Tag: thoughts

Book Review: The Age of Innocence (Edith Wharton).

The Age of Innocence.

–    Edith Wharton.

I picked up this book with few expectations because honestly, I didn’t know much about the writer or the novel itself. Once I started reading it though, I was delightfully surprised. I had to read a little about the age and times in America when the novel is set to make it easier for myself to understand the story in context.

The book begins with the impending marriage of Newland Archer and May Welland, enters May’s cousin the Countess Ellen Olenska who returns to New York City after many years living abroad. Newland is fascinated with the independent and worldly Ellen whose personality is in a way opposite of May’s personality. A sort of love triangle is formed in the story as the plot progresses with Newland, May, and Ellen. Newland is torn by his conscience to keep his promise to May while a part of him longs for freedom he could have with Ellen; the inner conflict of his character is relatable and human. The Age of Innocence is a social commentary about the society in the 1870s and their concerns with at times trivial things but the hypocrisy that persisted makes you cringe.

The novel is set in 1870’s New York City in the “Gilded Age” which I had to read about a little beforehand; it focuses on upper-class characters living in New York City. The main focus is on an upper-class couple who are due to get married when the bride’s cousin who is plagued by scandals arrives and suddenly the couple’s future becomes uncertain. The novel effectively comments about the society at that time in New York City; about their moral misgivings, hypocrisies and cruelties in the period before World War I and during it as well. The society shown in the novel has no proper sense left of cultural sensibilities and it is in a way of losing its cultural identity.

A tale about love, passion, society, irony, acceptance, and struggle; this book captures perfectly what the society was like at the time where their morals and ethics were questionable and they had drifted away from culture. This classic is definitely among the best and shouldn’t be missed out on.

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In My Dreams

In My Dreams

 

In my dreams I always find you,

Though in reality we are far apart.

In my dreams everything about us is rosy,

In reality it is grim.

I find a place to belong in my dreams,

Because I always end up in your arms.

Only in my dreams, you are mine,

And I am yours.

 

Know

Know

It is weird to say you know someone anymore

because that seems impossible.

You never really know someone, do you?

People keep changing and so do their feelings,

It doesn’t matter if you have known them for a year or all your life.

You can never really know someone and

you can never really know what you meant to them.

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Book Review: Veronika Decides to Die (Paulo Coelho).

Veronika Decides to Die.
– Paulo Coelho.

I bought this book on a whim after reading its synopsis and Veronika Decides to Die doesn’t disappoint. I finished the book fairly quickly and it constantly kept me engaged as a reader. Now, I might watch the movie adaptation as well.

The novel is a story about a 24-year-old girl Veronika who lives in Slovenia. Veronika seems to have everything going on for her, she herself admits this but still decides to kill herself. After Veronika’s suicide attempt she is admitted to a mental institution for treatment. She develops a heart condition because of overdosing on the pills and has only a few days left to live. In the institution, Veronika meets a number of people who have different mental issues like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

At Villete, she finally feels liberated from everything that bothered her before and slowly she feels like living again. The way Veronika describes the numbness that’s a part of her life is something many of us can relate to. There is a story that Zedka tells Veronika at the institution about a mad king; that story is so applicable and in a way makes lots of sense and it was one of my favorite parts of the story. The point of views keep changing throughout the novels and it gave a lot of insight into the characters minds.

The story slowly unravels or tries to unravel the reason Veronika felt the way she did and it makes sense for her as a character. The surprise of the story for me was Eduard, a schizophrenic patient at Villete who Veronika falls in love with. Eduard’s past is also heartbreaking and how circumstances led him to Villete and their love story is really cute.

Then there is the doctor at Villete, Dr. Igor. I didn’t understand in the beginning why he had chapters from his point of view but at the end it makes completes sense. All the characters in the book, add something important to the plot and to Veronika’s journey. After a hard couple of days, Veronika’s will to live is actually renewed. In the beginning, her heart condition doesn’t bother her as it was her aim to die. As the story progresses she realizes all the things she will miss out on and all the things she could do now. Finally, she starts to feel again hatred, love, frustration, hope, everything she probably hid away in herself for years.

