Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller [Book Review]

Notes on a Scandal.jpgTitle : Notes on a Scandal

Author : Zoe Heller

ISBN : 9780141029061

Publisher : Penguin UK

Genre : Nonfiction

Pages : 256

Source : Self

Rating : 4 Stars

Been wanting to read this book for a very long time.! Notes on a Scandal is a heart-wrenching read.

The story revolves around one Miss Sheba, who has an illicit affair with one of her pupils in the school she works in. The Book is narrated by her friend Barbara, a middle-aged woman who befriends Sheba after she joins the school.

I like how in the story ‘relationships’ are handled delicately, as they should be. How sometimes, people in relationships take things for granted, how they don’t realise what they have until they lose it and pay the price for it. The story also talks about ‘betrayal’ of friendship.

The story had a rather sad ending and makes you wish things had turned out differently. A lot of “coulda shoulda and woulda”.

It also touches certain topics like ‘loneliness’, ‘sexual frustration’ and ‘jealousy’. Which have been subtly incorporated in the narration by the author.

All in all, Notes on a Scandal is a really good read but has a rather sad ending and makes you wish things had turned out differently.

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens [Book Review]

greatexpectations-charlesdickens-120523031601-phpapp01-thumbnail-4.jpgTitle : Great Expectations

Author : Charles Dickens

ISBN : 9780192833594

Publisher : Oxford University Press

Genre : Classic

Pages : 505

Source : Self

Rating : 5 stars

Sometimes we expect more from others because we would be willing to do that much for them. Expectations seemed abundant in this story and not just for the protagonist. Let’s start with the characters that showed up first and the instances that made them who they were. The seeming heart wrecking story begins and ends at the same place among the same set of people which I guess was the very first hint of everything in life bouncing back at us when we least expect it that is also the Moral of the story.

Mrs. Gargery, a cold blooded sister who was extra thorny for her brother and husband was grievously selfish from the very beginning and her expectations leaded her from a perpetual longing and suffering throughout the story. Her husband, the naive and the sweetest among all, though weak with his attributes, compensated for everything his wife ever was that includes her brother with whom he shared a senseless relationship of more than just a brother by law; friendship. Joe, Gargery, who lived as a commoner with no vivacious expectations leads a significantly comfortable life by doing good and receiving the equal share of happiness throughout, for his expectations were never too forged.

The story takes a vicious turn when the protagonist, Pip is thrown into the worlds of richness, beauty and the mere materialistic attributes and not to mention a woman’s wrath on men for her befuddling past. Yes, the expectations of Miss Havisham, carefully netted and structured to carry out from her adopted daughter is the outset for pip’s first step towards the real life which, according to Estella (adopted daughter) would mold anyone once the suffering has been stronger than all other teaching. The expectations of these two women, self-interested and dolor, lead them to an afflictive epiphany over the course of life which she believed was engineered and confounding and disastrous future respectively.

The pockets play one of the significant plays in molding pip’s dream and the most important one is Herbert pocket, who made an appearance as to not have a bright life and success in the eyes of Pip and held just one selfless expectation of growing powerful and independent. Offering his love to Clara and friendship to Pip, he executes his dream of being a valet, a husband and a greatest of friends.

Everything which is done in the present, affects the future by consequence, and the past by redemption. Enter, Magwitch. The benefactor of Pip who seized to be what he was that was made through his past and decides to replenish it by carrying out the deeds of someone else’s expectation. That involved being a gentleman for a reason of marrying a beautiful woman by snubbing whoever who held him dear. This is where the expectations of Pip and the convict intervene for one is helping another to become what he hopes for and another is helping the one in letting him, which according to him is the much needed salvation. One leading to death and another, taking a curvature and bringing him back to where he started.

