bookspluslife

September 9, 2018

Book: 11/23/63 by Stephen King

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 7:50 pm

imageMy God, is there no end to the varied stories Stephen King can write and make interesting? ­­We have reviewed many of the author’s books here. See Under The Dome and Revival for but just two examples. This one is about time travel and is fascinating to read.

 

The narrator Jake Epping, a teacher, does not feel emotion enough to cry for anything and his wife Christy leaves him citing that reason. He reads a heartrending assignment from an ESL student called Hoptoad Harry or Harry Dunnings really, who limps (hence the nickname) and was a victim of a mass violence in his young age. He meets Harry’s graduation.

 

There is subtle humour, as in some of his best books, like the bar owner Al Templeton considering himself a good “Catlick” When Al Templeton uncharacteristically calls him to come and see him immediately, Jake does not know what he is getting into. Al is thinner and older than he should be, given that Jake had just seen him the previous day.

 

He goes into a corner room that seems to be too small for him to stand straight but when he goes in, he feels steps that are not there. After several disorienting moments, he climbs down the stairs, and finds himself in the past. He is outside in sunshine and the whole world has changed.

 

He goes and comes back dazed and finds that every time he goes, he goes to the same time, and no one else out there has any memory of him and the same events happen again and again like Groundhog Day (the movie) and that the only way he can change the dialog is if he asks something else the next time.

 

Al says that you can go and change things, and given the time he goes in, the best is to attempt to thwart the assassination of JFK.  Al talks about meeting Oswald close up where he tormented his absolutely gorgeous wife and was generally a bully.

 

He explains how he saved a girl from an existence in wheelchair by averting the shooting accident and also it is interesting to see how, every time you go down the portal, it is a total reset.

 

Jake wants to try to save Hoptoad Harry from the accident that befell his family as an experiment before he agrees to go change history. He goes down the portal with fake ID and cards and cash.

 

The description of the difference between 2005 America and 1958 America are really interesting. The storytelling power of Stephen King, which never ceases to amaze me, really shows here.

 

He goes and tracks the father Dunning, whom he finds with difficulty, befriending two youngsters dancing. He goes to the supermarket and finds that Frank is a charming man and a butcher. He follows him to his rented apartment.

 

When he tries to plan his attack on Frank and bivouacs outside the Dunning house on Halloween, he is surprised by Duffy who, it turns out, had his sister married to Frank and suspects him of having murdered her and covered it up. He manages to outwit him and due to this, is late to the rescue and sees the wife’s hand crushed and one of the kids dead. He manages to save the others but gets scalped in the process and rescued by Duffy.

 

He returns and checks the altered history. No Hoptoad Harry in the school as a janitor anymore. But when he reaches her sister after a long search, he learns that Harry was killed in Vietnam after enlisting in the army. Back he goes again, and this time takes care of Dunning by shooting him before he even gets a chance to go to his family to kill. Then he goes to save a crippled girl from accidental shooting.

 

He does it by having the husband teach him a card game. And then he goes to Dallas. Here, for a bit, the story sags. He gets involved in a school play and brings out the best in kids.

 

He falls in love with Sadie, a new teacher who is still finalizing her divorce with a bad man. When the man disfigures Sadie and is killed by him, he misses seeing Lee take a potshot at General Walker and miss. He then tells partially the truth to Sadie and takes her to a boxing match to prove his predictions. The story sags with details of who did what before Kennedy assassination but if you are bored, plough through it. It is only a small but and even there you have interesting bits like the the parallel story of Sadie, and the relationship between her and Jake. It gets better and better and towards the end, it is truly gripping.

 

His betting habits catch up with him when he is caught at his home alone by thugs hired by the betting Mafia. He loses his memory and as Kennedy visit nears, the tension ratchets up with his struggle to even remember what he had to do. Nice. His car breaks down and he narrowly avoids getting killed. Then a big accident in a bus and he survives.

