Thursday, January 31, 2008

Booking through weird characters

Sometimes I find eccentric characters quirky and fun, other times I find them too unbelievable and annoying. What are some of the more outrageous characters you’ve read, and how do you feel about them?

First quirky character that comes into mind is Mr Goon, the village policeman in the Enid Blyton's five find-outers series of 15 books. He is grumpy, pompous and too full of himself. He hates the children and their dog. As a kid I simply detested him.

In Charles Dicken's novel, David Copperfield, there was a character named Uriah Heep, a snakelike young man who often involves himself in matters that are none of his business. A two-faced, conniving villain who puts on a false show of humility and meekness to disguise his evil intentions. Uriah is motivated by his belief that the world owes him something for all the humiliations he suffered as a young man. Though Uriah is raised in a cruel environment similar to David’s, Uriah’s upbringing causes him to become bitter and vengeful rather than honest and hopeful. Dickens’s physical description of Uriah marks Uriah as a demonic character. He refers to Uriah’s movements as snakelike and gives Uriah red hair and red eyes. Uriah and David not only have opposing characteristics but also operate at cross-purposes. Somehow Uriah Heep has stayed in my mind with a strong a sense of revulsion.

In Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason books, who can forget the long limbed lanky detective, Paul Drake who is always drinking endless cups of coffee and eating burgers out of cardboard boxes. For all his apparently lazy movements, he is a brilliant detective, perfectly matched with the brains of Perry Mason.

I think Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot are too well known. We are all aware of their weird mannerisms.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

French Silk by Sandra Brown

Title: French Silk
Author: Sandra Brown
ISBN: 0446364266
Publisher: Warner Books/1992
Pages: 483

Persuasive televangelist Jackson Wilde has targeted Claire Laurent and her lingerie catalogue for her line, French Silk, as tools of the devil. When Wilde is murdered, Claire is the prime suspect. She claims that she is not the killer and that someone is trying to set her up. At the same time, she does not cooperate with the investigations by DA Robert Cassidy. She continues to lie to him, until he forces her hand as he keeps digging up things from her past. He is unprepared for the feelings, Claire arouses in him. For the first time in his life as a prosecutor, he finds himself desperately trying to find proof that their suspect is innocent. There are a host of others out there with motive to kill not so squeaky-clean preacher, including his latest wife and son, who are having a torrid affair.

Set against the backdrop of New Orleans, Sandra Brown weaves a tale of mystery, suspense and an unforgettable story of romance and family loyalty. Claire will stop at nothing to protect her fragile mother from an unforgiving world, her best friend from the perils of loving a married man, and the company she founded from the ravings of a religious fanatic.

Trying to forget her sad childhood, Claire has adopted an appearance of aloofness, building a wall around her emotions. Not since she was five, when the social workers first took her away from her mother, did she let anyone wield any power over her - until she meets Cassidy. Claire knows that it is hopeless to fall in love with the man who represents the system she has resented and feared since she was a child.

This story will keep you guessing until the climatic end, with its many twists and turns and subplots.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Silken Web by Sandra Brown

Title: The Silken Web
Author: Sandra Brown
ISBN: 0446364797
Publisher: Warner Books/1982
Pages: 325

I recently discovered Sandra Brown and bought two of her books. The Silken Web has a good story line. Kathleen, a fashion buyer, works as a counsellor at a summer camp for orphans. There she meets Erik Gudjonsen, a videographer who has come to cover the events in the camp. They are instantly attracted to each other, although Kathleen tries her best not to get involved with him. Then, Eric has an accident. While waiting for his surgery in the hospital, she is devasted to learn he is married. She leaves and moves to a news place. Eventually she gets married to her boss, Seth, a good man in every way..

After two years, Eric is hired by Seth to shoot for his stores. Then he meets Kathleen along with her son, Theron. All are soon caught up in a web of lies and deceit that will tear them apart. Kathleen must make a choice between happiness and stability or one more try with the very man who nearly destroyed her.

