Archive for February, 2010


Book  – Penelopiad – The Myth Of Penelope and Odysseus

Author – Margaret Atwood

Genre – Historical Fiction

Protagonist – Penelope

Summary –

The story of Penelope – as told by herself.
In The Odyssey, Penelope – daughter of King Icarius of Sparta, and the cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy – is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife. Atwood’s dazzling retelling of the old myth is as haunting as it is wise and compassionate, as disturbing as it is entertaining. With incomparable wit and verve, she gives the story of Penelope new life and reality.
Homer’s Odyssey is not the only version of the story. Mythic material was originally oral, and also local-a myth would be told one way in one place and quite differently in another. I have drawn on material other than The Odyssey, especially for the details of Penelope’s parentage, her early life and marriage, and the scandalous rumours circulating about her.
I’ve chosen to give the telling of the story to Penelope and to her twelve hanged maids. The Maids form a chanting and singing Chorus which focuses on two questions that must pose themselves after any close reading of The Odyssey: what led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to? The story as told in The Odyssey doesn’t hold water: there are too many inconsistencies. I’ve always been haunted by the hanged maids; and, in The Penelopiad, so is Penelope herself.-from Margaret Atwood’s Introduction to The Penelopiad

Things I liked about the book– After you have read the long summary I am sure you will have really high expectations from this book . I know I did.. To some extent I liked the book , but not for the subject ( will come to that part later) , for it’s beautiful and creative narrative.  Atwood can weave a story just by her wonderful prose and I realized that when I was compelled to complete this book whose subject line I had lost all interest in by the time I was half way through. But I went on just because of her style.

You must be thinking how can I praise the writing and hate the subject ? Read this book and you will get what m trying hard to convey here.

Another good thing  it ends pretty fast. Small book 🙂

Things I disliked about the book :

Just because you  are making Penelope tell her story doesn’t necessarily have to make this a thing sensational news piece  and if you would have wanted to write feministic stuff then you should have tried messing with some other literature. Too preachy , too judgmental and some times , no most of the times ultra feministic. In some other context I would have totally liked a feministic subject. But I don’t like messing with classics. Period.

This is just my view and I am stating it because I am entitled to an opinion. I would definitely read another Atwood book because she is an amazing author. As for recommendations to this one. I am not so sure. May be if you don’t mind twisted tales you will have no problems with it. 🙂

Cover love for Year Of Wonders

Posted: February 26, 2010 in Weekly Events

I got this book from the library and have been facinated with it’s cover ever since. I had read this book a few months back but I think it had this 1st cover which I failed to appreciate at that time. I wanted to read it again so I re issued the book. Now I was surprised to see a new cover.First time round I got the book with this cover.

This gripping historical novel is based on the true story of Eyam, the “Plague Village,” tucked in the rugged mountain spine of England. In 1666, when an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to the isolated settlement of shepherds and lead miners, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna’s eyes the reader follows the story of the plague year, as her fellow villagers make an extraordinary choice: convinced by a visionary young minister they elect to quarantine themselves within the village boundaries to arrest the spread of the disease. As the death toll rises and people turn from prayers and herbal cures to sorcery and murderous witch-hunting, Anna must confront the deaths of family, the disintegration of her community, and the lure of illicit love.

Exploring love and learning, fear and fanaticism, and the struggle of science and religion to interpret the world at the cusp of the modern era, Year of Wonders is at once a story of unconventional love and a richly detailed evocation of a riveting moment in history.

This time my library issued me the same book  with a different cover.

I think both the covers are beautiful. Though the first one has a more historical fiction feel to it. What do you think?

Library Loot of some kind

Posted: February 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

I thought I would do a library loot post post but I am too tired to format anything and link. Now I know what dead tired actually means. I mean I want to write up reviews. I want to participate  and link up my reviews for challenges and I know how badly I want to read all my fav blogs and comment .But the energy level is zero.

Let me just show you the books I borrowed from the library. There is quite a variety and I used my card as well as my sister’s to check out books 🙂

These two graphic novels were in the new arrivals section of my library. I pounced on them . Literally did. 🙂

Push was an obvious choice because of the movie Precious , which I want to watch soon.