The story is engaging and in a strange yet relatable way. When I bought the book I thought it will be too heavy and sad given its title but its surprisingly inspiring. It is an amazing book and it keeps you on the edge till the end and that ending; I didn’t see it coming whatsoever. The book just changed my perspective about the world. It is a must read.

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Mrs. Dalloway: Book Review

Mrs. Dalloway

–    Virginia Woolf.

I have been meaning to read Virginia Woolf’s books for years and finally, I read one. Mrs. Dalloway is the first book I read written by Woolf and there is not much to say other than that it is an amazing book.

Mrs. Dalloway is the most well-known novel by Virginia Woolf. The book was published in 1925. This novel details a day in the life of the high-society Clarissa Dalloway, who is the main character in the story. The setting of the story is important; it is set in the post-World War I England. There is just one day described in the novel is the day Clarissa is making preparations for a party. All the events that take place in the book occur during this one day. I thought this set a nice pace for the novel.

Once the story begins and the plot starts to unfold the secrets about Clarissa’s life that didn’t seem probable at the beginning. It was something I didn’t exactly see coming but it was an interesting surprise. The plot has two interwoven stories; one of Clarissa Dalloway and one of war veteran Septimus Warren Smith. The narration is from a third person point of view which gave an accurate description of the emotions these characters are experiencing. The narration definitely digs deep into the thoughts and emotions of the characters and has been described really well.

Clarissa and Septimus Warren are two characters who seem unconnected in the start but their stories actually run parallel to each other. The shifts in the narrative from Warren to Clarissa gave me enough time with both characters and in a way helps to understand them. The story shifts back and forth from the past to the present. This element of time, movement from past to present is used perfectly to hammer home what the characters think about the past while in the present. It is difficult to explain but it is intriguing never the less. It made it easier as a reader to empathize with these characters.

The effects of World War I are clearly depicted through the character of Smith who is having a hard time adjusting to civilian life and is broken by his experiences during the war. Mrs. Dalloway, on the other hand, seems to have everything she could want but in reality, is clearly struggling to cope with her emotions. The themes of love, loss and mental illness are depicted in a unique and powerful way which is somewhat subtle at the time but constantly present at the same time. The end of the novel stays true to the story and in a way seems unresolved. There is no forced happy ending to this novel. I prefer a resolved ending personally but the way the novel unravels it is not that surprising.

I liked the writing; it might be the first time I read a book whose plot takes place over one single day. The pace of the story is good, sometimes it might become too much so it cant be read overnight. The story and writing are so relevant to its themes and makes them relatable. The novel is a must-read.

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Only Once (Short story)

Only Once.

“Diane’s older son Chris, remember him? He is an engineer, just moved back here a month ago.” my mother said. I knew it was too much to expect her not trying to set me up.

I nodded uninterestedly. “Good for him,” I answered.

My mother sighed. I could feel the anger building up in her but she tried to be patient with me. “I think you should meet him. He is a decent fellow.”

I groaned, focused on my plate slowly losing interest in the food and this conversation while she continued talking. “It will be nice for you to go out once in a while. You haven’t been on a date in years approximately in three. Why do you never approve of the boys I choose! I only want you to be happy.”

The concerned tone of her voice as she finished her lecture made me cringe inwardly. It didn’t help with the irritation I was feeling. I know she wants the best for me but forcing me is not the way to go. “Mom I am happy.” she looked skeptical but I continued. “Really, I am. I have you and dad, I have great friends, a pretty good job where I make quite a lot of money if I may say so myself and a cute little place of my own. I have everything I want so why wouldn’t I be happy?” I asked putting a fork full of food in my mouth. Praying she will let this topic slide for now.

With no such luck she continued, “Aren’t you lonely? It’s nice having someone next to you through thick and thin.” she suddenly paused. Her voice was barely a whisper “You haven’t dated anyone since…Jayden.”

I stiffened. After all this time just hearing his name makes my heart beat faster; he still has such an effect on me, he always did and he knew it. It never really lessened. “I don’t know what happened between you two but it’s been three years. It’s time to move on, he is not going show up one day and whisk you away,” she said softly.

I closed my eyes. The pain of losing him was still fresh; it was always there. I simply hid it better or I learned to live with it. “Is it wrong to have hope?” I whispered more to myself than to mom but I know I sounded wishful but I couldn’t help it.

