A man, woman, and the other woman. The man dies without the wife finding out. It’s the theme – close to my book – that attracted me to the book. The man’s death is the starting point and the book slowly unfolds the story of the two families embroiled in the story. Not much happens is my first complaint. The book is a bit too chick-litty is my second. Too many moments where people control their feelings and nothing happens. Doesn’t seem very real world to me. I like the use of everyday of today – that came out well and told us the importance of keeping stories set in the right now world – not the world of ten or twenty years ago. The end was a nice twist – didn’t see it coming – and I like the book much better for it. Once again, reiterated to me the importance of a great ending.
So Rowling goes adult. And how. Gone is the magic of Hogwarts and Harry Potter. We are back in the real world. In the small town of Pagford where everyone knows everyone. But people are vicious to each other. Particularly parents to kids and as it turns out kids to parents. It seems Rowling retains a certain sympathy with her ex-primary audience – the kids. It’s a bit of a pattern of parents being mean to their kids. Despite a slow start, the story picks up pace quite quickly and then becomes a real gripper. Rowling has sold 450 million copies for a reason. Her characters are multidimensional and their behaviors, motivations and actions are compelling. In an earlier post, I made a comment about Eleanor Catton’s capability in creating characters with intricacies and layers. Rowling does that too. Gavin, Kyrstal, Mary Fairbrother and Miles are a few examples. The much talked about bad language? I didn’t find the book unusually profane – it had it’s share of ‘f’ words and sex but not more.
The first book of the trilogy that has sold a mind-boggling 2.7 million copies making its writer a big star. So is this really so good? Hard to answer if it deserves to sell 2.7 million copies but it certainly is an extraordinarily interesting book. Shiva lives in a small tribe near Mansarover lake and is brought into India to help the righteous Suryavanshis against the villainous Chandravanshis – only to discover – after a lot of bloodshed and mayhem – that its not all black and white. The world building is great, Shiva, very human – with both good and bad in him. The writing is weak, the attempts at humor onerous. But overall, the book works. You remember the vivid imagery and relate to the story at many levels – the story, the legend, and the spiritual. My biggest disappointment – after building up a lot of suspense Amish Tripathi doesn’t give us all the answers and wants us to read the 2nd part of the trilogy. Not fair I say. Have read trilogies before (Amitav Ghosh is the most recent example) but each book is complete in itself.
Recommendation: Read but be prepared for a bit of disappointment in the end.
A much recommended book on Amazon. The first part of the book is quite basic. Use simple words, vary the length of sentences and the like. The momentum picks up in the 2nd part where there is some insightful advice on building character, building tension, and the perennial: showing vs. telling. There is nothing new about the advice but the examples bring it to life. I enjoyed the Part 3 -> handbook on correct use of the language – there were plenty of surprises there.
Recommendation: Read if you are looking for a writing guide.
Another brilliant book from one of the most eminent story tellers of our times. It is not quite the caliber of ‘The Kite Runner’ or ‘A thousand splendid suns’ – and yet it is good enough to mesmerize the reader. Hosseini goes big this team both on Geography (the book traverses France, Greece and US besides Afghanistan) and period (it covers three generations). It succeeds with the bigger canvas – even though the Afghan portions are the most vivid. There are some problems. Too many intricate stories and too many characters do leave a few ends untied – the Afghan drug lord bit for instance. And Pari’s life in France is a long uninteresting narration. But it works overall. There are two things that stand out for me – some amazing insights (beauty is a tremendous gift distributed arbitrarily, stupidly) and multi layered characters – who carry out shocking actions – and yet endear themselves to the readers.