The Magician’s Guild was my librarian’s recommendation. She thought I  might enjoy it.It’s a part of the trilogy and the blurb sounds good.

I had a list of recommendations from my best friend and he insisted I read these books especially History Of Love and Night Train  To Lisbon . I was  lucky to find most of them but a few on the list were already issued so I need to wait till they are returned to the library. Till then I need to finish this mountain of books.Two of these are re reads but I enjoyed them so much first time round that I couldn’t help getting them.

Aren’t some of these covers gorgeous..

I never realized dystopian fiction could be this good. For the uninitiated dystopia is a vision, of an often futuristic society, which has developed into a negative version of  Utopia. A Dystopia is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government. It often features different kinds of repressive social control systems, a lack or total absence of individual freedoms and expressions and a state of constant warfare or violence. So my book today ,fits this category perfectly.

In this book there is an authoritarian form of govt. i.e  Capitol , there is total lack of individual freedom , Katniss can vouch for that and there is struggle to survive . Also to add they love putting teenagers in the arena for those gruesome ‘ fight until death’ matches that are  telecast . Think reality TV. Brutal and vicious reality TV .Ya, they kinda make a sport of killing teenagers with sponsors and all . Dystopia people ,what else did you want , pillow fights ? Can dystopian fiction get better than this ?I am sure it does in adult dystopian . But Hunger Games is  a YA book and this is as brutal as it gets. If you really want a more depressing ( read really , really  depressing ) dystopian/post apocalyptic book, go read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. If you want a gripping , nail biting , tear shedding one read Hunger Games.

I loved Katniss , I loved Peeta and loved the world Suzanne Collins created.  I felt for every single kid put out there for a fight to live.  I cried inconsolably when one of  the characters was killed. I cheered for Katniss when she outwitted the Capitol . And now I am the newly initiated member of Team Katniss. There’s a lot going on for Team Gale and Team Peeta. I have no qualms as to with whom she ends up with but I know I like this book because it’s Katniss who stands out and makes you want to read on.  Though I might add I am angling a lil on Peeta’s side but I will wait till I finish Catching Fire to see what I think about the whole Gale/Peeta issue.

Highly Recommended. Can’t wait to read Catching Fire.

I talked about a Thrity Umrigar book a few days back and today I am back,  to rave about her book  Bombay Time. Some of you might  know why this book is so special to me. I am a Mumbaikar and devour any book which mentions my city and it’s beauty. Umrigar puts my city in the title. How could I resist this book?

This time she chronicles the life of  Parsi families of Wadia Baug.It has multiple story lines where we get to meet a host of characters of various natures who form this seemingly close knit affluent community. Each one has a story hidden somewhere which more or less explains their individual out look towards life.

She uses  marriage as a tool to bring these people together and takes us through their lives and gives us a glimpse into Parsi customs and their lifestyle . Each time a character is depicted ,Mumbai or the then Bombay is shown in the background. The changes the city has gone through having accommodated and adjusted  while bringing about some good and bad changes in the outlook of  its oldest settled communities is done so well that I felt I was watching this happen rather than reading it.

While reading this book , Jimmy Kanga , Coomi Bilimoria , Tehmi , Dosa Popat and most importantly Rusi were not just mere characters on the pages of a book , they each talked and I am sure every person who has read this book felt the same way.  I could call it a set of short stories but then they are all connected . Umrigar ties knot in a way only she can.

The prose was absolutely beautiful.  No two thoughts about that.Any body who enjoys contemporary fiction will love this book. There is a bit of vernacular used but that I thought added to the charm of story telling.I haven’t let out the story to you because the beauty lies in the discovery . You will  enjoy it more if you don’t know before hand what each one of these characters has to tell you.

P.S. – Airport bookstore was the place where I found this one. The last place I thought I would find a book like this. They usually stock mysteries and racy edgy bestsellers. It was their last copy and I am glad I got it. Some books are meant to found by readers who will enjoy them 😉