Monsoon reading -2011

It was actually pre-monsoon days and yet it just rained and rained for hours together. Not that I mind too much, now that I don’t have to go to work or college in the downpour. That was always the saddest part, getting soaked in the morning and spending the whole day in damp clothes. Anyway, so I read all I could get my hands on, as if I woudn’t have done the same if the sun were shining; which incidently it did, almost 50% of the time.

Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens

I never knew Charles Dickens had written a book by this name and so when I saw a copy in my favourite shop I picked it up. It is long. You see even if you love your classics, reading them takes some adjustments to the writing style and the atmosphere they create and since dear Charles loved London so much, suddenly everything starts feeling grey and not-sunshiny anymore. The beginning of the book  itself is so bleak and almost horrifying that it might seem to turn people with heightened sensibilities off from reading the rest of it. A wind and rainswept night, a man and his daughter in a boat, pulling of all things a dead body tied by a rope behind the boat. I had to stop for two days before I could continue. However, the story progresses into a pretty love story with the usual collection of Dickens’ well formed and memorable characters. It is essentially a story of John Harmon, who returns to England following his miserly and almost cruel father’s death to take over his inheritance on condition that he marry a girl, Bella Wilfer, of his father’s choosing. Harmon who left home as a child feels that he would like to know the girl before he can decide whether they would suit as marriage partners. If he doesnot marry her the property is to pass on to his father’s long time, honest and simple servants Mr and Mrs Boffin.  By a series of events the body in the opening scenes of the book is identified as John Harmon, which gives him the opportunity to go incognito and learn more about Bella and also the faithful retainers who cared and loved him so much as a child. I fell in love with Mr and Mrs Boffin, for their simplicity and desire to do good unselfishly, for Mr Boffin’s thirst for knowledge and for his attempts at teaching Bella the dark side of wanting only money in life.. It is a hopeful story and one with a lot of love in it and becomes progressively lighter and shiny and welcoming.

The Help – Kathyrn Stockett

I had read rave reviews about this book for ages and so when I found it in the new arrivals section of the library I picked it up with a bundle of expectations. It is definitely a good read but felt very much like something that is catering to the female audience. The story is about African American maids and their interactions with their employers. the main protagonista are Abileen – a black maid who has been nanny to several white children and has recently lost her grown up son to racial crime; Minny who is another maid, with a problem of talking back to her white employers and therefore always at the risk of loosing her job and finally Skeeter – a white girl who was brought up by a black nanny whom she adored and finds inexplicably missing after she comes back from college. Skeeter wants to be a journalist and decides to write a book containing interviews with African American maids and their experiences while working in the white households of the town, many of whom are her childhood friends. Abileen, after working for years with her head down and accepting the injustice of the discrimination around her has discovered a core of rebellion inside her following her son’s death. Minny is a chracter on her own, with deep seated resentment towards the white community and the need to control her emotions in order to get a job and support the family. And Hilly is such a truly detestable creature that it surprises me that any one, black/white would ever like her. This story is not just about bad employers but the paradox of inherent distrust of the black race in the white’s and then their ability to leave their young children with complete trust in the loving care of their black nannies. It is an average story but written with simplicity, humour and clarity that make is an easy read and prevents it from becoming too morbid or depressing at any time.

 

Apart from all of the above I also raed the following….

Hot Water – P.G. Wodehouse

Full Moon – P.G. Wodehouse

Galahad at blandings – P.G. Wodehouse

Devils’ Cub – Georgette Heyer

False colours – Georgetter Heyer

Charity Girl – Georgette Heyer

The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer

The Concrete Blond – Michael Conelly

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