Butterfly Season

Title: Butterfly Seasonbutterfly-season-200x300
Author: Natasha Ahmed
ISBN: 9781927826553
Publisher: Indireads Inc.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

On her first holiday in six years, Rumi is expecting to relax and unwind. But when she is set up by her long-time friend, she doesn’t shy away from the possibilities. Ahad, a charming, independent, self-made man, captures her imagination, drawing her away from her disapproving sister, Juveria.

Faced with sizzling chemistry and a meeting of the minds, Ahad and Rumi find themselves deep in a relationship that moves forward with growing intensity. But as her desire for the self-assured Ahad grows, Rumi struggles with a decision that will impact the rest of her life.

Confronted by her scandalized sister, a forbidding uncle and a society that frowns on pre-marital intimacy, Rumi has to decide whether to shed her middle-class sensibilities, turning her back on her family, or return to her secluded existence as an unmarried woman in Pakistan.

We follow Rumi from rainy London to a sweltering Karachi, as she tries to take control of her own destiny.

Review:

Butterfly Season is a story of a contemporary Pakistani girl Rumi, who has spent the last years caring for her ailing mother. Now after her mother’s death, she has come to London to visit her younger sister and some old friends. Rumi has been a dutiful daughter, loyal friend, yet independent and hard working.

She has been the typical girl next door until she falls in love with Ahad, a Pakistani man living in London. Even though both come from the same cultural background, their lifestyle and perspectives couldn’t be more different and this creates a complicated situation.

Rumi’s dilemma now is to decide whether to drop her usual way of thinking (traditional and conservative) or adopt a more bolder and refreshing approach to love and life with Ahad. The story develops among the family and cultural issues and is an interesting view on the Pakistani expats and society.

This is a bold and refreshing take about the Pakistani culture, expectations and way of life among the women in Pakistan. I loved reading about the independent Rumi, who is willing to realise her dreams even if it comes at a price.

Butterfly Season has well fleshed out characters. I loved all the characters in the book, their conflicts and different perspectives create a multilayered drama the story. This can be the story of almost any woman living in today’s society, be it India or Pakistan. Butterfly Season is an enjoyable read wih great engaging writing style and interesting plot.

The Thirteenth Tale – Book Review

Author: Diane Setterfield

The Angelfield family is weird. First there were siblings Charlie and Isabelle and then Isabelle’s strange twins Emmeline and Adeline. The twins love violence. Pain is like candy for them. And they speak in a language no one else can understand. Their ignored, run down house is told to be haunted and no one likes approaching it. People die, things are vandalized and no one knows who does them. One of the twins? Or the ghost? Eventually, the mansion is burnt down to ashes and takes with it its secrets and the real story.

Fast forward to another part of the world at another time, Margaret Lea is a quiet book lover who helps her father run a book store. She receives a sudden letter from mysterious author Ms. Vida Winter to write her biography. Ms. Winter has hidden her past from the world and many journalists have failed to get her story. But one man in brown suit tempts Ms. Winter to tell the world her story with his statement – Tell me the truth.

Margaret travels to Ms. Winter’s secluded, secretive house and finally gets to meet the author face to face. The spine tingling story telling sessions happen in the grand library while Margaret spends rest of her time locked in her room. She is advised not to venture out in the rest of the house. But she does. When she hears humming from the maze of the garden. When she hears scraping sounds in the rain.

What is Ms. Winter’s story? How is she related to the Angelfield house? Who was the man in the brown suit? What happened to the twins? Is Ms. Winter’s story really the truth or is it another misleading yarn? How does Margaret come to terms with her own pain?

Diane Setterfield has woven a mildly gothic tale. The book is written in a very poetic manner, sometimes overly dramatic. All characters have an element of mystery, vagueness and anonymity. Even normal things seem peculiar.

This book is not just about thrill, it is also about love of books. Most of the narration happens in the book store or library. Margaret lovingly describes the book store that seems to be every book lover’s delight. Several analogies have been made for books, stories, authors and dead people who become biographies and stay alive. Every time there is a threat to books, the protagonist burns with regret and frustration. Those who love books and treat them like their most prized possessions will relate to this.

While I was reading the book, I visualized pale, white, cold faces of characters who stared at everyone with blank eyes. The mansion was grey and always wet. There was always a dark, depressing humming music in the background. This was the movie in my mind. For a person like me who cannot withstand horror, this much degree of suspense was just right.

The story picks up in the second half. Many may find the climax a bit let down but I was just relieved when the suspense was out!

Definitely a onetime read. I would rate it a 3 on 5.

Dollar Bahu

Quick Data

Author: Sudha Murty

ISBN: 10:0-14310-376-8

Price: 150 INR

The story plot is around money which is portrayed in the form of Dollar. How the dollar changes the relationships,way of living,the way of thinking and a human being in totality ! The story has three sets of couples-Gouramma-Shammana,Vinuta-Girish,Chandru-Jamuna.