“No sweetie. It’s not wrong but you can’t spend the rest of your life hoping. You have to stop sometime.”

She is right. It’s nothing different than what I try to convince myself all the time. He is not going to come back. We belonged in different worlds. The world where we are meant to be doesn’t exist. We tried, it didn’t work. I said awful things to him I can’t take back and he didn’t choose me which he can’t change or won’t. I told him one day if things were different maybe we can find a way to be together. I won’t find someone like him again even if I tried; he was perfect for me in every way. I felt safe, understood and most importantly happiness whenever I was with him. Now it seems ironic!

I believed that but every day I believe a little less and a little less. I worry that I might completely stop believing in this, in him. Without that where do I stand? I know what I felt for him was once in a lifetime. I will fall in love again, someday but never like that. Not so completely and madly that I couldn’t think about anything but him; an all-consuming kind of love. Never again. It happens only once.

Kane and Abel by Jeffery Archer (Book Review)

Kane and Abel

– Jeffery Archer.

The story is about William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski; William the son of a Boston Billionaire banker while Abel is an orphan, penniless immigrant from Poland. The two main protagonists have nothing in common whatsoever except the date of their birth which is 18th April 1906, born in different continents on the same day. The plot follows the lives of these two successful men and the animosity and hatred they share, spanning for almost sixty years. It’s the first book I read written by Jeffery Archer and I have followed his works since reading this one.

The narration of the story alternates between the two characters; one chapter is for Kane than the next one is for Abel. This gives an insight into the characters in detail almost simultaneously and it makes us understand these characters and their journeys. For me, it made me invested in the characters. The chapters are so interesting that you almost wish that point of view wouldn’t shift to the other character in the next chapter.

The element of ‘time’ plays a role in the plot especially the historical context. The book follows the protagonist from their birth into childhood to teenage then to adulthood. Both the World Wars take place during the time period of the book. It plays nicely into the story.  Abel, who grew up in Russia occupied Poland before the Germans captured it during World War I. While William loses his father in the disaster of the Titanic and it changes the course of his life. This setting plays a role in the way the characters are shaped; it can be clearly seen.

The heart of this book is no doubt the two titular characters who hate each other but have never met. They are unaware of the fact that they have met before and their lives have intertwined. Both the characters struggle to get where they are successful and powerful. Abel’s struggle is at times basic survival. He suffers during World War I, his sister dies in front of him and it is really heart-breaking. Kane, on the other hand, struggles with family issues after losing his father yet has some sense of security all the time. Their struggles might be different but the trajectory of their lives is in a way similar. I felt that their personalities too are very similar even if they don’t like each other which is ironic.

The book is slightly on the longer side because it does cover a span of sixty years. It remains interesting and intriguing throughout. Its one of my all-time favorite books. It made me a fan of Jeffery Archer.

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Jane Austen’s Emma: Review.

Jane Austen’s Emma.

This book was a part of my syllabus for MA. I have to admit back then I didn’t read the book properly; there wasn’t much time so I simply went through it. Recently, I decided to read it thoroughly and I did. Emma is the first novel written by Jane Austen which I read. The novel revolves around the titular character Emma Woodhouse who is in a way an unlikely protagonist.

Emma is a person who thinks she has everything that she needs which she does but she believes she doesn’t need love or marriage in her life. Her beliefs are contradictory to her actions.  Emma likes to interfere in other people’s love lives; she fancies herself as a good matchmaker. When Emma meets Harriet Smith she decides to take Harriet under her wing. While Harriet is younger than Emma she in a way looks up to her.

Mr. Knightley is Emma’s sister Isabelle’s brother-in-law. Mr. Knightley warns Emma of her ways constantly; he is the voice of reason in her life but she never listens to him. I like the relationship between Emma and Mr. Knightley, it’s sort of will they or won’t they situation which is always fascinating for me. Jane is another character who is the only one Emma envies. Jane is talented, sensible, well-mannered and a bright girl.

Emma is a different novel in the sense the protagonist is not always likable. Sometimes, you can’t help but feel a little annoyed with her. The way she acts or decisions she makes made her unlikeable for me at times. It’s because of this that the novel is satisfying in the end. Emma becomes a better person and to an extent realizes her flaws. The growth of Emma’s character is natural and not forced.

