May 2017

The Spy – Paulo Coelho

I do judge a book by its cover sometimes😊… As covers go, this is an exotic one, the elaborate hairdo and ornaments, the delicate profile… I found myself going back to it over and over after reading certain incidents in the book, could you have done that? I asked the photograph.

‘Mata Hari’ was a name that I had heard many times while growing up but my curiosity was never piqued enough to read more about her and her life. This simple book does shed light on her life and the difficult times that she witnessed. I can only imagine her life in Paris as a dancer and courtesan, dependent on powerful men for money and security, always longing for true love.

Her wrongful conviction as a spy in 1917 and the subsequent lukewarm trial add to the melancholy of her life.

Paulo Coelho keeps adding new subjects to his repertoire. With this book a new subject is firmly in place, but I need to turn to the net to learn more about this intriguing lady.

Ghachar Ghochar – Vivek Shanbhag

I must admit that this was the first time I read a Kannada novel translated into English.

This is a slim copy taking us into a middle-class urban Indian family that comes into big money after seeing a life of great financial difficulties. The sentiments of all members, the emotional tug of war, the petty lies and deceit that make their way into personalities make for a fascinating read.

It was over in one lazy Sunday reading session but has piqued my curiosity enough to know and read more works by Vivek Shanbhag.

The Last Painting of Sara De Vos – Dominic Smith

I must have seen this cover a hundred times, yet I can’t get over the beauty of it! The colours, the expression, the textures… All are a work of extreme purity.

Now, to come to what’s between the covers… Pure excellence.

Meandering between three decades, starting from the art and life of the first female Dutch artist to be invited to join the Artists Guild in 1600s, to present day New York of 2000 and a painting called, ‘At the Edge of the Wood’ and it’s forgery. Three alternating timelines and locations and their impact on the lives of different people, is done masterfully by Dominic Smith.

I couldn’t agree more with the ‘People’ magazine review… “This beautiful meditation on love, loss, and art is as luminous as a Vermeer. ‘

Loved every word of this fabulous book.

There is something

So very alive in us
Surrounded by the remains
Of so much else
That it’s existence
Can be overlooked
But every morning
Just to yourself
it’s vibrant presence
As you glance within

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce

When a book comes highly recommended by a person who has reviewed a sizeable number of books in the bookshop that she runs, one has to take her opinion seriously.

That is exactly what I did when I bought this rather unusually titled book from a beautiful bookstore in Durham.

It took me a while to warm up to the story though, but I felt myself being dragged into the pilgrimage that Harold Fry undertakes in the belief that as long as he walks, her friend Queenie, a person battling cancer, will live.

So begins a six hundred mile walk through the picturesque and unpredictable English countryside, to the hospice where Queenie is admitted.

Rachel has been quite successful in capturing the essence of the protagonists of her story. As it is a family drama, one feels familiar with them and uderstands them quite intimately by the end of the novel.

As Harold struggled to finish his journey and through his walk, unravel the mess his life had become, I battled an urge to continue reading even though my eyes were tired and just wanted to go into deep sleep.

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