 

They hijack an old car and proceed. He just manages to thwart Oswald but in the melee Sadie gets hit and dies. He goes back to reset everything when he meets the ‘green card man’.  That explanation is just amazing. That part makes up partly for all the saggy bits of the story. In fact you realize that the story is not about Kennedy at all.

 

From there the entire story and his struggle to do the ‘right thing’ and the sacrifice he has to make for it, and the ending are all top class. Just for the saggy bits, I am going to reduce the rating to a 7/10

 

  – – Krishna

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Book: The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 7:40 pm

imageAnother book in the Saxon series from Bernard Cornwell. This follows the earlier books –   The Last KingdomThe Pale Horseman , The Lords of The NorthThe Sword Song. The Burning Land, The Death of Kings and The Pagan Lord.

Initially, in this book, the narrator is the son Uhtred of the narrator of all the previous stories. Times have moved on and Uhtred Sr is very old so the son takes over the narration of youthful battles and adventures. You really miss the old Uhtred because you have sort of travelled with him all this way and to find a different man talking to you, even though it is the same author’s voice and style feels like something is missing.

 

Uhtred, from now on the Jr one, defeats the Viking Hans with a plan hatched by Aethelflad, the queen and Alfred’s daughter. It is fun to see Aethelflad described as ugly and vicious, and the Uhtred boy wondering what his father sees in her.

 

He brings the treasure and Haki only for the treasure to be confiscated by men of Aethelred, the ailing regent of Mercia and the husband of Aethelflad. He meets his father at the inn and the familiar Uhtred continues the story!

 

He is called to see a different lord (Eardwulf) marrying Aethelred’s (and Aethelflad’s) daughter. A spy, Priest Penda, tells him that he has been called here not to witness or protest but to get him out of the way while they planned to kidnap Aethelstan who was in his custody. He feigns grave illness and rushes back.

 

Nice scenes of a priest hitting his daughter in the mouth and how she kills him. Also nice scenes of how the Aethelhelm’s men are defeated by son Uhtred. Bernard seems to improve over the years as he narrates more tales. This one is really breathtaking. Then they all retire to a different location, fearing Aethelhelm’s revenge.

 

He then goes to rescue Aethelflad’s daughter whom her husband has betrothed to an evil man Eardwulf. Takes his daughter who has a plan to kidnap the girl but finds that King Edward is attending the wedding with his army. He gets the girl and runs towards Aethelflad before realizing that the enemy is outflanking him and coming at his puny army with a massive force.

 

When Aethelflad saves him he realizes that she also does not have enough army to stop the ambitious man Eardwulf from killing both of them, he lays a trap for the man. He succeeds in sending him to exile. He claims the loyalty of her sister, who cures him of his wound when he finds the sword that had injured him earlier. He realizes that Caester is under attack and goes back to save it.

 

He tricks Styggyr in a trap and takes him as hostage after making him lose an eye.  Keeping him as a hostage, he forces the Danes to depart. Then kills the great Dane, who is his enemy all along.

 

The story ends with a nice twist. Bernard has done it again. Beautiful narration and good, gripping, story.

 

8/10

–   –   Krishna

September 2, 2018

Book: Brothers to Shadows by Andre Norton

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:24 pm

imageAndre Norton, or Alice Mary Norton to give her her real name, was a legend in science fiction, having won several awards and having started writing from 1934. This is her return to fiction after several years’ absence.

 

A group (‘brothers’)  meets Shagga, the  priest. He announces that the Master is dead and the two chief assistants kill themselves. Shagga hates an outlander Jofre who was adopted by the Master and throws him out of the Brotherhood, after distributing all others to other Brotherhoods.  Jofre, though, ends up finding a power crystal in an abandoned place and thwarts the bird that Shagga sent after him. Next a more powerful bird (? spirit?) is sent after him.

 

Ras Zarn, a merchant, sends a Lady who is the best he has after a secret mission.  In the meanwhile he also enlists the help of The Lady, the most powerful assistant, but she declines and goes.

 

The story gets more interesting when Joffre meets Zurzal of the Zacathan race, a lizard like beings. He rescues him from an attack by unknown enemies and discovers that his arm is regrowing after being cut off. He swears an oath to him to help him.

