bookspluslife

April 30, 2017

Book: Master of the Game by Sydney Sheldon

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:51 pm

imageEven on a re-read, even after all these years, the story simply sparkles!

 

We have reviewed Are You Afraid Of the Dark and The Sky Is Falling by the same author earlier.

 

Starts with Kate Blackwell’s ninetieth birthday. She remembers her long life, and the story is fully in her reminiscences.

 

Awesome storytelling. What else do you expect from the master of the storytelling game? Starts with Jamie McGregor trying to strike it rich and going from famine stalking England to South Africa to make his fortune, alone, a nineteen year old boy.

He happens to somehow go to South Africa and meets Solomon Van der Marwe, his big African slave Bantu and his daughter Margaret and manages to get himself equipped with spending almost all his money (he had told Solomon how much he had). He goes and almost dies but manages to find diamonds, comes back rich, only to find that he does not own a thing. Solomon had tricked him into signing a contract that gives him everything!

 

When he protests, he is beaten up and left in the desert for dead but Bantu rescues him and they make a plan to just take the diamonds in an extremely heavily guarded island.  They go in a raft against all odds but reach the island with the raft smashed up. They collect the islands and the way they exit with no raft or an apparent  way to exit is wonderful.

 

He comes back to destroy Solomon Van der Marwe but also destroys his daughter Margaret in the process. She wins his grudging admiration with the boy and he is forced to offer her marriage to keep his son with him. He never offers her love, sadly.

In a drunken stupor, he gives Maggie a girl, Kate, and when in a mine one of his supervisors kills a native, his son is killed in revenge and Banta saves Kate from a similar fate. Jamie gets a stroke in agony and dies. Maggie runs the empire and brings up Kate with David’s assistance and Kate is determined to marry him! She is a wilful but a genius child.

 

When David falls hard for Josephine O’Neill, daughter of Tom O’Neill who has invented a way to revolutionize food industry and agrees to move to San Francisco to marry her and take care of the new company, Kate is crushed. But his plans fall apart when a major food conglomerate buys off his idea and he stays back in Kruger Brent. Did Kate have somthing to do with that reversal?

 

The twists in the story are incredible. How the young lady twists and plots and outwits them all is great to read. (Even the third time)

 

David marries Kate and discovers that they disagree on how to run the company. For instance Kate forces the company to make and sell armaments to the First World War, which David is vehemently opposed to.

 

When Kate suddenly finds she is pregnant and gets a son named Anthony, she is ecstatic but David dies in an explosion in South Africa. Her son Anthony wants to be an artist and has no interest in running the business which is Kate’s life. She manipulates him by sending Dominique to be his girlfriend to keep an eye on him and gets a master critic criticize his work to get him to give up painting and get back into running the company and his heart is simply not in it.

 

He hates his mom and how she still maneuvers him into marrying exactly the girl she wants for him is brilliant. The book reads well even the second time but it is really all fluff. The story is told straightforward, like a children’s tale and there are no subtle layers there. It is all anchored on sudden twists and surprises and it definitely works at that level. But then this can be said of all of Sydney Sheldon’s works.

 

She finds out that Marianne, the wife of Tony may die in childbirth and decides to hide it from Tony as well. All of her schemes are exposed to Tony on the same day that he learns that Marianne dies after giving birth to twins, Eve and Alexandra. He shoots his mother and goes plumb crazy and has to be lobotomized to keep him calm.

 

Eve is the evil one and tries to kill Alexandra several times from the tender age of five, and every time Alexandra narrowly escapes. Several times over.

 

When Eve goes wild with men and seduces a long time friend of Kate, her gig is up and she is cut off with a tiny allowance. She plots revenge and meets a gorgeous hunk of a man called George Mellis with a vicious temper. Perfect. She plans to “give” Alexandra to that man.

 

The scheming evil of Eve comes out well even in this fluffy narration. The plan is set in motion and Alexandra is hooked hopelessly by George Mellis. Marries him too.

 

George and Eve plot to take all the money of Kate after killing Alexandra. When Kate hears that Eve was near death and “out of concern” for her grandmother, wanted to keep it secret, she has a change of heart and takes her back in life. George knows that he may be written out of everybody’s life and wants to go ahead and kill Alexandra anyway, and the plot turns are brilliant.

 

When George Mellis takes Alex out on the boat to execute his evil plan anyway, knowing that if he did not, he himself would be sidelined by Eve, he is outwitted and outplayed completely by Eve.

 

The ending is exhilerating too. How Alexandra finds happiness, how Eve ends up, how Kate keeps planning tirelessly for the best of the company – it is all written brilliantly.

 

Sure, this is fluff. But good, absorbing, fluff.  8/10

– – Krishna

Movie : Rogue One (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:40 pm

imageThis is a much anticipated side story on Star Wars and it does have its moments – like how the plans of the death star got into the hands of the rebels.

Just like the Disney reboot of the Star Wars : The Force Awakens, there is a cameo from Princess Leah herself in this movie. This is made more poignant by the fact that Carrie Fisher died after this movie’s release, so speculation is rife on whether the future cameos from her would be a digitally animated version or not.

I definitely have a beef with the casting on this one as well. The casting of both the central characters does not gel with my idea of a Star Wars world. But I am sure I am in a very small minority. The dialogs also do not seem to be powerful : yes, I realize that the original Star Wars also had some pretty sappy dialogs but having grown into a cult status and having control handed to a colossus like Disney, I guess I expected more.

 

The story starts well and has the adorable robot which seems to have disjointed spheres sticking beside each other. Other than that it is a complicated Star Wars tale. For instance we learn that the heroine Jyn’s mother is killed by the Imperial Force when the father refuses to go work for the Emperor but the father is forcibly taken and goes to ‘save his daughter’ who is in hiding at that time.

The rebel forces want to take out the father but Cassin lies to her and makes her take him to the father’s location. In the meanwhile they go to weird places and a blind warrior asks Jyn about the necklace given by her father before he went away. See? I told you it is a complicated story.

It is best to see this. I think that the story’s complexity take away from the simple enjoyment of the story. You are constantly trying to recall who is who. For instance, Saw, who saved Jyn earlier, turns up later with an oxygen mask and a prosthetic leg and they have an argument on why he abandoned her. A lot of characters come and go, and at the end of the movie, you feel as if you studied for an exam.

 

There are scenes where tensely the rebels extract the plans for the death star in what looks like pre 3-G circuitry.

 

All in all, I’d say a 5/ 10

–   – Krishna

 

 

 

 

 

 

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