Girish and Chandru are two sons apart from a daughter,Surabhi, of Gouramma-Shammana. Shammana being a school teacher all his life, they are a middle class family with no frills and laces attached to their simple life. But the wife ,who is  a dominant head of the house-Gouramma-dreams high and wishes at least one of her sons goes to the US of A and earn money dollars and uplift their lifestyle. Finally her dream, which is a remote possibility, comes true for Chandru. He is off to the US of A and starts earning in dollars and since he climbs the rungs of success pretty quickly he becomes a rich man and Gouramma realizes her dream of spending lavishly and buying costly silk sarees and the works.

The two sons get married one after the other. As obvious it seems-Girish gets married to a very simple-coming from a poor family-girl Vinuta. On the other hand since Chandru lives in the states and is a rich man he attracts rich alliances out of which he gets married to Jamuna-who is of course not a simple and sweet girl.

Yes,the real story begins.How Gouramma keeps praising the Dollar Bahu-Jamuna who lives miles away and keeps cursing Vinuta who is always there at her beck and call.Gouramma becomes the alice in wonderland and her fairy tale ends only when she has to live in the US with Chandru and Jamuna for Jamuna’s delivery. 12 months that Gouramma spends with Jamuna makes her realise the truth and the value of Vinuta.She realises that she has been wrong in judging her daughter-in-laws despite of her husabnd telling her the stark differnce between Vinuta and Jamuna.

Gouramma decides that once she goes back to India she will not repeat the same mistakes and will care for Vinuta. But back home-does Vinuta forgives Gouramma for her bad behavior all this while? Do they leave the bitter past behind and start a new life ?

I personally didn’t like the book much. It was very obvious.Very typical.Also,in the later half the book only talks about the [Indian] people’s relationships in the states.All the people that Gouramma meets in the states have had a rough patch in their relationships-this was not justified.I mean somewhere you start feeling that all the relationships in the states fail at some point in time resulting into a divorce.And these anecdotes become eye openers for Gouramma and she realise Vinuta’s worth ! The book also praises America for the freedom,organised culture,privacy,cleanliness and the works.But that’s that.

I won’t give it a MUST READ status !

My rating for this book is 2

Memory Keeper’s Daughter

Quick Data
Author: Kim Edwards
ISBN: 978-0-14-103014-2

Price: 295 INR

Website:Memory Keeper’s Daughter

The plot is based in the year 1964. The story begins with the winter night when Dr. David Henry has to deliver his own twins. First born is the son who is perfectly a healthy baby.And then the daughter is born.David  realizes there is something wrong with his new born daughter-the wrong called ‘Down’s Syndrome’. Within a fraction of second he decides that he is not going to tell his wife,Norah,about their daughter.He asks Caroline,his nurse,to take the baby to an institution. Caroline is reluctant but accepts to do this because of David.However on reaching the institution she is unable to leave the tiny bundle of joy just like that.It becomes difficult for her but finally she decides that she is not leaving the baby anywhere but keeping it with her.She informs David after some days that she has kept the baby with her.

Norah, on realizing that she had given birth to twins but lost her daughter, breaks from inside. Something changes between her and David that day. Norah becomes over protective about their son,Paul. But mothers are mothers and Norah could sense all the time that her daughter is somewhere near her. This thought keeps haunting her but David with all his conviction tells her that their daughter,Phoebe-that they had decided to name her,is no more in this world !

Paul and Phoebe are simultaneously growing up in different parts of the world but aren’t aware of each other’s existence. Phoebe has to fight with circumstances to make space in this world and Paul gets everything easily. David and Caroline are the only one’s knowing this family secret which binds everyone’s lives together.

Norah with every passing day becomes insecure and it affects their married life. As if this trauma was not enough for Norah, David passes away ! What happens to the secret ? Will Norah ever know that Phoebe is alive ?

The book is not totally about the syndrome but since one of the important characters of the novel suffers from it you will find traces about the syndrome throughout the novel.Kim has finely expressed about how a mother feels and what all she goes through on loosing a child. How a father, who himself decides to abandon his daughter, lives with the guilt and the secret within him.How their lives change from that one day.

Pluses: Gripping tale. You will surely want to know what exactly happens to the family secret.

Minuses: It’ s a lengthy read. At many places you will find that the story has been unnecessarily stretched into several pages.

I bought this book since I hadn’t read Kim Edwards earlier so it was the curiosity. And of course the story line which has been mentioned in excerpt is intriguing. It presents twists and turns of emotions. If at all emotional plots bore you please avoid reading this one.

My rating for this book is 2