Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Classic, Literary Fiction, Drama, Coming Of Age, Young Adult
Louisa May Alcott is an American writer. She has written poems and short stories that appeared regularly in journals around 1850s. Though she is famous for writing Little Women, she has also authored other books like Flower Fables and Hospital Sketches.
Little Women is the story of four young March girls under the care of their mother Mrs. March for years as their father is away at the war. Margaret March a.k.a. Meg, the eldest at 16, Josephine March a.k.a Jo, second at 15, Elizabeth March a.k.a. Beth, third at 13, and Amy March the last at 12. The family is poor and is only able to look after themselves as much as they can. While Meg and Amy wish they had more money, Jo and Beth are happy with what they have. Mrs. March knows how each of her daughters are, and is close to each of them. The daughters too are close to each other. Due to their good nature, their neighbour Mr. Laurance and his grandson, Laurie, become close to the family. They interact with their grandaunt often at whose place Jo works. Laurie’s tutor, John Brooke, likes the girly Meg. Laurie falls for tomboy Jo. Beth falls sick, which is pretty serious in those ages when medical science had not developed much. Amy becomes an artist. What happens in each girl’s life is what you get to know by reading Little Women.
I first heard of the book on the famous sitcom Friends where Rachel and Joey discuss books. I later got to know it is a classic. When I started reading it, in the beginning I got bored. Maybe it was because I could not relate much to the times of 1840s and 1850s. The initial pages tell you about Marches’ lifestyle. As and when the story moves forward, I started to enjoy it. So much about the sisters bickering with each other and love back all the same. What got me glued to the book and did not let me put it down was the relationship between Jo and Laurie. Louisa May Alcott has described it in detail, with every expression and emotion, that I simply read on. I found myself rooting for them. Amy comes out as a surprise towards the end. Watch out for her!
I can say, the only two classics that I have thoroughly enjoyed are Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Little Women is for everyone, irrespective of age, gender and geographical location.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Play, Drama
Imprint: Kindle edition
Ajesh Sharma is an NRI writer residing in Canada. A Couple of Choices is his first play and first published work.
Alex is a writer living in seclusion, somewhere is outskirts of a city that is almost a jungle. Linda, his literary agent, is after him to know why his estranged wife, Phyllis, is visiting him after so many years. Alex is all ready to welcome Phyllis to his home as if she is coming to live with him forever. Even he doesn’t know why she is visiting him. Though Alex is not keen on it, Linda barges into his privacy and insists on meeting Phyllis. Linda wants to know if Phyllis is the inspiration behind the great female characters in Alex’s stories. After the meet and greet, Phyllis tells Alex the reason she is visiting him. Alex is saddened, angered and calm, all at the same time after listening to the reason behind Phyllis’ visit. What is that reason? Read (enact in your mind) A Couple of Choices to know the reason.
A Couple of Choices is a play with dialogues that sound like every day conversations. They are in layman language and not complicated. Moreover, it is about a topic with which most of us are familiar. In a short duration, this play tells you about the bonds that weren’t supposed to happen, weren’t supposed to break, weren’t supposed to renew. All this in an easy flow of dialogues and mannerisms. But I felt the ending was kind of abrupt. On the other hand, I feel the characters just moved on with their lives. Maybe I missed something the author has hinted. All in all, I enjoyed reading it.
Even if you are not into plays, do give A Couple of Choices a read. It is not some random script for a play that doesn’t know where it is taking its audience (or even readers). It is a beautifully scripted play that can teach anybody a thing or two about relationships. Do give A Couple of Choices a read.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Fiction
Imprint: Alfred A Knoff, New York
Jo Nesbo is a musician, song writer and economist, as well as writer. His Harry Hole novels include The Redeemer, The Snowman, The Leopard and Phantom, and he is also the author of several stand-alone novels and the Doctor Proctor series of children’s books. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Glass Key for best Nordic crime novel. The Son, known as Sonner in Norwegien, is one of the stand alone works of this multi-talented writer. It was published in 2014.
Sonny Lofthus is happily settled in the prison convicted for the crimes that he didn’t do but is getting drugs as a compensation. He doesn’t have a care for the world, but every prisoner thinks he is divine and goes to him to make a confession whenever they feel burdened by their conscience. When Sonny gets to know that his father was not a mole but was a victim of conspirers, he breaks out of the prison to avenge his father’s death and other meaningless deaths for which he was made scapegoat. In the process, he falls in love with Martha who is caretaker of the drug addicts hostel where he takes refuge. Simon Kefas, a aging but efficient police officer who was Sonny’s father’s partner and friend, starts looking for the son who ends up finally looking for the Twin who heads the mafia in Norway. With government officials conspiring against Sonny and unsure whether Simon is helpful or not, the son forges is way ahead to reach the Twin. How he does and what he does is for you to not just read but to enjoy.
It took me some time to get used to so many characters thrown at me one after other. But they all are well etched and distinct characters that are not just brought in to be props but to move story forward. Reading the novel felt like I was watching a movie. Everything was well described and was catering to my imagination.
The Son by Jo Nesbo is a must read. Don’t miss it.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Fiction, Drama
Sinjini Sengupta is a poetess, columnist and a short story writer. By profession, she is an actuary. Her debut novel Elixir is based on mental health.
Manisha is an actuary in an MNC. She is married to Amit who is working hard for his startup. Theirs is an arranged marriage with no love, and no understanding from Amit’s end. Manisha feels lonely as her husband doesn’t give her any attention, and whenever she tries to tell him anything, he ignores her. Amit always takes his mother’s side though he knows his wife is right. In his ignorance towards his wife, he doesn’t notice that she is suddenly happy with her life and suddenly screws up at her job for which she was always praised. Her strange behavior catches his attention and bothers him. This even takes them on the verge of divorce. But what is this strange but seemingly normal life of Manisha that is troubling people around her? Read Elixir to get your answer. Or rather rush through it. Why? I will tell you.
