Okay I was a bit late in updating this so I’ll just give micro-reviews for three books I read last week. Instead of going for the completely new I opted for some oldies that are not quite cult classics.
Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer: This was an exhilarating read from start to finish. The complicated tangle of love, lies and deceit culminates in tragedy. When you discover the truth, the ending is utterly heartbreaking even if predictable.
The Bride Stripped Bare by Anonymous. (or Nikki Gemmell if you want to be pedantic about it). This particular tale of love, lust and adultery stupefies with its confounding and mysterious finale.
Prey by Michael Crichton. I am usually not a fan of science fiction but this was written in an enticing way with the house-husband business and supermarket nappy discussions paralelling the looming threat of an evolving nano-virus so it works well as a futuristic thriller.
I have always loved the sagas of love and tragedy by Power of One author, Bryce Courtenay. The Persimmon Tree set against the backdrop of Java under Dutch colonial rule had me awake through the wee hours of the night, turning pages to see if the young lovers who parted in war ever reunited since in his stories, heroes do not always survive.
The sailing butterfly collector and the Kinbaku – mastered heroin addict make for an interesting pair. But the details of military operation, the knowledge of Javanese culture portrayed in the book and the way coincidences are so craftily engineered is what usually leaves me in tears.
Not to mention it makes for interesting and educational reading – one almost feels a part of a historical event when reading his books. Most people hate books that are incredibly detailed but the longer they are, the more I like it. The Persimmon Tree is one of those.
It was definitely an interesting take on spiritual reading but I think what made it so successful was the simplicity of the language and its attempt to answer the questions everyone is searching the answers to but is afraid to listen to through the travels of an Andalusian shepherd boy.
What did I learn from it?
Everyone has dreams to follow but feel held back by love, the fear of change and conditions of adversity. There are prices to pay before reaping rewards. Patience is an important skill.
I guess in a way it is fortunate that the author’s daughter decided it was time to read what had laid dormant for fifty years because otherwise the book I bought would probably still be unpublished.
The storyline was quite interesting at the beginning but I felt too confused and muddled by the sheer number of characters by its conclusion. It did reflect on some interesting questions regarding living in an occupied country especially about what is seen on the surface and what goes on behind closed minds. However basing a work on the Fifth Symphony by Beethoven is a huge endeavour and it was a shame the manuscript had to end so suddenly in an appendix.
To be fair, Irene Nemirovsky didn’t really have the time to refine her manuscript thanks to her Jewish ancestry and the horrors of Auschwitz while her life merits being a novel, or rather a biography, in its own right.
Update: In 2014 they have made a film based on the book.
When I saw the Sherlock Holmes trailer, I was disappointed because it seemed as if Guy Ritchie had uprooted Sherlock from his detective genre and firmly implanted him in an action movie. This had a very disagreeable taste to me as a fan of Sir Arthur’s fictious genius but this was the only tasteful movie showing at Chadstone on Boxing Day at 11 pm.
While initially trying to get over the shock of the movie starting like something akin to The Bride of Frankenstein with touches of the paranormal, the sight of Sherlock throwing punches in the ring made it clear this Sherlock was not close to how Doyle made him appear. While I’m all for artistic license, did Ritchie have to infuse it with American sitcom humour ?
The music too was disconcerting and seemed far too lively or too dramatic for the sombre English setting in my opinion so I was surprised by Hans Zimmer. Not to mention the mix of Sherlock Holmes and cheeky bedroom shenanigans! The storyline was also very reminiscent of books by Dan Brown with its addition of addition of superstition and action to a mystery genre.
So thinking I was in for a dose of salt, I was pleasantly surprised when in the middle the plot picked up and an actual mystery to solve emerged. This coupled with relationship tangles until the pitiful conclusion was thrilling enough to make it more satisfying than was initially expected.
While it was an interesting take on an overly stereotyped figure, as someone who loves plot over visuals…it is possibly why I am incapable of providing a fully, glowing review.
1. Get a job involving writing whether it is volunteering, interning or paid work.
2. Learn a new language.
3. Get back to dancing.
4. Pick up Photoshop skills.
5. Cook more often & eat take-out less.
6. Finally make a Flickr to upload my photos to.
7. Maintain this blog, at least once a week.
8. Tone down on the clothes shopping.
9. Save up for a trip overseas.
10. Get braver in my city driving skills.