 

But both are appealed to by the evil lord for help. Zurzal is experimenting with time travel and the man wants his secret. When Zurzal refuses politely they both are overwhelmed, kidnapped and thrown into a spaceship. In the same ship is a female, issha trained spy as well.

 

He is taken to the Holder, who seems to have usurped power illegally, as gathered by Joffre.

He attempts to demonstrate the time machine to holder and survives an assassination attempt.

 

When the next time Zruzal is asked to demonstrate he shows how the current Holder earned his place through assassination, which causes a riot and the rebels capture the Holder. Zurzal, Joffre and the girl all seek the protection of the Patrol. When they try to unlink Jat from the Holder, they inadvertently link it to themselves (both) thus forming a bond. Jewelbright and Joffre now share a bond and he tells her that he is no longer a recognized Brother.

 

They go and collect weapons from a scrap heap dealer. They are being watched and Jewelbright is given orders to watch both Zurzal and Joffre. She is conflicted. In the meanwhile, Joffre spots a tail who stands out so much that he is amazed.

 

They hitch a ride to a barren planet. Then things move fast but it all ends abruptly and with no particular premeditation of the plot, it would seem.

 

Does it read well? Maybe for a moment, maybe in parts. But a simple story, insufficiently woven into any kind of a great story.

 

Does not make you wonder afterwards, like for instance, the Game of Thrones series does.

 

Just a 4/10 I would think.

–   –  Krishna

Book: Santorini by Alistair MacLean

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:14 pm

imageAlistair MacLean writes well, has a penchant for aristocratic language which nevertheless did not seem odd even in the eighties when he was at his peak. In addition, the twists and turns keep coming and keep you turning the pages. Normally.

 

He himself is an interesting person. He is the son of a Scottish minister. English was learnt as a second language (after Gaelic, his mother tongue). He worked as a teacher in England. He also, suddenly, decided to stop writing and run a hotel business in England. Three years later, he returned to his writing.

 

Alistair can also be unpredictable. Some of his books are excellent – The Guns of Navarone or Force 10 from Navarone , for example, or Where Eagles Dare and some can be downright boring and I am not even talking about his last novels like The Way To Dusty Death which was a disaster. Even things like Ice Station Zebra seemed to drone on and on.  Where does this book stand? Let us see.

 

First, I will keep an open mind and will not judge it by when it was written. (This was the last book published by him).

 

The story starts interestingly enough.

 

A ship is in flames and sinking and a plane, which could be a military plane (Did it attack the ship?) or civilian, also is sinking. A British naval ship goes to investigate with O’Rourke, aristocratic Lieutenant McCafferty (who is an electronics genius), Van Gelden and the boss Talbot. They realize that the downed plane was a US plane on a secret mission.

 

The cat and mouse game begins with the survivors in the submarine and a mysterious death of chef and engineer in the engine room.

 

Experts come in a hurry from Washington and we learn that the plane that drowned was American, carrying nuclear weapons (including a Hydrogen bomb inside). I will give this much to Alistair. He knows his facts. He makes a character correctly mention that the hydrogen weapon’s fusion is started off by the fission of a normal atom bomb within it.

 

Lots of blather about how seismic activity can trigger a mega explosion. Then comes suspicions about the oh so clean skipper of the vessel, which is interesting. But too much conversation about technical mechanical things that get boring after a while, despite his characteristic light veined, aristocratic humour running through it.

 

The President of USA promises to help. Lots of fresh blather about how brave and knowledgeable and reliable everyone is and how mysterious Andropoulos is. It is funny how when Van Gelder is asked to use his charms to learn secrets from the pretty woman on board, he behaves. Unbelievably corny and unnatural in the context of the modern world.

 

They all learn the Andropoulos is perhaps involved in arms smuggling as well as drug smuggling.

 

I tried to keep an open mind but all those excruciating details about pulling up a plane by a pulley and careful measurements and markings and moves etc.. No, this is not a great story to read

 

The ending is full of twists, vintage Alistair McLean. However, it is too much of a travel to reach there. Thank God it is a small book.