As mentioned above, Elixir is a novel about mental health. But reading it will give readers a mental illness. Author has used “you see” so many times that it starts to get on the nerves. Every character talks like that as if there is no difference between one another. The writing or terrible editing has left too many commas for the readers making the narration unreadable. The narration is incorrigible. Even after three chapters can’t understand what Manisha is doing. Maybe that is what the author wants to convey; not let the readers understand the story. So much of description that cannot be understood has killed my imagination and made me turn to Facebook often. The author’s attempted sophisticated description about everything is suffocating. To top it all, Manisha is always wondering whether it will rain today or not. She has a reason, but this wondering is overdone, left me wondering why I am reading it. I understand that Sengupta was describing Manisha’s loneliness. But in that attempt, she makes the reader feel lonely with her book. The experience of reading this book was truly traumatic.
Read Elixir by Sinjini Sengupta if you have nothing better to read. Oops, you can’t read until the last three chapters. Till then, you ought to rush to keep your sanity.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Classic, Drama, Illustrated version
Imprint: Rockport Publishers, USA.
To read about Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and its graphic novel version, click here. To get a review of the illustrated version by Alice Pattullo with Rockport Publishers, read on.
To misinterpret a classic is one thing and to ruin the enjoyment of a classic is another. And Rockport Publishers have succeeded in ruining the pleasure of reading this illustrated version of theirs by gaudy illustrations by Alice Pattullo and horrible editing and spelling mistakes. Did the publishers not have an in-house editor or could they not hire one? Here is a list, but non exhaustive, of mistakes that can easily be found in the book:
- Keep keep instead of keep
- Me instead of my
- Coining instead of coming
- Ouly instead of only
Don’t waste your money on this illustrated version of Pride and Prejudice. The illustrations will haunt you. Not worth feeling bad about a classic as great as this work by Jane Austen.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Chick lit, Romance, Drama.
Imprint: St. Martin’s Griffin, New York.
Though Emily Giffin has written many novels, her more famous work is Something Borrowed. It was not only a bestseller, but all was made into a major movie with minor changes to the storyline and characters.
Rachel has turned thirty and is still single contrary to her dreams and hopes of being settled by this age with someone who loves her and whom she loves in return. Her best friend Darcy is getting married in a few months. The fiancé is Rachel’s classmate and friend Dexter. In inebriated state and in absence of Darcy, Dexter and Rachel have sex and try to forget it later only to find out that they both like each other. Rachel is surprised to find out Dexter has always liked her but was discouraged by her own indifferent and casual behaviour towards him. Now that they both know the truth and love each other, the only obstacle in the path is Darcy who wants everything her way and likes to put up a show for everything everywhere. Dexter hinders from breaking the engagement but also doesn’t leave Rachel to be on her own. On consultation and persuasion of her good friends Hillary and Ethan, Rachel decides to leave Dexter to be his coward self and goes to meet Ethan in London as she is also fed up of being Darcy’s sidekick since childhood. What does Dexter do now? Does Rachel’s life change in London? Does Darcy turn out to be a better person or stay the shallow ever? Read the book to catch up on the lives of these friends.
Something Borrowed dwells on the ethics of friendship, moral dilemma and seeking happiness for self. It does feel dragged at places but it can be justified as it helps in showing the reader the mindset of Rachel. Since the story is both in book and movie forms, the comparison can be made. There are minor changes in the movie compared to the book. For example, in the book Darcy is dark haired and is wearing a red dress for Rachel’s birthday party, but in the movie she is blonde and is wearing a white dress. In the movie, the characters Hillary and Ethan are merged in one character that is Ethan. In the book Ethan is already in London as the story begins, but in the movie he moves to London later. Nevertheless, both book and movie are good. But for the first time, being a reader, I felt the movie was better than the book. Go for either of the forms of storytelling. You will like Something Borrowed.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Play, Fiction, Drama
William Shakespeare doesn’t need any introduction. He has numerous plays, novels and short stories to his name. There is so much of him, yet we cannot have enough of him.
The Winter’s Tale is a play by William Shakespeare telling us the story of the kingdoms, Sicilia and Bohemia through their royalties. Leontes is the king Sicilia and his wife, the queen, is Hermoine. Leontes childhood friend is Polixenes who is the king of Bohemia and is about to go back to his kingdom after a really long vacation in Sicilia. Seeing Leontes desperately trying to make Polixenes stay for more time, the very much pregnant Hermoine succeeds in convincing the king of Bohemia to stay back. This creates suspicion in Leontes regarding illicit affair of his wife with his friend. He believes the child in Hermoine’s womb is Polixenes’ and not his own. He sends his wife to prison and asks his loyal servant Camillo to kill the Bohemian king. But Camillo, who knows that his king is out of sorts, helps Polixenes escape to Bohemia and he himself goes with the Bohemian king to Bohemia. Hermoine gives birth to a baby girl, but Leontes doesn’t accept her as his. Their son, the prince, dies as he is separated from his mother. Hermoine too dies in prison. Paulina, wife of Antigonus, both loyal to Leontes, tries to convince the king, but in vain. Leontes orders Anitgonus to take the baby away and kill it. But Antigonus leaves it in Bohemia and gets killed by a bear in the process. On the other hand, Leontes learns from prophecies from the Apollo oracle that he made a mistake regarding his family and repents. What happens to the two royal families is the rest of the story.
There is no doubt that William Shakespeare has a good story in store with The Winter’s Tale. Most of the Hollywood and Bollywood movies are based on his stories. The only downside of this play is it is an unabridged version. It takes the readers some time to get used to the language and understand what is happening. Do give it a try.