Monday, May 30, 2011

Elizabeth Berg's Books

High BP invaded the house quite unawares and its medications had the most uncommon but listed side effects, and life's been in the doldrums. The ongoing remodeling came to a halt and priorities changed overnight. Having a doctor for a brother only a call away (and willing to listen for any lengths of time) in this country where the doctors mostly diagnose you for the 5 minutes you are in their office helped more than I can say. Family support from both ends held us together and friends in need were great too. Finally it looks like we are past the nightmare and can relax a bit. When life seems to take the carpet from under your feet, prayers give you strength. Childhood prayers that lolled though the house every morning and evening came to our aid in time of need. Taking heart from this we hope to impart some of it to the kiddos. Hope they will be able to channel this candle in the water that will burn for you in times of trouble - to paraphrase a famous Disney song. Setting aside the dutiful and conveniently short prayers, we have started what we hope to be the beginning of a long history of family prayers. Needless to say the novelty of a structured prayer is holding the kids up through the longer time for the moment. I remember my own impatience as the rosaries stretched long every day with no end in sight and yet how comforting it always is! It is a ritual that anchors you in familial love and in devotion to a higher power that keeps you secure.

I didn't mean to go that much off the subject but guess it had to be. Since books are my major form of relaxation I couldn't wait to get a bunch at the the first chance in a long time. Lucky for me I chanced upon Elizabeth Berg again. This writer as I knew then is just what you need in such times. She is an ultimate woman's writer and instead of fishing for angst and rage she manages to bind her characters with love, empathy and kindness while not being overly so. Her sensible characters go through life with real experiences and come to the most amicable conclusions after facing plausible soul searching episodes. An aphrodisiac if you are looking for something gentle and engaging. I wish her the best and hope she will write as many books as she can so her subtle message of love and civility will reach more people. I finished True To Form and The Year of Pleasures in 2 days! The former is told through the eyes of a budding teenage girl who lost her mother and is finding her own way in the world. What is great is how she picks up on the love of people around her even when it is not so demonstrative. It is that awareness of true and gentle love among all layers of people and its understanding that will form the person that she is. Great great book. I could easily see the 13 year old me in her:-) The second book is about a well loved and protected wife who is forced to find the meaning of life anew when her husband dies. Berg portrays her decisions and how she mourns rather well and while some parts could be said as piling it on (the warm cozy), still manages to remain true to her basic message in a reliable story fabric. I am going back to get more of her books.

In a rather sad but not really so aside, I have to say that my trusty Library has just decided to charge us yearly for its wonderful service because although we live near it, we don't fall in its service area. Being superior to what we have in our service area, I will be ponying up the money for sure. Just hope that it won't keep going up each year though.. Isn't it odd that all the Elizabeth's I have come across are good writers that cater to the reader in me? Could it be because I am partial to them for carrying my sister's baptismal name? On other news I have drafts of a few fantastic books I had read earlier and will be posting those in the coming weeks. Till then go find Berg and have one on me. K?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Visit and a Book

Little did we know that we will be flying to tornado country when we booked tickets to spend Easter with my brother and family. Luckily for us, we managed right under the ravaging weather radar and came back safe and sound. Our prayers for those who were caught unawares. Yes, we went to Pioneer Woman's state although we didn't spot her and even had food at Sonic. It was really good to spend this holiday with family. Afterwards we drove 5 hours to the neighboring state to see my alma mater in US (pictured above is the ornate top of the oldest building on campus) after wrangling a dinner invite from my graduate adviser. It was quite a gratifying trip and the family enjoyed revisiting my old habitats. Weather too decided to be lenient while we were roaming around campus. When we visited the downtown I realized that I had never visited it during my time there! My husband and I would like to actually move there, as the green and sprawling university town is just what the doctor ordered for bringing up a nice little family. Hold your horses, we are not moving yet, for such is the travails of life that these decisions cannot be made lightly... So here we are back in sunny benevolent California, obediently spinning the daily wheel of life.

In expectation of my sister's visit from India in summer we are doing some much needed repair ( remodeling sounds better. eh?) to our house. I am holding my breath until the work is over because I just cannot tolerate dust and so much hegemony inside my sanctuary. But we cannot really escape it if we have hopes of living in the house long term. OK, so that was all about the visit and what is the latest and greatest here. Now for the book.

An Atlas of Impossible Longing
 The main reason I bought the book was because I wanted something to keep me occupied during the flight especially since the kids are older now and the husband came prepared with his newly acquired Nook. I just need to hold paper between my hands which is why I don't own the Kindle that he tried to get me. So off I went browsing the airport bookstore and this book caught my eye despite there being hundreds of good books around. I hope to go back to that book store another time just to note down titles for future reads. Didn't have much time to spend there during this trip. Lack of time is also the reason why I thought this was Arundhathi Roy's second book instead of Anuradha Roy's first book. It is also what made me think the coconut trees on the book cover shows Kerala instead of West Bengal! Only after getting on the plane and settling down did I realize the mistake. Undaunted, I started to read the book and a few pages were enough to tell me the mistake was actually a find! Anuradha Roy is a gifted writer with a great perception for people from all walks of life. The book envelopes the reader in a nostalgic past that you will totally get even if you are not from that part of India. Story spans three generations of an old family in Bengal starting with pre-independance India and is sort of centered around a house on the banks of a river. The house is not the one lived in by the family in question but comes out as a central character. Roy's other job is as an independent publisher in India. If you come across this book you will know what to do now. We had four flights to take in all and that is about the time it took me to finish the book!