Like I said before I liked the relationship between Emma and Mr. Knightley. The way Emma realizes she wants to be with Mr. Knightley is slightly funny but still realistic. As a reader, it’s always a good feeling when there is such a satisfying end to a relationship you root for. The fact that there was a happy ending for Jane and Harriet as well was a bonus for me.

I enjoyed reading this book. The story is light-hearted and engaging with unique and quirky characters. The writing of the novel is flawless; it is witty and amusing. Language-wise this book is not the easiest but not too much; it is easy enough. I was surprised by the fact that a protagonist seemed annoying to me at times, it hardly happens to me. Overall, I think it’s good. A light, fun and engaging book overall.

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Frustrations in Life

 

 

Sometimes, do you wonder when you open your eyes in the morning that all the bad things happening in your life are just a nightmare? The moment you open your eyes, things will change; they will get better. But life isn’t that simple is it?

This feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach refuses to go away. Your hopes, dreams, expectations have only one enemy and that is reality. Nothing seems to be going your way, you feel lost and defeated. One thought swirling in your mind all the time, if this is all life is going to be like for you?

The unanswered question is the biggest reason for your frustration. So many doubts overwhelming your mind all at once and there seems to be no end to the negativity in your head. Where is the thrill, the magic you have always wanted? You can’t seem to find the path to your destiny. Is growing up really this complicated? You wish someone would understand you, give advice and not judge. Be there by your side making sure you don’t fall.

Why does every aspect of life seem harder when you are stuck. As far as you can see there is only a road and you have no idea.

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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetyus: Book review

My review of the book,

“Between Shades of Gray” – Ruta Sepetys

*SPOILERS*

I found this book when I was browsing through the lists of War and Historical novels on different site. This book immediately caught my attention because it takes place during the World War II and it’s about a Lithuanian girl. Now when it comes to studying the history of World War II, the Baltic States were never more than mentioned in textbooks. Basically, this is a part of History which I never read or studied about before and it completely fascinated me.

The book is about Baltic Deportations with the main focus on Lithuanian citizens who were deported by the Soviet in 1941 to prison and labor camps. The protagonist of the story is a fifteen-year-old girl named Lina and her family when they are taken from their home and sent to a labor camp somewhere in Siberia. Lina and her mother and brother are together while their father is separated from them that night. The author doesn’t spend much time focusing on the lives of Lina and her family when they were still at home together in the beginning and starts straight up with the night they are taken away. The story is not by any means an easy read.

The descriptions of the treatments these prisoners were given and their living conditions are crudely depicted; there is no sugar-coating just the harsh reality. It makes you cringe while reading it. The emotions of the characters and their reactions to the harsh situation they face are very realistically and naturally portrayed. It never seems out of place or over the top because there are so many characters which are important to the plot and each character’s personality is reflected in the writing.

Lina, her mother Elena and her younger brother Jonas have to learn to survive through brutal conditions with people who share a similar faith to them. Elena is a powerful character as she holds their little group together throughout the terrible ordeal and is incredibly kind. Andrius is a guy who Lina and her family meet on the cattle train on the way to Siberia. He is sort of a love interest for Lina though that is never the main focus and he is so much more than that. Lina is a good artist and is constantly capturing their stories on paper in drawings and sketches. She draws in hope of leaving clues behind for their father to find them and also preserve their stories and sufferings.

It is unbelievable to expect such kindness and care in such situations but throughout the story, all the characters help each other survive and are always kind to one another no matter how little they themselves have. It shows that even in worst situations compassion and kindness actually help someone survive. At no point, Lina gives up or thinks that she doesn’t want to live anymore even though the circumstances keep getting worse. These characters show so much spirit and survival instinct all the while helping each other through it.

This book breaks your heart from start to finish and it is quite difficult to get through because of the powerful depictions. The plot moves ahead at a good pace with flashbacks about the life before capture which somehow is parallel to Lina’s present in the camp. Lina’s drawings in a way preserve the memories of fellow survivors and their sufferings, the stories which were unheard of for decades that followed. The stories about the Baltic states are largely unheard of and this book depicts the displacement and genocide of people who were deported by the Soviet Union. It is a hard-hitting book but it is a book which you should read, it is a part of history which is relatively unknown to many.

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