The best character I liked was Seth, who despite his circumstances has the ability to see the brighter side of life. As in any romance, this too has the usual twists and turns before the predictable successful conclusion.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Title: The Road
Author: Cormac McCarthy
ISBN: 9780330448628
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 307
Rating: 5/5

I won The Road from Melody in the BAFAB week in a book drawing. This book was a coveted one. Cormac McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize for 2007 for this book. After reading it, I thought rightly so. Not all award-winning books are readable. This one is. Once I started it, I could not put it down.

It is a story, if we can call it that, about a father and a son who remain nameless throughout the narration. Both are walking through America, which has been ravaged by fire. They are walking towards south to the coasts. On their way to it, there is nothing but ashes, burnt trees, and soulless houses. They have each other and a pistol for a company. They pass through dead towns, looted houses, finding corpses on their way. They are afraid to meet other fellow human beings. Men who kill for food, for any kind of food.

The Man all the while tries to save the boy. Love and despair go hand in hand. Without the boy, he would have been dead long ago. Survival is the key. He does all he can to save himself and his son. However, he also prepares the boy to survive in case he is no longer there. The interactions between the father and the son is very interesting. We do not see dialogues, only narration. The Man instils moral values in the boy even in great adversity. At certain places, we see that he is not disappointed. His son has risen above the father.
The sparseness of languages enhances the harshness of the situation. This is what makes it chilling, scary and very gripping. If we do not take care of our Earth, this might become a reality. A forest burning is not a new phenomenon. The same reaching out cities and destroying can become a fact. What is shocking is that it can become a reality. The nameless people could be us…

Language used can be called poetry in prose. One pauses at certain places to enjoy the sheer beauty of words. One feels sad. However, there is hope too at the end, a salvation of some kind. This book should be read by all. Those who do not care for the Earth and those who truly love it.

To be precise, this book is not everyone's cup of tea. Only those who appreciate serious reading should go for it. Many might find it difficult to follow it through the end as it appears bleak. It is not the feel good kind of novel for those peppy readers. For them, my suggestion is- leave it well alone!

Also reviewed by


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Heart of Thunder by Johanna Lindsay

Title: Heart of Thunder
Author: Johanna Lindsay
ISBN: 0380851180
Publisher: Avon Books/1983
Pages: 359

Samantha Kingsley is in love with her best friend's brother Adrien and travels with them on her way home from school in the East to Mexico. Along the way, their stagecoach picks up a handsome stranger. Hank Chevez is a reformed bandit trying to regain his childhood home. After losing his horse, he hitches a ride on a stagecoach and meets Samantha. Samantha sees the attractive stranger as an opportunity to make Adrien jealous, but her plan backfires. Hank appears to be falling for her. After learning the truth, he becomes sullen and hateful. Samantha responds in kind and they part ways. When she arrives home, she discovers that a violent Mexican bandit is trying to run her father off.
To force an American rancher off his ancestral land, Hank Chavez orders the kidnapping of the rancher's daughter, not knowing that the daughter is the same girl. Hank forces her to marry him and leaves her soon after.

Samantha is a strong willful girl who is a great shot. She is afraid of nothing. Very courageous and headstrong, she can more than take care of herself. She hates Hank although both are strongly attracted towards each other. Infact, they sizzle together.

Hank Chavez, the hero, as a roguish outlaw is very endearing. This is a superb love story between two very strong willed people. They require a year of living apart, to realize they cannot live without each other. Lindsay has created some minor characters too that would lend themselves to books of their own, Lorenzo, Hank's faithful outlaw/rancher friend and Sheldon, Samantha's brother

Booking through "huh"

What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”

There are many I can recall. Jostein Gaarder comes into mind first. I love his books. The Solitaire Mystery remains one of my all time favourite books. This can be compared to the best of fantasies. Surprisingly, few know about it. Currently I am re-reading another of his book, Sophie's World.

