anymore. But Rebecca would never grow old. Rebecca would always be the same. And she and I could not fight. She was too strong for me.”

“I thought how little we know about the feelings of old people. Children we understand, their fears and hopes and make-believe. I was a child yesterday. I had not forgotten. But Maxim’s grandmother, sitting there in her shawl with her poor blind eyes, what did she feel, what was she thinking? Did she know that Beatrice was yawning and glancing at her watch? Did she guess that we had come to visit her because we felt it right, it was a duty, so that when she got home afterwards Beatrice would be able to say, “Well, that clears my conscience for three months”?
And my favourite
“It's funny, I thought how the routine of life goes on, whatever happens, we do the same things, go through the little performance of eating, sleeping, washing. No crisis can break through the crust of habit.” 

What I did not like

The confusion, the doubts and not being able to rest till I was done with this book!

My final thoughts on the book

Rebecca deserves the praise and love it has received since the day it was published. The story is dark and thrilling with some memorable characters. The writing is simply stunning and beautiful. Unlike most people, I read My Cousin Rachel before I read Rebecca (usually people I know have done it the other way round). As I said in the beginning, I kept comparing the two and though I loved Rebecca, I found My Cousin Rachel slightly better. Both books are five stars for me but My Cousin Rachel has more erratic characters and is more misleading. There have been quite a few plagiarism allegations since the book was published claiming that Daphne du Maurier copied the story from here and there. The author, of course, denied all these allegations. Since nothing has been proved, hence for us and everyone this story has come from Daphne du Maurier and is one of her best. In the end, I want to say that, I loved Rebecca and I highly recommend to everyone who has not read it yet.