P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Love You‘ by Cecilia Ahern is an international romance bestseller. It makes for an enjoyable read.

Its a sweet and cute book which has a touch of hilarity, grief, fun as well as goodness. Holly Kennedy lost her childhood sweetheart and husband, Gerry due to brain tumor. Holly misses him like hell and feels her emotions overwhelming and confusing. She does not know how to live without Gerry. However, she learns to do that through her own understanding, her family and her best friends and a list that Gerry had prepared for Holly.

Its a breezy read, very easygoing(except dome parts where Holly is thoughtful about herself, her life and Gerry) with a light writing style. ‘P.S. I Love You‘ is not very descriptive but it is mostly active and happening with many events occurring in the book. The story is well laid out. It is a tad bit cliched but fortunately it is not about a guy and a girl stereotypically falling in love. Its an emotional story of a widow coping with an immense loss. Despite such a serious issue, the book is  surprisingly not very deep, in fact it is light and relaxing. It ends on a positive note which is heartening.

All chick lit fans will love ‘P.S. I Love You‘, they will be delighted in reading the book.

2 States-The Story of My Marriage

Chetan Bhagat is quite a good and popular author in India. His books have been bestsellers and his latest book, ‘2 States-the story of my marriage’ followed suit. So even if I give a bad review, people will still buy and read the book and that is the power of Chetan Bhagat’s popularity. Well, thankfully, my review is a mixed one. I enjoyed ‘2 States’. It is a pleasurable read.

In a nutshell, ‘2 States’ is a love story that blooms in the IIM(Indian Institute of Management), Ahmedabad. Krish falls in love with Ananya Swaminathan who is ‘the best girl in the fresher batch.’ After a few conversations and good, humourous pick up lines, Ananya starts liking Krish. They want to get married but alas! marriage in India is not that simple. Love marriages are a big no-no. What’s more, Krish is a Punjabi and Ananya is a Tamil Brahmin. An inter regional love marriage? That’s an even bigger no-no. The two are caught between their love and their families. They are resolute to marry with their families’ blessing. So will they be able to convince their families to let them marry each other? That’s what the story is about.

‘2 States’ is a witty book, quite hilarious. It is light, fun novel and written in a contemporary style which any urban Indian will connect to. ‘2 States’ excites the reader with its romantic angle but it is only mediocre. Don’t get me wrong, the book is good but just not that good. For once, it is highly predictable and I don’t mean only in terms of predicting a happy ending but also in terms of  predicting how Krish and Ananya convince their parents to accept their love. At one point in the novel, the entire plot becomes clear. Secondly, it is replete with stereotypes about South Indians and Punjabis.

So, in all, ‘2 States’ is a good, mediocre, fun read but really nothing more than that. The hilarity and the wittiness saves the book from being a disastrous romance novel!

Shantaram

Reading 933 pages of the ‘Shantaram‘ novel can be tedious especially when you do not have the time and are only reading 2 or 3 chapters per day. Nevertheless, ‘Shantaram‘ is an interesting novel. A novel that takes the reader through Mumbai’s ugliest places and the grim and the dust of the city to the paradise of Goa to the cold, brutal Afghan mountains.

Shantaram‘ I think is a partly true story of the author, Gregory David Roberts who escaped from an Australian prison. The novel speaks of his entry into the then Bombay and his journey through the city. The protagonist mingles with people in Leopold, is forced to stay in a slum, starts a clinic there and even comes to enjoy his life in the slum. He joins the mafia to earn cash, gets involved in gang war and the war in Afghanistan. He comes to love India and learns valuable lessons of life as well. The book ends on a hopeful message giving a grand message simultaneously.

Its a one of a kind novel where India in general and Mumbai in particular can be seen from a different perspective of a foreigner. India or Mumbai are neither degraded nor are they glorified unnecessarily but are portrayed objectively with plus and minus points. For once, it is good to see an author describing Mumbai’s slums, Arthur Road Jail etc. and not romantically babbling about only Marine Drive, Gateway or Taj. (I mean Mumbai is much more than those things).

On the other hand, the novel was a tad too long. Gregory Roberts could have easily shortened the story. There are a few loose ends like whether the author goes back to Australia or stays back in Mumbai and if he does, what does he do–be with the mafia or start something else. (Hopefully he will write a sequel soon with lesser pages though).

So I say that ‘Shantaram‘ is a good book but read it when you have all the time in the world. Reading the book slowly drags the story and takes the pace out of it.

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini is his first novel and it is simply extraordinary. It is rare to read a story about Afghanistan and even rarer for the that story to not be about war in Afghanistan. It is infact a story on deep friendship and love. ‘The Kite Runner‘ is a marvellous, honest story. It is a must read.