3/ 10

–  – Krishna

 

August 30, 2018

Book: Warcraft by Chris Metzen

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:38 pm

imageCannot place this book. Are we to take this childish tale seriously? Does it think it is in the same genre as The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien? Or is it a tongue in cheek satire on the genre? I don’t know. It obviously does not read like a satire so I guess it is a mediocre tale told, from all accounts.

 

Lord Palladon Tirion Fording is a just, strong, able, governor of a fief. He is riding through Hearthglen woods, in deep thought about signs of war starting again in the Empire.

 

He comes across an aged Orc. When a building collapses around him, he is rescued by the orc and left unconscious.

 

When he realizes that he was tied to a horseback when found by his colleagues, he is troubled by the notion that one of the savage species can be so benevolent. After calming down his subordinates who are riled up, he goes to the ruins alone to investigate and meets the selfsame orc.

 

He realizes that the Orc, Ertrigg, is a good one, and is living alone exiling himself from the mislead Orcs. He gives word that Ertrigg’s secret is safe with him and faces flak trying to defend the secret, from his advisors, from his wife Karandra, from a hothead called Barthilias.

 

When he is forced to take his friend and superior to the place and the Orc is tortured, he stands up for it and is arrested as a traitor. He refuses to give up defending the arc and so loses his light and is excommunicated for his pains. Barthilias, the brash, vicious deputy becomes the governor of the province in his stead.

 

The story has a cardboard feel to it. He goes to rescue the orc with no plans in mind and no preparations. He is saved by fortuitous events. Everyone there is melodramatic. Good is all good and evil (for instance Barthilias) is all evil.

 

The author was a game designer and is behind the very famous War of the Worlds game and the book feels equally superficial as the game.  The game enthralls because of the visuals and action. The book feels toyish at the same level.

Interesting to read? Yes, kind of. Thought provoking? Absolutely not.

 

3/ 10

–   –  Krishna

Books : How Physics Confronts Reality by Roger G Newton

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:27 pm

imageFascinating, I thought when I started the book. It looked like this is one of those books that bring the excitement of physics alive for the lay reader. But your enthusiasm wanes pretty fast and and the book glides down to the mundane lever.

This book is all about physics and quantum theory. There are other books that we have reviewed on the same subject, but this has a different slant. For instance, the discussion of quantum here is completely unlike anything else. And there are some very interesting tidbits there too.

Quantum was proposed by Max Planck. How? First of all, he saw that a heated iron changed colours in discrete bands. He suggested that the radiation goes in specific amounts. And he supplied a constant (called Planck’s constant from then on) to account for the discrete amount. He thought he was supplying an artificial constant just to get the math right. Later quantum theory established that this is the fundamental nature of things!

Another nugget : When Einstein was 25 in 1905 and working at the Patent Office in Switzerland, he submitted three seminal papers. He considered only one of them as revolutionary. It had to do with the photoelectric effect. What about one of the remaining two papers? One was his Theory of Relativity! Imagine! (However, this paper also became important in establishing the particle nature of light which he had already called quanta in the paper, later on ).

The main issue is that it descends into heavy technology with mathematical formulae and loses you part of the way through. As soon as it climbs out of that confusing equations, and gets interesting, it drops you into another technical mumbo jumbo to the point that you lose the momentum.

Einstein was not happy with the Quantum theory and put up objections after objections with Neils Bohr deflating all of it. Finally Einstein said that even though the facts fit, there will be a ‘fuller’ theory that comes along that will set everything right and this is just a partial manifestation of that theory. Which is why he was looking for a Universal Theory that explains all for the rest of his life with no success.

A small portion of the book is interesting, and despite many other books on the same subject, informative with new perspectives. But most of the book is cryptic and heavily tilted towards mathematics that will be beyond most novices.

There are some interesting pieces like how they figured out magnetism is a wave and a force (shape of iron filings around a magnet) but this could have been made a lot more interesting with a different treatment.

