A Lazy Romantic Read

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While I was writing the review on Goodreads my computer did a double-check and refreshed the page thus, leaving the 500 or so word review in the blank. Thus, I am back here trying to convey my thought in a sort of way that makes sense. This is a book that chronicles Chandni’s life, a girl who is truly alone in this world, her mother dead with a broken heart, her father lost ever since, he left her mother, she is raised by her grandmother who is a matriarch who controls the majority of her life. Chandni is homeschooled and bereft of friends, a forlorn existence that makes her naive and hence, an unreliable narrator. This becomes apparent in the first few pages alone, this is a girl with issues, and those issues haunt her as she makes her way through life.
By all means this is supposed to be an intriguing read, with all the issues it chooses to tackle but, it is also tiresome because of the way the narrator views the world. It leaves me feeling confused most of the time, since, the naivety is surely justified in the book and yet, it offends me so much at the end of the day. The character falls easily into the oft used trope of the sassy main character, and here the author does a good job. Sassy heroines are generally attractive because of their prowess in conversation and this, makes the dialogues worth a read even when the story does not seem to appeal. Her words do create a certain humorous image, what with the fact that her words are littered with literary references and her personal opinions that would make the reading vibrant. However, these literary references become boring because of how often they are used in certain places. Sure, we love to hear you call someone Heathcliff and smile at you, but, after a while, it is a tiring thing, and you wish for a more general approach to humor.
The man in question in the romance, is Taimur, a person who seems obsessed with exposing C to the rest of the world. He questions her immediately and intimidates her on every step of the way. He is also my favorite character I the book by far because of his strait-laced words. I love the way he carries this aura around him, even though at the end I am not completely infatuated with him. We are told of his being “a pagan sex God with golden skin”, a praise that is more cringe inducing that something that sounds like a compliment. However, he comes off as much more than that when it comes to the whole story, making him one of the few characters we can rely in.
The author writes in a whirlwind at times, in a pace that lets us know C’s entire family history in  just two pages. Still, she does a g job in not making it a sort of cultural or history lesson and holding our interests in the narrative. The book has certain points which tell us about the culture of the time, but, it never strains the read keeping the pacing intact.
The romance however, does not appeal much to me. The end decision seems to be of the outcome of the circumstances than actual love. The scenes which depict romance in the full are very few in number and mostly, it seems that C pities Taimur and love comes as a reason of that. Taimur himself seems to be enchanted with the girl, but, the passion does not overtake us. You see the chemistry but, it remains criminally underused at the end of the day.
The central conflict is interesting but, too much like a soap opera for my taste, and the whole story seems to be cheesy. However, it should work well for the intended audience and makes a fun read.

A perfect lazy read, you should buy this novella for those empty Sunday afternoons. It won’t keep you busy for too long and will make you feel good too.
Rating – 2.5/5

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Love and Growing Old

There is a sort of sadness in being an artist, no matter how to the point your work is, it will always be perceived differently by people. At the end, the artist remains confined to the imagery that the reader conjures of him, and then fades away with time. Julie Varion is a victim of this, as she is perceived differently by every character is Lessing’s “Love Again”.

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Julie Varion is at the heart of the novel. A personality so epic, so different, that everyone is influenced by her. To an extent that the fascinations and wishes related to her itself gives the novel fuel and runs parallel to the life of its protagonist Sarah. In a sweep, Lessing does two things, creating a translucent image of a woman who we invariably fall in love with, and creating a protagonist so in love with the character that we cannot help but, sympathise. Then, again there is Stephen, and his love is so different, almost childish in the whole spectrum of things, and he is in love with an artist that has been dead for many years. He calls her his “anima”, a person that completes him. Lessing’s landscape is large and she welcomes in characters with a flourish, each with his personal struggles, and his professional ones, and in this she creates a work that can be treated both as an homage to romance, and a chronicle of growing old.

The best romances are indeed the ones which depict the impossibility of falling in love. And in this book Lessing does so with gusto. Sarah feels attraction and is courted but, her own self stops her from going the next step. The judgement of society, her own experiences, both being a weight tied to her neck. In a way she sees herself growing old and she tries to put it behind her. However, she is herself aware of her age, aware that she is growing old, that she is indeed fading away. In a way, the depiction of how Julie’s perception changes and how the reality of her fades away in the course of the novel, is a parallel to Sarah’s own perception of herself, the self-confidence in the first pages, the professionalism, the analytic mind, all fade away by the end, just leaving the essence of the person.

The reading of this novel is jerky at it’s best. It follows an uneven pace, and sometimes the authors gets lost in her own world while writing the novel. However, it provides a more complete view of the novel itself. So, when in the end Sarah looks at a child in a scene that seems more the stuff of dreams than of reality, there is an emotional connect forged, that makes us think more. Lessing creates an unsettling novel, and many would find it hard to read. But, that might partly have to do with the fact that we ourselves never want to admit that we have grown older.

And about love?
Lessing says ‘Love is merely a madness and, I tell you, deserves as well the dark house and whip as madmen do, and the reason why they are not so punished and cured is that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love too.’

Rating – 4.2/5

Adieu old man

Last night I was up till late. I was trying to make sense out of insensible things I created and then I noticed the news article at the corner of my profile. I don’t cry often but, by then, the tears had been let lose. I was crying. Gabriel Garcia Marquez had died, at the age of 87, still young in the works he wrote. The voice of a generation had gone to rest. A final abode for the person who showed us the world that was Latin America, when few others would. He succeeded too, with his novels, he made images that would capture the minds of thousands and thousands across continents. So, I would message my teacher from the States telling him how I cried at the end of “Love in the Time of Cholera” and though his perception of love is different he would know what I referred to.

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The thing about books it, there are thousands and millions  of books out there that help you grow as a reader. There are very few books that would make you grow as a person. Marquez wrote those books, that forced us to look into ourselves and question, and he told stories like an angel. I remember when I was teenager, I had just suffered a painful break up. It broke me inside. For throughout life I had been told that school relationships and everything would work out, that we had only one true love, and that someone would arrive on a horse any day now, to save us, to take us home. So, when I sat crying on my bed, trying to find the reason why I didn’t deserve love, I ended up reading “Love in the Time of Cholera”.
Did it change me? Perhaps.

Mostly, it left me with more questions and thoughts than I could care to understand or answer. Yet, his poetry hit me hard, it hit me and it made me see things in a different perspective. It left me with hope and tears. Florentino, Fermina, they were closer to me than I could ever hope any character to be. They were mirrors you could stare into and something of yours would stare back. Yes, his writing was not easily read, yes, I encountered problems in following the narrative, but, in my heart I knew that i could read him easily. Because at the end of the day, the guy was a storyteller. It did not matter what story he wrote, of gunfire, or of romance, he would write it with mastery that left you agape, with wonder racing through your mind. And at the end you were left with a story that touched your life, and characters you would never forget.

I feel like I have lost a mentor in the writing world, that I have lost someone who was vital to my growth. Possibly because his stories made me grow up, they were my introduction to an adulthood of sorts and I have never really looked back.

And perhaps after years when i face gunfire, I would remember the moment I opened his book and got lost.