When I talk of Chimanada Ngozi Adichie, no one has heard of her too. Then there is Neil Gaiman, who is not well known in India. He is yet to be discovered here. Amy Tan too is not known very widely here. I recently bought her book, The Bonesetter's Daughter for half an US dollar. I am truly amazed. Jodi Picoult is so well-known but almost no one knows her, including the bookshops near my place. Small libraries do not keep any of the above author's books. I have tough time finding those. Can you believe it, I have found those authors on the roadside book bazaars, virtually for a steal? Not that I am complaining!

Update: I completely forgot to mention Warwick Deeping. He was one prolific English novelist and short story writer. His most famous novel is Sorrell and Son (1925). Deeping is a master storyteller. He seems to be forgotten as of now. He is one author who needs to be re-discovered. His works need to be widely read.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Wind Dancer by Iris Johanson

Title: The Wind Dancer
Author: Iris Johansen
ISBN: 0553288555
Publisher: Bantam Books/1991
Pages: 385

The Wind Dancer is a historical romance set in Florence, Italy from March 1505. Johansen is another romance writer I do not mind reading.
Sanchia is a slave who is only sixteen year old. As she has a heart of gold, he has taken upon herself to look after three other children like her. To do that, she has to resort to thieving. Lionello Andreas, a soldier and a shipbuilder, has this burning obsession to get back The Wind Dancer a small statue of a winged horse which has belonged to his family from many generations. This statue has been stolen from him by Damari. To get it back, he needs a thief.Lionello buys Sanchia from her present master. However, Sanchia drives a hard bargain in order to settle those other three children with her.

This book shouldn't be classed as a romance novel, because it's much better than what usually passes for that genre: it's a real novel, with complex characters, genuine development and transformation, none of the shameless, embarrassing features that bring the level down.

The hero is not perfect, and is not a knight in shining armor; no one is entirely good or entirely evil, just complex people in a primitive time, trying to live and be happy. This makes the characters so much more intricate, convincing, and fascinating. The best feature: the human relationships. The author shows how historical and personal events often/always spring from the simple human motives: jealousy, spite, lust, love, mastery, competition, desire to win the fair maiden. These are the forces that shape history.

Sanchia's attitude towards her enslavement definitely does change. Sanchia also becomes a very strong woman. Every single one of the characters were as every bit as interesting as the hero and heroine, Lion and Sanchia. However, Lorenzo is by far the best character. Perhaps it's his witty words that bring him out the most.

Lion and Sanchia are magic together, sexually, emotionally, verbally, everything! The author has dreamt up a world fraught with danger and treachery but also one full of out-of-this-world larger-than-life passion and love and made this reader want to abandon everything to jump into that world.

One is drawn into this world of pain, suffering, revenge, and death, only to come out on top with love, hope and a strength that can overcome anything. Throught the book, its as if the lives of each character are being tossed about, broken and shaken up, yet their lives are just changing.

I enjoyed the story every much and marveled at the plot twists. There was good character development too. As the story progressed, one finds out more about the inner feelings of the characters through the events that happened. All characters are very well developed, Sanchia, Lion, Lorenzo, Caterina, even Marco and Bianca. The unfolding events grip you and send you feeling the anguish and horror experienced by the characters. Unlike a war, the casualties may be faceless victims, but the author hasd built the characters so well that one empathises with their grief, mourns their loss and admires their courage.

I like Johansen because her characters are not static, they evolve throughout the story. She's not too squeamish about revenge either.

A Creed for the Third Millennium by Colleen McCullough

Title: A Creed for the Third Millennium
Author: Colleen McCullough
ISBN: 038070134
Publisher: Avon Books/1985
Pages: 464

A Creed for the Third Millennium speaks of a world in not-too-distant future. It is more than a simple analogy for a time-transplanted gospel. Dr. Joshua Christian is born during the presidency of Augustus Rome. His story unfolds during the presidency of Augustus's hand-picked successor Tibor Reece, when the government invents "Operation Messiah" in order to bring a message of spiritual renewal to an oppressed citizenry, despite the reluctance of Cabinet secretary Harold Magnus . Christian's advocate Judith Carrioll manages the project, to his ultimate detriment, while hired biographer Lucy Greco tells his story for the masses.