The inference of muons, bosons and fermions is interesting but still complex. The of how the scientists figured out all that invisible stuff like protons, neutrinos, antiprotons etc is interesting and new but the complex explanations do not help if you, like me, are new to this world and a lay person to boot.  And even if you, like me, are determined to plough through difficult subjects and not give up.

 

4/10

–   – Krishna

 

 

August 26, 2018

Book: The Mistress of The Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 5:32 pm

imageInitially, I thought it was a disjointed, rambling, book. If you do too, have patience. It all comes together beautifully shortly and you will be rewarded with a great story for your perseverance.

 

It also turns out that this is the start of a series by the same name.

 

What it does well is mingle modern forensic concepts with a historical tale and does it very well.

 

Prior Gregory in a procession. He and the prioress do not see eye to eye. This is England in the Eighteenth century.

Scene change.

 

Henry II is livid with the collections from his realm not being enough. In the meanwhile infants are being murdered in his palace by someone.  Henry II asks the Jewish administrator Aaron to find out who is killing the babies in the palace – failure to do so would result in expulsion of all Jews from England (which is one of the only safe havens for them in the world).

Scene change.

Gordinus, the African medicine man is met by Moredecai, the principal secretary of the King of Spain. Moredecai is furious when he learns that the worst possible escort is sent with Simon Menham of Naples when he was sent to England.

Scene Change. Prior Gregory is dying. Adelia, a medicine woman, is nearby. She decided to save the prior even if failure would mean their deaths with the antagonistic disciples.

 

It is enough to make your head spin. Finally, when Adelia tries unconventional remedy for prior who cannot pee and is in agony, the story really takes off. A bit.

 

They have come to investigate the child murders. She is an expert in biopsy to figure out how they died. When Sir Rowley turns nosey, she keeps him there helping her! Finally they realize that the killer must have seen them and then moved the bodies from where he had buried them, which is the limestone covered hill that they trekked through.

 

The additional background of a woman doctor masquerading as an assistant to a “doctor” who is really her assistant, due to the chauvinistic nature of England, the primitive beliefs of the local people which causes frustration to Adelia, her passion for medicine – all add considerable colour to an already interesting story.

 

She learns that the first boy was left on Chaim’s lawn – and they decided to get rid of it in the sewers out of fear that the Jews will be blamed – and got hanged for his pains. Question is : Why his house, which was well lit and was in the midst of a party, while several Jewish houses were in darkness and also more accessible?

 

She goes to a party decked up and resplendent. When she learns that Simon has been killed, the whole thing strikes close to home. She realizes that he has been murdered by being pushed underwater and held there until he drowned.

 

Rowley Picot reveals that he is also after the same killer, who had killed in Arab lands and was called Rakshasa as a nickname. Rowley is almost killed defending Simon’s grave from the zealous Christians and wins the love of Adelia. The story of Picot, how he left two hostages and found one on the tree and the other used in despicable ways by Rakshasa are fantastic. How he traces him to Cambridgeshire (the mynah’s accent!) is fabulous. Great book. Absorbing.

 

When Ulf goes missing, Adelia crumbles. Picot is injured in a melee and is saved by the dedication of Adelia and he realizes that he loves her.

 

Fabulous descriptions, amazing twist near the end when Adelia discovers the den of the Rakshasa where her beloved Ulf has been kidnapped and kept only to be knocked unconscious and wakes up chained to the wall. What follows is an encounter with a masked Rakshasa that is very creepy. She barely escaped and uncovers another treachery.

 

Even after Rakshasa was unmasked and killed, her battle to prove the guilt of the accomplice continues. When all else seems lost, Henry of Plantaganet makes a dramatic appearance. She refuses the hand of Rowley, the only man she loved, to continue tending to the sick but Gyltha solves that problem for Rowley by an ingenious piece of advice.

 

Very well written a fine yarn that includes strands of love, mystery all served up in a medieval background. Superb.