The two main protagonists- Amir and Hassan- are playful, fun loving kids living in the 1970s’ in Afghanistan. Amir is the son of a rich man while Hassan is the son of Amir’s servant, Ali. Despite that, Amir and Hassan are like brothers. They play together and frolic together and fly kites together . Hassan is an excellent kite runner and in the days when kite flying was a legal past time, it was a great talent to have. Amir, unlike his father, is not brave while Hassan can easily fend off bullies and other rascals bravely. Once in 1975, a shattering event occurs during the kite fighting tournament that alters both their lives. In 1981, Amir and his father move to America to flee from the violence in Afghanistan. Amir’s life is pretty secure then and he tries to forget that 1 event but it haunts him and it eventually makes Amir go back to Afghanistan to undo the wrong he had done back in 1975.

The Kite Runner‘ rendered me speechless. It is one of the best stories that I have read. It is immensely moving, emotional and heartbreaking. The splendid and beautiful description of prewar Afghanistan makes me realise how much the country has lost because of power, war and unending politics.

P.S. Do not watch the film, ‘Kite Runner‘ because it has none of the nuances and emotions in the book the touch the reader’s heart. It is quite a horrendous film. The book is thousand times better!

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God‘ by Zora Neale Hurston is undoubtedly her best known novel. Published in 1937, it is a singular story of a black woman protagonist, Janie Crawford and the significant changes in her life. To write a women centric novel in that era is an achievement worth being entitled to.

The novel starts with Janie returning to her second husband’s town, Eatonville, after having runaway with Tea Cake, a man who was younger to her. The townspeople start gossiping and advise Pheoby  Watson, Janie’s close friend, to find out what has happened to Janie. Then Janie begins telling her story to Pheoby: Janie was married at the age of 16 to Logan Killicks by her grandmother, Nanny, so that Janie could have the security of a home . However, Janie never fell in love with him and ran away with another fellow named Joe Starks. Joe was an ambitious man who made Janie move to a new town called Eatonville where he did all he could to make the town prominent. He brought land, opened a store there and became the mayor. He ordered Janie to take care of the store but Janie was quite unhappy with that job. After Joe’s death, Janie fell head over heels in love with Tea Cake who was younger to her. They both loved each another immensely and moved to the Everglades in Florida. After Tea Cake’s death, Janie returned to Eatonville.

The story goes in good flow. The most positive aspect of the book is Janie’s strong willed characterization. She is not portrayed as a damsel in distress but rather as an intelligent, well minded personality. It is a feminist book that highlights a woman’s thoughts, ideas and feelings as well as emotions and problems. Another plus point of  ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God‘ is the usage of a dialect. Zora Hurston has not used the language which you and I use but the dialect in which the southern blacks spoke. This lends to authenticity to the story(However some readers who are not able to read the dialect may find the story irritating and incomprehensible).

Nonetheless, ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ is an excellent book, and provides insightful perspective.

Oh Shit Not Again!

As I said in the post of ‘Keep Off The Grass’, that I love Indian writers and that there is something about their writing that I relate to. However with the book,’Oh Shit, Not Again!’ that is clearly not the case. Written by Mandar Kokate, it lacks in all departments-the storyline, the plot, writing style and the characterization. I will not recommend this book to anyone. The title says it all when it comes to the quality of the story. I wonder how it became a national bestseller.

The story is about four friends. Raj, Arti, Seema and Sam who get involved in all sorts of tricky situations form being caught watching porn or getting involved in murder. The story could have been better if the writing wasn’t so amateurish. It seems rather devoid of concreteness. The plot also fails miserably. It isn’t capturing, hilarious or twisted in any way. The characters have no depth except one or two major qualities. The story is also replete with numerous cliches and stereotypes. Raj’s character comes out not as a ‘flirt chap’ but as a complete pervert which is rather disconcerting.

Thus, Mandar Kokate should stick to civil engineering. He tries way too hard to sound like a writer in the book. And trust me, using big words doesn’t make one a writer. ‘Oh Shit, Not Again’ is a very poorly written book. I do not think it is worth reading. let alone buying!  So, just avoid it!

Outlook Traveller Getaways: Weekend Breaks From Mumbai

‘Outlook Traveller Getaways: Weekend Breaks From Mumbai’ is a marvelous little book highlighting the great tourist spots in and around Mumbai and Maharashtra. It is no doubt a great book for any travel lover in Mumbai.

The book screams out that there are numerous small, quick, hidden getaways right here in Maharashtra and that there is no need to travel far. The book is a comprehensive guide. It is divided according to regions like North and Central Konkan. Under each division are tourist places that come in that region. For eg. Daman in North Konkan or Karnala in Central Konkan etc. Each division has a map with a mention of the distance from Mumbai. Each entry of a tourist place had good, eye catching photos, an excellent overview of the place that includes places to see, eat and stay there as well as a small column listing quick facts about when to go and tourist office(MTDC) numbers. The book also has a special section dedicated to Goa and places to go around Mumbai like Vasai, Uran etc.

All in all, worth all the money, a great guide for a Mumbai traveler who wants to spend a weekend away from the hustle and bustle inexpensively.

MY VERDICT-Highly recommended for travelers!