The Daylight Gate … a review

I was at Lancaster University last week and spending some time walking around Pendle College and ended up at their very impressive student library. What do I do when that happens? Pick up a book and make a beeline for an empty couch! I picked up this book because I had been to Lancaster Castle the day before and only just found out about the area’s connection to witches!

The book is set in 1612, when James I, a Protestant King, is on the throne. He was James VI of Scotland, of course, the son of Mary Queen of Scots. Apparently, he was obsessed with ridding his realm of twin evils, witchcraft and Catholicism, at any price…

The narrative has an old fashioned writing style, it is not halting though, just different. The local sheriff at Pendle hill interrupts a strange meeting as he suspects it to be a witches’ Sabbat. I won’t tell you how, but even Shakespeare plays a cameo – how cool is that!?

It is a very short read although it looks deceptively thick. It took me a couple of hours and a bit to read, although I was totally engrossed in it. The library was fab and the weather outside was, well, underwhelming, so there.

An Atlas of Impossible Longing … a review

It has been a long time since I read an Indian author writing in English. I cannot say I have read a lot of them anyway, but Amitav Ghosh has always been close to my heart. And I still remember reading The Hungry Tide a long time ago and how it touched me.

This novel by Anuradha Roy touches on some similar themes. The idea of caste in rural Bengal, the frequent floods, the ache of unrequited love are all similar and deftly captured. The story of two generations of young men and women, whose live just meander along with little or no meaning, with the passage of time is written in a poignant way.

There is a Macondo-esque village in this novel, a kind of place that has life infused in it easily and one can almost imagine it standing as a still witness to the coming and goings of its characters. I also loved the descriptions and imagery in the passing of the seasons and the effects upon the soft green lands.

Roy’s writing is very beautiful, and it lends itself well to the theme of longing. I hadn’t even heard of her but will definitely keep an eye out for more of her works. I’ll leave you with this quote…

“A veritable atlas. What rivers of desire, what mountains of ambition. Want, want, hope, hope, this is what your palm say, your palm is nothing but an atlas of impossible longings.”

10 Favourite Love Quotes

Here’s 10 of my personal favourites:

“I was always hungry for love. Just once, I wanted to know what it was like to get my fill of it — to be fed so much love I couldn’t take any more. Just once. ”
Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

“Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves”
Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate

“For I am the daughter of Elrond. I shall not go with him when he departs to the Havens: for mine is the choice of Luthien, and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

“It is that happy stretch of time when the lovers set to chronicling their passion. When no glance, no tone of voice is so fleeting but it shines with significance. When each moment, each perception is brought out with care, unfolded like a precious gem from its layers of the softest tissue paper and laid in front of the beloved — turned this way and that, examined, considered.”
Ahdaf Soueif, The Map of Love

“The moment you stop to think about whether you love someone, you’ve already stopped loving that person forever.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

“You can never know if a person forgives you when you wrong them. Therefore it is existentially important to you. It is a question you are intensely concerned with. Neither can you know whether a person loves you. It’s something you just have to believe or hope. But these things are more important to you than the fact that the sum of the angles in a triangle is 180 degrees. You don’t think about the law of cause and effect or about modes of perception when you are in the middle of your first kiss.”
Jostein Gaarder, Sophie’s World

“The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you.”
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”
Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

“I want to fall in love in such a way that the mere sight of a man, even a block away from me, will shake and pierce me, will weaken me, and make me tremble and soften and melt.”
Anaïs Nin, Delta of Venus

And in the end, I leave you with the most heartbreaking love poem by Pablo Neruda, placed to incredible violin, watch here.

Motif Challenge Mar

For the March bit of this challenge,

MARCH- Take a Trip
Time Travel or read a book set in a country different than where you live”

I read Air, by Caroline Allen, a couple of months ago. This book is mainly set in Japan,although some parts of it cover the protagonist Pearl  travelling to/from Missouri. But I have been to neither of those two countries. So I am just sharing the review,

HERE

Trigger Warnings … a review

I got this book as a Christmas present from a faraway friend who has the most eclectic reading taste.She asked me if I had read any Gaiman and when I said no, she proceeded to post me this. I can safely say that this is unline anything I have read in a long time.

This book is primarily fantasy fiction, with elements of magic realism, surrealism, and general strangeness that run in a common vein throughout. Made up of many short stories and poems of varying lengths, this has a  nice dip-in-and-out quality to it. And that is exactly what I needed as I have been travelling over the holidays to various people. I like to read short stories which then don’t weigh on my mind when I’m doing other stuff and make me in any way anti-social.

Some of the stories have stayed with me. Especially, a modern day retelling of Cinderella, which is my favourite Disney move since I was three! Gaiman is a natural poet and his writing has a haunting, wistful quality about it that is very engaging. In some ways, this book was a reminder of feelings of reading Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes. And as far as I am concerned, being reminded of his writing is never a bad thing.

If you fancy a different kind of read, shorter fiction, fairy-tales for adults, or just want to add some surreal to the January fog, this is your book. Enjoy!

Air … a review

I had enjoyed the tales of Pearl Swinton and her struggles with ‘visions’ as a young girl in Caroline Allen’s first book of the Elemental Journey series. But I definitely enjoyed this book far more. Maybe it was just an adult Pearl and her adventures that were interesting. But I also think Allen is also getting better at her craft. This book had more of a quality of believeable about it.

Pearl is now older and Air follows her life through to Japan. Now this was epic. The Japanese subcultures have truly been brought to life. While she meets many people and tries very hard, Pearl can never quite fit in. She still struggles with strange visions which bring about a magical quality to the writing. She is able to manage them better as an adult though. In true immigrant fashion, when she comes back to Mississippi at one point, she finds that she can’t quite fit in here either – a classic case of ‘reverse culture shock’.

Having moved countries with vastly different cultures myself, I completely agreed with a lot of her emotions. Of feeling uprooted from home country and not quite settled in, in new is something all immigrants face at one point of time or another. The concept of ‘home’ is dealt with poignantly, as home is different things to different people and takes on a whole new meaning as we travel more and move more for study, work, or other reasons. Allen’s style is disarming and simple. The book is easily read and enjoyed in a couple of long sittings by the winter fire.