Despite the many unsubtle analogies to the New Testament, "Operation Messiah" cannot follow--the story of Jesus too literally, hence author Colleen McCullough experiments with twists on the story in its twenty-first-century setting. Sometimes her twists makes sense, but more often they do not, and they leave the reader wondering where she was trying to go with her story. She may not have known herself. But she paints an interesting twenty-first-century America, despairing over climatic and economic changes, whose government goes searching for someone "capable of teaching a sick nation how to heal itself" and finds and then elevates a made-to-order messiah. These manipulations finally destroy the messiah.

Even though the plot left much to be desired, but the writing was very good, the narrative flowed easily (even when the author seemed unsure about where it was flowing to), and the story was occasionally thought-provoking. The reader quickly realizes Judith Carrol is Judas Iscariot, and the main character is Christ all placed in the future. The interesting twist is relating the idea to a twisted, sick love and admiration for someone, a person that must be controlled somehow.

While the writing style is still quite simple and her symbolism is much too obvious, the novel offers a thought-provoking vision of a not-too-distant and all-too-possible future. The creation of a modern day messiah through the government's manipulation of the media is a fascinating premise. Although the ending couldn't have been any other way, it left me feeling sad. It is a very different read from The Thorn Birds. Not all would like this. It tends to get monotonous at certain places.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Title: Kafka on the Shore
Author: Haruki Murakami
ISBN-10: 1-400-7927-6
Publisher: Vintage International/2005
Pages: 467
Rating: 5/5

I have wanted to read Kafka on the Shore for a while now. It was on my TBR pile. However, I never got around it until yesterday. Once I started, I had to finish it. One can call it metaphysical fantasy fiction, with dream and logic going hand in hand. Where dreams starts or logic ends or vice versa do not have clear-cut demarcations. Where the inner us meets with the outer us are not separate either.

Kafka Tamura runs away from home on his fifteenth birthday to look out for his long lost mother and sister. Moreover, to escape an oedipal curse by his father. Another parallel story about Nakata, an old man of sixty plus years, a simpleton who had lost his ability to read and write due to some war affliction follows the main one. Most people take him to be dumb. He has been abandoned by his family and lives on Govt subsidy.

On this journey, Kafka meets many interesting characters like Sakura, Oshima and Miss Saeki. Similarly, Nakata too meets Hoshino, a truck driver who is drawn to this simpleton and quits his job to be with him. Nakata has strange compulsions he does not understand. He knows that his path is taking him somewhere towards a boy he has never met. In this metaphorical tale, cats can talk to Nakata, fishes and leeches rain on his whim. Spirits can travel beyond time and space to make love or kill.

Kafka is a self-sufficient boy. He can survive under any circumstances. He adapts easily. However, he has to find himself. How does he do it? What is his relationship with Miss Saeki? How does Oshima affect him? What does he finally find? Why is he lured towards a painting of boy in a beach? What is the entrance stone referred to in the lyrics, Kafka on the Shore?

Oshima, Miss Saeki and Nakata are all different from the normal and just as fascinating. Hoshino is a normal young man. Still he is drawn to Nakata and sticks to him. Thus, he discovers himself on the way. This novel asks many questions, takes us into different directions. In a way, it tells us to find the answers in the all the signs, symbols and metaphors. We learn about world philosophy, great writers and beautiful quotations. A must read.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Double Take by Brenda Joyce

Title: Double Take
Author: Brenda Joyce
ISBN: 0312991452

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks/2003

Pages: 376

When her estranged twin sister Lana, asks Kait to take her place at her home for two days, in the Horse country of Virginia, Kait agrees without thinking. After all, they had done this so many times when they were younger. Lana never told anyone that he is married and has a four-year old daughter, Marnie. Hence, the deception is not as easy as it initially seems.

