A Man Called Ove: Fredrik Backman

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A sad-funny account of a lonely old man who wants to die, but can’t kill himself for one reason or another.  Then, a pregnant immigrant woman and her family move in the neighborhood and give his life a meaning.  It is a touching story for the most part and Ove’s loneliness is heart-breaking.  The writing is witty, and humorous in parts.  What I particularly enjoyed were Backman’s conjectures of what the cat might be thinking when it gives certain looks.  Along the way, towards the second half of the book, the book gets a bit predictable, as Ove adds a bunch of characters to his team.

Read

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A Gentleman In Moscow: Amor Towles

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An aristocrat, Count Alexandre Rostov, is put under house arrest in Moscow, in Hotel Metropol, after the Bolshevik revolution.  He learns to live there and makes the hotel his world.  It is an interesting premise and the novel begins promisingly.  A cheerful middle-aged man easily making peace with his much-diminished status.  The first half has mystery, philosophy (after an encounter with an actress, he gets treated with disdain and becomes invisible), and pace.  However, the second half is disappointing.  Whereas his interactions with Nina, a little girl living in the hotel, were heart-warming, the story of Nina’s daughter being raised by him, the admiration she receives from his colleagues is a bit pollyanish.  There is a stray chapter on Andre with no follow-up.  The end is not quite clear – his motivation in getting Sofia to France and himself to be out of the hotel is not etched clearly.

Don’t bother.

There is a tide in the affairs of man, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune…’

A review of ‘The Jasmine Bloom’ by Author Aruna Ghose.

‘There is a tide in the affairs of man, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune…’ However, in the case of Sameer Chadha, the protagonist of Jasmine Bloom, certain decisions that had inadvertently been taken lead to a series of incidents that turn his life upside down.

On the surface, Sameer’s life seems ideal—a good job, devoted wife and two bright and loving daughters. Yet, he is dissatisfied and wants more, both at work and at home. A new, more prestigious job description and a wife who is more communicative and supportive.

Enter Ritu, a colleague who has her own set of problems and frustrations—an abusive husband and an autistic son.

When their lives collide, events spiral out of control—his wife dies. At more or less the same time, his work-life unravels and he finds himself the victim of a Machiavellian plot that discredits him and forces him to resign.

Without a wife and a job, Sameer is faced with the dilemma of how to cope as an unemployed single parent as well as reclaim his reputation in the professional world.

The reader follows Sameer’s misfortunes with bated breath, wanting to know if his bad luck will continue (and at times it looks as if it will) or whether he will pull himself out of the morass he’s in.

But what really draws the reader in are the descriptions of Delhi, the minutiae of daily life in a small, well-knit family, reminisces of college life, and all the other little nuances that contribute to making this a compelling work of fiction.

This is probably because of the author’s ability to weave a good story and his skill of breathing life into each of the main characters. Each has been vividly portrayed with all their quirks and contradictions, so much so that the reader identifies with Sameer and his family, suffering with them and cheering at every piece of good news.

It is extremely well written and the humourous and empathetic prose is often interspersed with rather good poetry (the author is a poet as well).

However, there are instances when some of the tragedies that engulf him (and to some extent Ritu) seem relentless and could have been avoided. From example, his younger daughter Pari’s hospitalization, harassment from the police on some non-essential issue to name a couple.

Despite the many adversities, the story has a feel-good quality about it, and the author should be congratulated for presenting such a remarkable first novel.

Available at:

https://www.amazon.in/Jasmine-Bloom-Rajat-Narula/dp/9387022013/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504595450&sr=8-1&keywords=the+jasmine+bloom

https://www.amazon.com/Jasmine-Bloom-Mr-Rajat-Narula/dp/9387022013/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505456792&sr=1-1&keywords=the+jasmine+bloom+rajat

 

Born A Crime: Trevor Noah

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Trevor Noah, the host of the Daily Show, and an irrepressible comic, tells us of his growing up in South Africa.  Born a crime, refers to his being the son of a white man and a black woman, a crime in the apartheid in South Africa.  It is an interesting story of never knowing where he belonged in a very race-conscious country that views everything from the race lens.  However, Noah is not particularly funny in narrating the story.  There are a few comical situations (as in most people’s lives), but the writing is ordinary.  South Africa is a fascinating country and I enjoyed learning more about the country.

Read, if you want to learn more about South Africa.

Sick In The Head: Judd Apatow

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Judd Apatow, the creator of movies like ‘Knocked-up’ and ’40 Year Old Virgin’ – who is also a stand-up comic, explores what makes the comedians funny through interviewing many of the all time greats including Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, Stephen Colbert, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Jay Leno.  The book is a compendium of sixty such interviews – some done when Apatow was still in high school, and some after he became a successful director.  Sick in the Head is not a funny book.  If you are looking for clever interactions with comedic geniuses , there are few of those.  However, the book does tell you a bit about comedians you have admired.  Why they turned to comedy, and how they honed their craft.

Read, if you are a comedy nerd and want to know more about your heroes.

 

A story of love, lust, ruin and resurrection: Review by September Queen

The Jasmine Bloom Creative Cover

A story of mid-life crisis, corporate politics, love , lust , ruin and resurrection.. The Jasmine Bloom by Author Rajat Narula , a strong recommendation if you want to taste something different than the usual romance!!
Please visit the blog to get a synopsis of the book review ..
http://theseptemberqueen.com/2017/12/03/the-jasmine-bloom/