 

9/10

 

– – Krishna

Book: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 5:23 pm

imageNice. She talks about gender inequality that lingers even after decades of attempts to get women equal status and rights in the US – judging from the corporate success. Simple examples of how she never thought of parking spots for pregnant women until she herself became pregnant and experienced the  difficulties of parking far, and others get you right away. She has an easy, self deprecating and therefore endearing style in talking about serious gender discrimination issues.

 

I agree that women are being discriminated even after all the struggle over the years and they should get equal treatment but bringing flawed logic in support grates. For instance here is the argument. For each dollar men got women used to get 59 cents forty years ago and despite all the struggles for equality “now” (that is when the book was written) they get 77 cents for every dollar. She quotes someone saying, in jest no doubt, “Forty years and eighteen cents. A dozen eggs have gone up ten times that amount!”  Hang on a minute. We are not comparing absolute salaries. If we did the increase would be much more than 17 percent, more than the eggs. A more apt comparison would be that if the price of white eggs vs brown eggs had gone up 170% (or even 17%) then it would be astonishing. Somehow I do not think it did.  Totally flawed logic like this grates.

 

She goes on and on about how women suffer from a complex of self confidence. Interesting the first three times but then you yawn.

 

She keeps giving women advice to get rid of what she calls innate self doubt and grab opportunities with both hands. A lot of examples, a lot of studies quoted, a lot of personal examples, so much so that this feels a bit like an autobiography. Interesting, but not fascinating stuff.

 

She talks about how opportunities arrive unannounced and how you want to grab them. She talks about mentoring. There are some really good points about women and what is holding them back. Definitely she does not support glass ceilings or conspiracy theories, which is good.

 

Even if you are not a woman, this gives you a good perspective on what is holding them back. I was pleasantly surprised by the conversational style, which is effective. However, the advice is commonsense and you don’t come out with a profound understanding of new insights. There are no ‘aha’ moments in the book, at least not for me.

 

Her comments about mentoring and the difficulties it causes women to be mentored without other aspects like sexual interest associated with it in the minds of others is interesting.

 

She talks about women giving up career choices because of the long term plan to have children way before it happens.

 

The book really comes into its own and provides new and useful information when Sheryl points out the gender inequality at house help (not news to any of us) but how to tackle it, and why it should be dealt with even when the kids are about grown up and are about to leave the nest – it influences them and their children next when they set up their family. Nice point. Very real.

 

Also nice is the fact that everyone assumes it is done and equality has been achieved only to find in real workplace that it is not really there still. She has a point about how even well meaning men and women (yes women too) have this cultural baggage from which they are unable to free themselves, and even are unaware of it.

 

It is interesting that Sheryl does not argue that every woman should aspire to the corporate ladder or that more men should stay at home. She just says that men and women both should be free to choose and also quotes her mom who moved from career to housewife to woman involved in charity and how much she respects her mother. Nice.

 

But you notice that Sheryl had a privileged life but freely admits that it was easier for her to choose to lean in because of her support system all through her life, including money. But still the message comes across clearly and you cannot disagree with her arguments.

 

A readable book.   5/ 10

 

–  –  Krishna

 

August 4, 2018

Book: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:07 pm

imageJane Austin is known best for her Pride and Prejudice, of course, but this one is almost as well known.  I liked the other one, as you can see from the review.

 

Is this as good as the other one? Read on.

 

It has the style (‘stile’ as the author spells it) and feel of the more famous Pride and Prejudice. It also has similar construction and so feels like a lightweight Pride and Prejudice. It is written in the same old style where characters speak very formally and pedantically. But for all that, the story is almost as good.

 

John Dashwood inherits a fortune and ill-treats his step mother and his step sisters. His wife is even meaner and stops him from giving the measly aid that he thought of giving. The stepmom has three daughters. Elinor falls in love with a spineless but rich man with no taste and her sister Marianne does not like Edward, the boy.

 

When they move over to another part of the country they meet Sir John Middleton, chivalrous but very chatty, Lady Middleton who is boring, Mrs Jennings, the mother of Lady Middleton who was rather crude and ribald and the “old” (he was thirty five after all) Colonel Brandon, reserved and polished, who makes an impression in young Marianne’s mind as he listens to her sing.