Most of the plot line characters colligates with one another and that is quite amazingly lurid at the same time. The depredations were brought from all the corners of the story and directed towards Pip. Let’s go over the “what if”s postulates. What if Pip did not consent to steal? What if Provis was not the benefactor? What if Miss Havisham’s brother did not find himself conspiring against his sister? What if the benefactor’s companion did not break Miss Havisham’s heart? What if Mr Jaggers’ maid (Estella’s mother) was not a jealous woman who threatened to kill Estella when she was 3 years old? What if Wemmick had not shown his civil side? And most importantly, what if Estella did not hurt Pip when he was a kid that began the ripple effect and joined all the dots from the past, present and supposedly the future which created the greatest expectation for the protagonist that led to his life? A life, so beautiful which, for his disdain, gave him grief, sadness, disarray and kept him baffled but made him what he was destined to. His great expectations, that bent him down to be a humble gentleman though it costed him love, friendships and lives.What is beauty? A destroyer.

Reviewed by Pavan Kumar B C.

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Siddhartha by Herman Hesse [Book Review]

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.jpg

Title : Siddhartha

Author : Hermann Hesse

ISBN : 9780141189574

Publisher : Penguin India

Genre : Classic

Pages : 160

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

First things first- This famous book written by the Nobel Prize winner Herman Hesse is NOT Gautam Buddha’s story (though he features in the story).

This is the story of Siddhartha, a young boy, a son of a Brahmin, who leaves his home to wander in search of Atman’, the self and understand its intricacies. He renounces all worldly pleasures by becoming a ‘Samana’, by learning the art of fasting, penance and meditation. He learns the art of ‘love making’ from Kamala, the courtesan. However, despite the teachings and the learning he does not experience the real truth of life. He even meets Gautam Buddha but refuses to be his disciple as he says that no one but your own experience can take you to the path of enlightenment. He further wanders away from this life of renunciation and enters one of passion, desire, lust and wealth hoarding. This new life corrupts him as he embraces all that he loathed and previously considered inferior and finally realizes that he has turned into one among the masses. He is even filled with sense of attachment and longing for his son. He again turns back, goes back to his roots, and goes beside the river and tries to understand what it says. He realizes that the river is timeless, so is he and so is the world. It finally dawns upon him that instead of looking to an imaginary world that is perfect and has no flaws, the world should be loved as it is, with all its belongings, all its things and all its creatures. He condemns giving more importance to thought and speculation and insists on giving more importance to people and things.

Siddhrtha by Herman Hesse is a widely acclaimed book, being translated in many languages over the years. The story is completely non-predictable, engaging, thought provoking and will make you stop and introspect at various points. The writing is simple and coherent. Though I loved how the thought process of the protagonist is explained very explicitly and crisply at the end, the book did bore me somewhere in the mid where it got a bit repetitive and I couldn’t understand the flow of his thoughts. Having said that, I must assert that anyone with even a bit of philosophical and spiritual inclination is going to love this short book.

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The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery [Book Review]

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-ExuperyTitle : The Little Prince

Author : Antoine De Saint-Exupery

ISBN : 9780156012195

Publisher : Harcourt, Inc/

Genre : Young Adult

Pages : 98

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

The author is stranded in a deserted following a flight accident and there he meets a tiny boy with yellow hair- “The Little Prince”. He comes from a tiny planet where there are 3 volcanoes which are tinier than him and a flower that he loves. Before reaching earth, the little prince had already travelled to 5 other planets and has encountered weird men. Sounds Fairytale-ish? Ofcourse it is!

This book is the most mesmerizing and unforgettable tale of liveliness, affection and loss of innocence, shaped and drawn by the very talented Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that has been making us laugh and weep for years.

“In the course of this life I have had a great many encounters with a great many people who have been concerned with matters of consequence. I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn’t much improved my opinion of them.”

The Little Prince is a short fairytale originally written (and illustrated as well) by Antoine De Saint- Exupery. And it is a strange coincident that the author died in a plane accident few months after the book was published.

The conversation between the protagonist and the little prince is full of small pockets of philosophy and the story is as much as for adults as it is for kids. And not to forget the beautiful illustrations.

This is not just a children’s book. It’s for adults too, who remember being children and feel the nostalgia for the simple comfort of childhood innocence.

Amidst all the serious non fiction that I have been reading these days, this book came as a welcome respite leaving me all smiling and a bit sad too (towards the end).

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