A la Debussy!

It may not be one of the greatest books, maybe out of print and may not even be about the best musician on the planet(though for some he definitely is!), but nonetheless, it is one marvellous novel that must be read.

Taken from goodreads.com

Clair De Lune‘ written by Pierre La Mure is a biography of France’s best musician and composer, Claude Debussy. Before you stop reading the review further because the word ‘biography’ has put you off, I must tell you that the biography is very much a novel, a story of his life rather than a collection of boring essays of Debussy’s life by other people.It is written beautifully tracing Debussy’s life from his birth to his eventual/sad death. La Mure wrote about Debussy’s life like a intricate story so much so that the reader is one with Debussy in his travails and success.

There is not much in the sense of a plot in the novel which is quite obvious as Pierre is writing about a true, famous French musician and not a fictional character.  Yet I will give you a short summary. The book starts with his aunt and her reflection of her motherly love for Debussy. She recalls his birth and how she convinced his parents to let him stay with him in Paris. His aunt recognized his talent and arranged piano lessons for him. His musical talent got him admission in the Paris Conservatoire. He even won the Prix De Rome. However, because of the difficult and experimental nature of his music, Debussy wasn’t able to impress many composers who dismissed his work as difficult to play. Debussy therefore continued to struggle and remain in poverty partly because of this and partly because he did not grab opportunities when he saw them and was not business minded. It was only after his opera’s performance,’Pelleas et Mesilande’, that Debussy tasted success and his music was appreciated. He was finally able to uplift himself from his crushing poverty. He died in 1918 in the middle of World War I due to cancer. Mixed with his musical life is his very colourful love life. He had affairs with several women which is greatly described in the book.

How much is truth and how much is dramatization in this biography I cannot judge. However, I am guessing that the love affairs that have been focused and etched out so vividly have definite touches of fiction, probably given to increase the reader’s curiosity and make them want to buy his novel. And that is one of the negative points in the book. It tends to focus more on his turbulent affairs than his music. He comes across as a womanizer than as a composer because of this. The book does mention that music was his first love but this love is never demonstrated elaborately. His music is relegated to the margins quite often which is quite disappointing. (Though it is quite fun reading pages and pages of love making he had with his love interests!) Another very disappointing aspect is that the novel exalts Debussy, creates a perfectness in him that is impossible in any individual, justifies all his actions and portrays him as a victim(particularly when it comes to his mean actions with his love interests).

Besides all these drawbacks, ‘Clair De Lune‘ is a breathtaking work, a beautifully crafted biography that ignites the life and times of the great misfit musician. It pulls the reader into the bygone latter years of the 19th century, paints a stunning, opulent, luxurious,enchanting picture of France and Paris and other European places that Debussy visits. The emotional ups and downs, the tempestuous love affairs, the harrowing poverty, the fantastical music moments and the astonishing success seep into the reader making it difficult to tear oneself away from the book’s magic and come back to the dreary,music-less 21st century world!

Clair De Lune‘ is a novel that is not to be missed. One does not need to be a music expert to read Claude Debussy’s life story. The book never throws a lot of confusing music jargons that laypeople won’t understand. One can however, fall in love with his music because of this novel and that won’t be futile as his music is pretty darn good with its melting, lilting, dreamy qualities. It is sure to be a heart stirring experience!

Do check out this book and his wonderful music. They are both worth the time and money!

Reader Not In Love!

Love is complex, we all know but definitely not as complex as D.H. Lawrence makes it to be in his gigantic novel, ‘Women In love.’ Not only is it massive, but Lawrence just makes every idea extremely complex which makes it quite difficult to read the novel. Infact when it came out in the 1920s’ people then also said that they found the book too difficult to read. And it definitely is even till now because I forced myself to finish the book as I hate leaving books unfinished no matter how bad they are.

Taken from goodreads.com

Ok, first, lets clear one misconception that one gets because of the title: ‘Women In Love’ is not a book about lesbian love! It does have references to homosexuality but it is definitely not the main focus!

Now that that’s cleared up, let us go to the plot. ‘Women In Love‘ begins with two sisters, Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen who discuss about marriage. The former is a teacher while the latter is an artist. They live in Midlands in England and on one occasion, the sisters meet two men, Gerald Crich- an industrialist who owns coal mines- and Rupert Birkin who is a school inspector. There is also Hermione Granger um sorry I mean Hermione Roddice who was a love interest of Rupert. These five become sort of friends who practically do nothing except discuss difficult, intellectual things that helps them in no way to make a head or tail out of the issue they are discussing. These discussons seem to be the only thing they do beside attending parties and all that!!! They are profound at times, not the parties I mean, but the discussions, but get really boring because the plot doesn’t move forward quick enough. Ursula falls in love with Rupert while Gudrun falls in love with Gerald but the quartet is too thick headed to admit they are in love and go about having rambling, pointless discussions before even admitting it!!! I dont even know how Ursula and Birkin end up getting married but they do(Somehow!). Meanwhile Gudrun and Gerald are vacationing in the Alps. I think it is over there that Gudrun strikes a friendship with Loerke, a fellow artist from Dresden.

Loerke is my favorite character in the novel. He is quirky and so witty. Well, he is quirky in a good way! All the other characters are also quirky but in a stupendously intellectual,boring, complex,roundabout manner! Loerke is direct and straightforward and has no pretensions!

Well, now we are digressing! Well  I am not giving  away the end of the book because it is would be truly a spoiler to tell you all what happened to the quartet’s love story. Go read the end for yourselves!

Women In Love‘ was not an enjoyable book and I labored really hard to complete it. D.H Lawrence threw several complex notions and ideas about so many things with Rupert being his mouthpiece. His writing is very Victorian despite it being written in 1920s. But that is the best part of the book-his writing. The descriptive style makes so many things in the book come alive such as the quartet’s intimacy, their perplexity over life and love, their constant discussions,the industrial cum countryside setting, the parties and the best part-Gudrun’s friendship with Loerke.

Women In Love‘ does question a lot of things mainly at least the notions of love with a woman and a man. Then the process of industrialization seen through the eyes of Gerald. There is almost a Futurist fascination with machines and Gerald in general comes across as a misanthrope. Changes in the aaspects of British countryside brought about by industrialization are also pointed out through Gudrun and Ursula’s conversations and will be more pronounced if one reads, ‘Rainbow’ before reading this novel as the former is a prequel to the latter. Women’s empowerment is also sketched out but still the two women protagonists are more or less dependent on the men but they still are quite bold, strong characters.

I would not recommend ‘Women In Love’ namely because it is tedious, slow in pace and tooooo much strain on the brain!!!! Although any voracious reader is free to take it up!