Kait is amazed to know Lana has married Trev Coleman. Kait had been on the verge of interviewing him a few years back and he had stood her up. When she arrives at Lana’s place, she finds that her twin has too many dark secrets and too many enemies, including her husband.
No one in Three Falls really likes Lana. It seems everyone hates her with a passion. Within minutes of walking through the doors, Trev hands her divorce papers. Kait has been thrown into a nightmare. Things got worse when Kait falls in love with her sister's husband and someone is trying to kill her.

Double take keeps the interest alive until the end. Lana’s true character is slowly revealed to Kait. The strong current of attraction between Kait and Trev is palpable. Will Kait survive the few days she is asked to take Lana's place? Will Lana come back in time to fix what is wrong and save her twin that she had not ever been close to and for once keep a promise to her? Will Kait succumb to the temptation of Lana's gorgeous husband? These thoughts and others run wild in the head as one delves into their dangerous world of deception and forbidden wants. Kait soon realizes her sister is someone entirely different from the sex kitten she grew up with and is multi-faceted. The point is, will Kait keep up and succeed in pretending to be this woman?

Brenda Joyce provides the audience with a terse romantic suspense that is filled with twists and keeps the tension at high levels throughout the tale. The intention of Lana's deception gives both readers and Kait a charade to solve and the growing suspense intensifies the twists and tension of the tale. A deadly game that could get them both in serious trouble and more enemies than Kait can handle make this book worth keeping. In romances, I really like reading Brenda Joyce.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Morning Comes Softly by Debbie Macomber

Title: Morning Comes Softly
Author: Debbie Macomber

ISBN: 9780061080630

Publisher: Avon Books/1993

Pages: 374

Debbie Macomber seems to be a popular writer. I see her books all over the place. This one was a gift from one of my friends. She reads romances like mad and is trying to reform me. Lately I have been reading many romances. My heavy reading has taken a toll. I can read for my pleasure, can’t I?

Morning Comes Softly has a quaint story line. Travis Thompson has lost his brother and his sister in law in an accident. Now he finds himself the caretaker of their three kids. The children's constant comparison of Travis's home life to their parents' does not help. Travis needs someone to nurture the three young. Surly Travis spurns the local townswomen's offers of help, preferring to manage the children in his own way.

With the threat of having the children taken into care hanging over him, Travis realizes that desperate action has to be taken. Advertising for a bride is his last chance to salvage his life before he loses the children to the foster care system.
Mary Warner is a 32-year-old librarian, small of stature, big of heart. Alone now after the death of her mother, her feelings of loneliness are intensified when she reads Travis Thompson's newspaper advertisement. She yearns to be a wife and mother, but her perceived lack of beauty and slight build have badly dented her self-confidence. She feels this is her only chance for a family and responds to him.

Travis's wish for a long-legged, well-endowed blonde are left unmet, as Mary reminds him of nothing so much as Minnie Mouse when she gets off the plane and two days later they are married. There are few weeks of tough adjustment, which is much harder on Travis than on Mary, whose skills in the kitchen and with the sewing machine are second to her ability to take charge of a household. There are lot of elements here: the grieving children, a grieving Travis who has no time for grief, and Mary adjusting from a damp Louisiana to a dry Montana.

Then there is Travis's reputation in the town as a hell-raiser. Who would have thought he would advertise for a wife, much less settle on someone like Mary?
A sub-plot involving Travis's desperate search to find the person responsible for his brother's death gives the novel some added depth.

