Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Sarah’s Key

 sarahs key4 Sarahs Key

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups, in which the French police arrested thousands of Jews and held them under inhuman conditions at the Vélodrome d’Hiver outside the city, before transporting them to Auschwitz. The story is told from the viewpoints of two people in different time periods: a ten-year-old Jewish girl who is part of the roundup, and an American-born French journalist, Julia Jarmond, who researches the story in 2003.

Sarah’s Key draws readers in effortlessly with its dramatic opening – the police drag the little girl and her mother out of their apartment while neighbors watch silently. Meanwhile the girl has locked her four-year-old brother in a secret cupboard to save him, assuring him she will soon return. Juxtaposed with the girl’s story is Julia Jarmond’s narrative. As Julia learns more about what happened to the child, troubling secrets about her own French husband and his family come to light.

The first half of Sarah’s Key is absolutely riveting. The plot is suspenseful, moving and tight, the pacing perfect. A Jewish child’s  innocence being gradually eroded, from her time at Vélodrome d’Hiver to her return to her brother, is beautifully portrayed, as is Julia’s emotional and cultural conflict as she learns more about the Paris roundup and her own family.  

However,  the major climax takes place midway through the book. The narrative loses steam after that; events appear somewhat forced and rambling.  It isn’t clear why Julia is so traumatized by the idea of her husband’s family living in the apartment where the Jewish girl once lived, or why she desperately tries to find the now-grown girl and her acquired family. There is a second revelation of sorts towards the end, but the construction seems amateurish compared to the first. Several one-dimensional characters who serve no clear purpose are also scattered through the book.

Perhaps my expectations are too high from having read Holocaust books like “Sophie’s Choice” and “The Boy in Striped Pajamas, but I’d rate Sarah’s Key a “Must Read But Borrow”.

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Die For You by Lisa Unger

dieforyou1 Die For You by Lisa Unger

I just finished “Die For You” by Lisa Unger.
The Plot: Isabel, a successful writer, and her computer games designer husband, Marcus, have a perfect life in Upper West Side Manhattan until the morning he kisses her goodbye and simply disappears. Isabel will stop at nothing to find out what happened to Marcus, though each nugget of uncovered truth further erodes her perception of her marriage.

I enjoyed the book. It drew me in with its great pacing, engaging prose and well-etched characters. I felt I was with the protagonist at each turn of her frantic quest, from the concrete streets of Manhattan to the cobble-stoned lanes of Prague. To an extent, I foresaw what was coming, as the first few pages hinted that the Isabel-Marcus union was not entirely idyllic, but the adroit unpeeling of both plot and character layers kept the novel suspenseful till the end.

On the flip side, the double-life theme is rather unoriginal (though handled well). The climax was satisfying but not heart-stopping. While some of the sub-plots distracted me from the story, they were interesting enough to be forgiven.
I recommend borrowing the book.

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Author of how-to book for Pedophiles arrested!

This is an update to my post http://www.geetamenon.com/news/free-press-or-devolution/

As many of you know, a book called “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure” was released last month on Amazon. Amazon yanked the book from it’s website soon after the release. Now the author, Philip Greaves, has been arrested.

There’s hope for society yet!

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Women’s fiction versus Chick Lit and Romance

When I tell people that my novel, “Speechless”,  falls within the genre  “Women’s fiction”, I’m often asked one of two questions:  “Is it a romance novel?” or  “Is it a Sex and the City kind of book?”

Women’s fiction, usually grouped with mainstream fiction in book stores, is neither. It is serious fiction written by women for women. It  can be commercial or literary and deals with the empowerment of women, the issues they face, the relationships that change them for better or worse. Think “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett or  “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana De Rosnay.

While Women’s Fiction often has elements of romance, the plot focuses on the female protagonist rather than the chemistry between lovers.  There is also deeper characterization, and more intricate sub-plotting than in a romance novel. The ending may not be happily-ever-after. And yes, the cover will not have Fabio holding a swooning  woman in his Photoshop enhanced arms.

Women’s Fiction is also different from the fun, frothy “Sex and the City kind of novel” known as Chick lit.  While both  genres are usually about women’s issues (relationships, motherhood, coming-of-age), Women’s fiction usually has a serious, strong plot requiring emotional investment from the reader, and so tends to be more memorable than Chick lit.

Lastly, the three  genres are  unique in terms of target audience. Though Women’s fiction, Romance and Chick lit are all read primarily by women, a woman who reads Romance is unlikely to read Women’s fiction or Chick lit and vice-versa.

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“We The Living” by Ayn Rand

 

russia1918 streetdemo We The Living by Ayn Rand

Though “We the Living” is one of Rand’s lesser known works of fiction, it is the most unforgettable. Set in the years immediately following the Bolshevik Revolution, it tells the story of Kira, a young woman facing the new communist regime, and her two lovers – Leo, an aristocrat and Andrei, a Party member.

Rand’s gritty narrative portrays the bleak life of non-proletarians in a totalitarian state, offset by the protagonists’ fierce determination to live life on their terms. Kira, Leo and Andrei, three people with different ideals stemming from common principles, unflailingly battle  their enforced destinies until the grim, yet triumphant climax.

A visceral, thought-provoking masterpiece. Read it…

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Free Press or Devolution?

There’s a book on Amazon called “A Pedophile’s Guide To Love and Pleasure”.

No, I’m not smoking pot. I read about this on TechCrunch. See for yourself.
http://www.techcrunch.com/2010/11/10/kindle-pedophile-book

Someone’s twisted enough to write this? I only hope the venture is a misguided money-making ploy, not a presentation of the author’s true views. I can’t believe Amazon’s sanctioning such a thing. As a writer, I’m all for freedom with words. But shouldn’t the line be drawn somewhere?

And people are actually downloading this disgusting tripe. It’s the 158,221st bestselling kindle book in the store.

Words fail me…

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