 

In the meanwhile Marianne goes out to the hills, injures her leg in the rain and is carried home by a dashing young man called Willoughby. Her sister feels sorry for Colonel Brandon.

 

Meanwhile, suddenly Willoughby disappears without explanation and a crying Marianne refuses to explain.

 

Edward from the original family comes to visit and is secretly in love with Elinor. And they learn that the boy from the home they left is not planning to marry Elinor but a frumpy, stupid blond woman.

 

Elinor learns of Colonel Brandon’s story from him himself when he visits her and finds Marianne distraught. He was in love with Eliza,  a girl he grew up with, but she was forced to marry his brother. They planned to elope but were betrayed by a maid. He was banished and she married his brother in a loveless and abusive marriage. She ran away and “led a life of sin”. Brandon had enlisted in the army to give her space and found, upon his return, her missing. He finally finds her in a sanatorium, penniless and about to die of consumption. After looking after her, he adopts her only daughter (conceived in sin) and brings her up. She was seduced and left helpless by Willoughby.

 

You have to get past the old language. Leave aside exotic spellings given like ‘expence’ or ‘croud’. You have to remember that a character saying ‘I have always been gay’ means something totally different from what you would understand from a contemporary novel.

 

Well, Willoughby is exposed and Marianne is crushed. Elinor is done great favours by Colonel Brandon and still she does not understand that he loves her. When Marianne is near death’s bed and Brandon goes to get Elinor’s mother, Willoughby visits her and presents his side of the story.

 

Everything ends well but has a feel of abrupt ending. Everything works out very well suddenly, in the last fifteen pages or so. There is that old world outlook where Marianne almost dies when she is jilted. The main surprise is Willoughby’s confession and how the book ends.

 

Not a bad book to read considering when this was written and if you enjoyed Pride and Prejudice you will like it.

 

7/ 10

 

–  –  Krishna

Book: Devil in A Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 12:54 pm

imageEasy Rawlins meets a white man in a black bar. The man seems to be a dangerous person, and his friend the bartender introduces them and says that the stranger has a ‘job for Easy’. He is Dewitte Albright and seems to be a person ‘who does whatever jobs are that need done’ and is recruiting Easy to help him. Despite serious misgivings, Easy (Ezekiel really) decides to take up the job to get money to pay for his mortgage.

 

He goes to meet Albright and is asked to find a lady called Daphne. He goes to a bar where Daphne was seen last. It is a black bar and hidden (illegal) and only who know them are let in. It was Easy’s old stomping ground and so they all know him. How convenient.

 

Easy meets an old buddy and his scheming girlfriend Corrina, who tries to seduce him before saying that Daphne is her friend and she does not like her being investigated.

 

When he is hauled into the police station and released, he learns that Corrina has been killed. Then Daphne herself calls him.

 

Boring, boring, boring. The story of how black folks fear police and are being totally uncomfortable in white areas makes its point but the story sucks. It has the tenor of being written by a child.

 

He goes with Daphne to the house of a man called Richard, only to find Daphne fleeing. He is interrogated by police and comes back to find a very mad Albright who commands him to find an accomplice.

 

He goes in search of Albright’s boss when he realizes that he will not be left alive and the boss turns out to be a childlike man with enormous wealth.

 

He treats him nicely. Easy’s character is puzzling; Easy seems to play the victimhood always. If he is not treated right, it is a natural white prejudice but if they do, that means they don’t even pay attention to them to realize that he should not be treated equally.  To them he is just like furniture. (Wait, what?)

 

It gets even more boring. Mouse aka Raymond Alexander makes his appearance and everyone seems to be running here and there, harassed by white people and trying to avoid them, harassed by cops and afraid of them, not doing much of sleuthing anyway. I don’t see the point of the whole story because it sure is not meant as a social commentary, it does not hold your curiosity, there are no big twists in the story – so what did the author intend?

 

Pointless, stupid ending – at least that is in line with the rest of the book.

 

2/ 10

–  –  Krishna

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