Orkney… a review

To love this book, no, I’ll rephrase that, in order to get beyond the first ten pages of this book, you have to be in love with a place, you have to have talked to the sea at night, and you have to have had an affair with poetry. This is no ordinary book, and if you get through it, you will emerge salty and wet, smelling clammy, and gasping for air; and it will not leave you.

This is the description of the book on the author, Amy Sackville’s website

“On a remote island in Orkney, a curiously-matched couple arrive on their honeymoon. He is an eminent literature professor; she was his pale, enigmatic star pupil. Alone beneath the shifting skies of this untethered landscape, the professor realises how little he knows about his new bride and yet, as the days go by and his mind turns obsessively upon the creature who has so beguiled him, she seems to slip ever further from his yearning grasp. Where does she come from? Why did she ask him to bring her north? What is it that constantly draws her to the sea?”

We never learn of her name, this woman of the sea, but we don’t need to. She is a slippery thing of beauty, one that speaks to the cold sea, the cold sea up at the islands, in the middle of nowhere. They spend ten days in Orkney, their first days together as a couple, in a cottage. As a routine, they eat together, but take turns with the sea alone, mostly. She gazes out into the blue from her perch on the beach, he gazes out at her from the window. And around them, the world melts and disappears, flung at the readers’ face and then gone, like sea spray.

If you know me, you know my love for all things unreal. This is a very unreal book… and unlike Murakami, Marquez, Esquivel; I don’t have to read it in translation, that pleases me. I have just been to the Highlands a couple of weeks ago, and the images of Orkney are raw and sharp-edged, they are too vivid in my head, almost causing pain. The most unusual about the style of writing in the book is the fact that the author’s words (the book is in first person narrative, so in this case, the professor’s words) are never in quotes, but her’s are… only she of the sea can be quoted…

Colours, colours that melt and blend into the sea, that bring me here, that take me away. Cold winds, layers of clothes, the air, heavy brine, salty and wet, like their bodies pressed together. Ten days on a deserted island… 300 odd pages… how much you think, how much could change?

You will know the answer if you have ever loved a poetess, ever felt that she was farthest away when she was closest to you. If you’ve ever played wordgames with the sunset, racing with another to keep at it before the yellow orb dips into the waters, trying to keep up the game, failing… failing and being led, naive, into the sea. Head dips and gasps, sand, water, salt, sting sing sting sing… and up up for air. Poetry in motion…

Quote: Prussian blueInk-washed. Indigo.

Out where the sea meets the sky, a swelling of deep, powdery purple cloud, a band of palest eau-de-nil below, and then the reflection of the cloud again purpling the sea violet. The colour of your birthmark, I say; ‘and my bruises’, she smiles.

Happy Birthday, Louisa May Alcott!

Have you read Little Women? Have you? You must!

Well you can read about it here… but you actually should go read it!https://cupandchaucer.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/little-women/

And don’t let anyone tell you that it is a book for girls, it’s not! It is as much a book for little boys… and every child must read it to know in a childish way about how to find love and what to do with it.

Did you know that it’s autobiographical and sketches the authors relationship with her sisters? Awww, I say.

Quote: She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain!

The woman behind Little Women!

The Secret Garden …a review

Books that I read as a child left such strong imprints on my imagination that all these years later, I still dream of them. This is one such book.
Where I spent most of my childhood, we had a guava tree in the backyard, and I would spend hours reading, sitting on its flat branches. I pretended that I was Mary and it was my serect garden, that I too had a hidden space, a key, a bird.
Ten year old Mary, born and raised in India, returns to England after losing her parents. At her Uncle’s castle, she is bitter and arrogant, refusing to be taken care of or being happy. Soon, she discovers a mysterious boy, who wails at night, and is a recluse… who is he? Why does he cry? Where does the key lead to? Such question crop up in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s brilliant children’s book.
This is a beautiful book. It teaches many difficult kids to be gentle, to be understanding. Cruel kids much be kind and patient. It teaches many useful values and a very serene and calm way. But there is so much excitement throughout!
I so badly wanted some adventure then… so badly want some now too!

PS: Mondrak, the Great Maytham Hall Garden in Kent provided the inspiration for ‘The Secret Garden’. Have you been there!?

PPS: I just LOVED this pic, it reminds me of the excitement that accompanies the front page of an unread book!

(Picture courtesy: http://wellmaybeiwasmistaken.tumblr.com/post/17584280622)


Happy Birthday, Hans Christian Andersen!

Fairy tales forever!

Hans Christian Andersen sculpture, Central Park, Manhattan

“Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. “Someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls, a soul was going up to God.”
~ from ‘The Little Match Girl’

Through the Looking-Glass … a review

Psychedelic Book Cover

Hmmm… so Alice, as we know, is a girl of about seven, who goes about having all sorts of weird adventures.  In this very famous Lewis Carroll book, she ends up in a parallel world trough a looking glass. In this world, she meets Queens and Kings, Humpty-Dumpty, sheep, frogs and whatnots! She must play a game of chess to find her way out and that too, backwards. Things are not what they seem and topsy-turvy is the rule of the game. There’s some brilliantly creative nonsensical poetry too.

Two things struck me about this book. First, although it was a little difficult to understand when I began reading it; I told myself to be a child in the head. Things seemed simple enough the. The trick is to not over analyse the book. The happenings are strange enough, our thoughts only blur logic further.

Second, I did feel that somewhere towards about 75% of the story, if Alice had figured out the fact that everything in the world was happening backwards, I should have liked it much better. Although, it is so not my place to comment upon one of the greatest writers to have lived; I do do think it would’ve been more fun. Sigh, strange how difficult it is to write and how easy to criticize another.

Also, as I promised here, Jefferson Airplane!

When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low

Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head

(No, the dormouse does not say it. If anyone tells you otherwise, don’t believe then!)

PS: An old friend (who wasn’t a friend then, we had ‘history’) from school said she liked this space. Another relatively newer friend linked it. I’m feeling a wee bit happy 🙂