Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Year Of Fog & A Summer Without Dawn

Not only did the kids get better, but we all went skiing last weekend amidst snow showers as evidenced by our little snowman up there! Dads and kids did the skiing while I had fun sitting inside the rented cabin with other Moms and enjoying the falling snow, drinking coffee and taking a leisurely walk. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to ski but the weather seemed more for simple merriment rather than trying my first hand at skiing where one could fall many times over before getting the hang of it. The decision to postpone the inevitable was rather quickly taken if you know what I mean:-) Perhaps half the charm of being in the snow was knowing that our snow free hometown is only a few hours drive away.. True to form guess what we did just three days after getting back from the snow storm? Went biking around the block in near summer weather!!!! Only in California I think..

The Year Of Fog by Michelle Richmond

This beautiful book was finished in 2 sittings separated only by going to work and tending to kids' needs. Six year old Emma vanished in the few seconds that her step-mom-to-be Abby turned to take a picture in the foggy Ocean Beach of San Francisco. Michelle Richmond describes Abby's uncommon love for the lost girl with a realistic approach. The twists and turns in Abby's relationship with Emma's father is also realistically portrayed. As an extra perk, the way memory works in people under different circumstances is shown with the support of adequate research material. The way Abby rethinks the events of the day and picks through her memories even after Emma's own father has given up is far from the norm and intriguing. Abby's search is made conceivable to the reader through interesting visuals and thought processes.  Interesting to note that the fog on the beach of the initial chapters gets replaced with the fog of Abby's memories. Very good and quick read. All the beach and fog brought forth memories of House Of Fog and Sand which was a book and movie that I had liked. But they are not similar in any other way.

A Summer Without Dawn by Agop J. Hacikyan & Jean-Yves Soucy

This top of the line historical fiction is a must read for all. There is not much material on the authors in the web especially for Jean-Yves Soucy. Agop J Hazikyan is of Armenian descent and his background has done full justice to the story he is trying to tell. The authors have painstakingly portrayed the plight of a people while keeping it on a personal level by threading in the story of a particular family. I agree with the reviews that describe the book as the Armenian equivalent of a Dr. Zhivago or a Gone with the Wind  . Vartan Balian is an Armenian Christian who is an Army Reserve Officer in the Ottoman Empire around World War I. He is also a trained pharmacist and even this position of advantage and wealth does not help him and his family from what was to come. Maybe it was because Mother Teresa was from the same region of the Balkans (Albania) that I felt a quick affinity to this particular story. More than a million and quarter of Armenians were systematically eliminated in the Armenian Deportation procedures that started in 1915 during the Young Turks regime (the name Sublime Porte is also used) under Sultan Mehmed V and the three Pashas who wielded the real power. Armenians were asked to move from their ancestral homelands in the Ottoman Empire to far away lands with no intention of  letting them reach any destination. Vartan, his beautiful wife Maro and 10 year old son Tomas are noble, lovable characters and it is not surprising that we feel their sufferings as our own. The book served literally as a 'Porte' into the time around the downfall of the Ottoman Empire before the formation of the Republic of Turkey. Historical fiction at its best. Interesting fact for those who watch Food Network. Just learned that Chopped Judge Geoffrey Zakarian (a favorite of yours truly) is of Armenian descent. The last name ending in 'an' is common for Armenians it seems.

Below is a picture from my girl based on the entirety of our trip which started through rainy green meadows and centered around the snow cabin.