This is reprint of a warm early 1990s contemporary ranch romance. The fun in the tale is taking the nineteenth century mail order bride theme and bringing it into the late twentieth century. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as he is gruff and she is shy; yet the three kids steal the hearts of the audience. Predictable ending as expected.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
ISBN-13: 9780380789016
ISBN-10: 0380789019
Publisher: HarperTorch/1997
Pages: 370

I came to know of Neil Gaiman from the blog world. I won American Gods from Dewey in a book giveaway. I had asked one of my friends to get me Neverwhere when she visited India. I started Neverwhere today and did not put it down until I finished. Next, I will read American Gods.

Neverwhere is a page- turner through and through. Richard is just an ordinary man with a heart of gold. One day while on a dinner date with his fiancée, he stumbles upon an injured girl in a sidewalk. He helps her and his life changes forever. Without wanting to, he is sucked into a world, which he never knew exists. In underground stations, abandoned buildings and sewer pipelines/channels, a dark and murky world exists unknown to the real one. He wants his life back but he cannot have it back.

In this magical tale of fantasy world, we get to meet many interesting characters like marquez de Carabas, Door, Hunter, Old Baily and angel Islington. Mr Croup and Mr. Vandemar are creepy and totally evil. They are so matter of fact about their evil nature. That makes it so much more chilling. Richard gets embroiled into their world all the while wanting to get back to his world. Labyrinths and wild strange beasts engross us until the end.

It is the modern day Alice in Wonderland, with so much vivid imagery. Nothing feels out of place here. At certain places, one simply stops and savours the sheer beauty of words. It is scary, whimsical, has a great pace, imaginative and very alive. Wit and humour is maintained throughout. Our protagonist is like any other man, not a superhero. More than anything else, one wants to re-read it as soon one finishes. Neil Gaiman is an author to watch out for.

Friday, January 11, 2008

After the Fire by Belva Plain

Title: After the Fire
Author: Belva Plain
ISBN: 044023574X
Publisher: Dell Publishing/2000
Pages: 439

This is one of the books I picked up from the pavement book bazaar dirt-cheap because I liked the cover. I had heard of Belva Plain before this.

Initially the story moves a bit slowly as it describes the meeting, dating, and subsequent marriage of Gerald and Hyacinth. Their marriage is the envy of all their friends. The pace picks up, once Gerald becomes a successful doctor and then their marriage begins to fall apart. Hyacinth's jealousy places her in a position, which results in a death of a man. Gerald gets the perfect weapon to blackmail her. He divorces her, taking away their children to Florida. For fear of what Gerald will do with his knowledge, prevents Hyacinth to fight for custody of their children.

Belva Plain does a good job of developing her characters and making the reader feel their pain. When Hyacinth mops around the house after Gerald and the kids move to Florida, one can feel the intense pain she is undergoing. When she finally pulls herself together, goes to school, and becomes a successful fashion designer, one can only encourage her. On the other hand, one feels nothing but plain loathing for Gerald for being so cruel as to keep children away from their mother. The reader's heart also aches for the children who are caught in the middle and do not understand why their mother is not staying with them.

After the Fire holds your interest and makes you want to keep reading. The twists and turns of Hyacinth's life after her divorce and loss of custody of her children make this book a real page-turner. The suspense is maintained throughout the book so as to what really happened that night which changed Hyacinth's life forever. And how she overcomes it to fight back for her children. It makes a good Sunday afternoon read. Not your usual romance.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Once and Always by Judith McNaught

Title: Once and Always
Author: Judith McNaught
ISBN: 0671737627
Publisher: Pocket Books/1987
Pages: 375

Once and Always is another historical romance I read. I seem to reading a lot of historcal romances. It is set in 1818.

Victoria Seaton, is suddenly orphaned and has to sail across the vast ocean to England to be with her distant cousin Charles Fielding, Duke of Atherton. She ends up marrying Lord Jason Fielding, Charles's illegitimate son. They do have a strong attraction for each other but Jason remains an enigma to Victoria. Bewildered by his arrogant demeanor, yet drawn to his panther-like grace, she comes to sense painful memories that smoulder in his jade-green eyes.

They come to like each other. Just when she thinks all is going to be well with them, she discovers treachery. Assuming she has been cheated, she runs away to her grandmama's place. She is presumed to be dead by all and Jason is devastated. Of course, it has a predictable ending. It was good dialogues. Character building leaves a bit to be desired.

A bit of a narration is about India. That shows it in a very poor light. Indians are mentioned as dirty, fanatic and do not seem care about physical abuse of another human being. I find that portion utterly offensive. She should have researched before writting something sweeping like that. This is one reason, I am not going to read any of her books again.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

Title: Picture Perfect
Author: Jodi Picoult
ISBN: 9780425185508
Publisher: Berkley Books/1995
Pages: 369

A woman loses her memory and is found by a cop, Will Flying Horse, who is half-white Lakota Indian. When they advertise about her in the newspapers, Alex Rivers, one of the hottest actors of Hollywood comes to claim her as his wife, Cassie Barrett, a well-known anthropologist. Everyone including Cassie is stunned. He takes her back to their larger than life of luxury. He is the perfect husband that anyone can wish to have. However, she does not recognise him although he says they have been married for three years.

By bits and pieces, Cassie regains her memory and remembers why she had left him in the first place. She again walks out on him without saying a word and goes to Will to hide her from Alex. She knows Alex has the resource to find her from anywhere. Will knows one place where no one would look for Cassie, the Indian reservation that he hates with all his heart. However having no other choice, he takes her there to his grand parents, Cyrus and Dorothea who are not very welcoming and look at her with scepticism. Slowly they accept her into their fold.

Alex is deeply in love with his wife. When she walks away with a word for the second time, he completely breaks down. Cassie loves her husband and knows that she will go back to him, even though he cannot keep his promises. Finally, Cassie realises she cannot live with him. She has only one way of getting out it. That is, by telling the Media the secret about Alex Rivers by calling a press conference. It is the only way he can let go of her, by hating her.

Why does she run away in the first place? What is the secret between him, which no one else knows? Why cannot Cassie get away from him? Is she ever free of him? Why does she keep on remembering her childhood friend, Connor? How does Will make a difference to her life? Is it true that we cannot escape the past, no matter what?

As with all of her books, this too covers a topic, which is so much prevalent all over the world. Nevertheless, women do not want to come out of it. Why does a woman put up with so much in the name of love? What makes her love that man who physically abuses her? Why does a woman think and feel that he will change as he promised?

It is one of the earlier books by Picoult. It is interesting but not as compelling as her later books. She makes use of Indian folklore as symbolism. Jodi Picoult does a lot of research to write a book. Her characters are never black or white.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Booking through new authors

1. How did you come across your favorite author(s)? Recommended by a friend? Stumbled across at a bookstore? A book given to you as a gift?

2. Was it love at first sight? Or did the love affair evolve over a long acquaintance?

I was introduced to many authors by my dad. He had a great collection and encouraged me to read. He introduced me to G B Shaw, Somerset Maugham, Rabindranath Tagore when I was very young. In fact my love for the sciences to comes from him. He gifted us Books by Feynman and Einstein. I still have those yellowed leather bound editions.

In my early teenage years, I read too many Mills and Boons romances. Those were very popular amongst girls. I suppose still are. Later years, my brothers introduced me to bestsellers by Alistair Maclean, Grisham and Robert Ludlum. I have read almost all the Perry Masons and Agatha Christies. In my last two years of school, I was hooked to classics.

Then, I suppose friends introduced me to Ayn Rand, Daphne du Maurier etc etc. After that, I just picked up books, I had read about from the media. Marquez is one such author. Steinbeck too. Now I can read almost anything. I try to make it as varied I can. I do not need to be broken into an Author. I can pick up and start reading. From the blog world, I discovered Atwood, Picoult, Gaiman to name just a few.

Many like Steinbeck, Marquez, Atwood, Picoult are love at first sight. A few Russian authors, those evolved over a period of time.