Wednesday, 30 April 2014


This is the fourth book in my top ten list. Neither does this book nor does this author need any introduction. Jeffrey Archer is an institution in himself and his books are flawless and a sheer delight to be read. He is one of my favourite authors and I still enjoy reading his books. Of all his books, this one is very dear to me as this was my fisrt Archer novel and incidentally, this was his first novel too.
Harvey Metcalfe, over 40 years,is a corporate mogul who is an expert in shady deals. But this time by selling inflated oil stock, he has cheated the wrong men - Stephen Bradley, an American professor at University of Oxford, Dr Robin Oakley, a Harley Street physician, Jean-Pierre Lamanns, a French art dealer with a gallery in London, and James Brigsley, heir to an earldom. Each had invested their hard earned money to buy the stock of Matcalfe's company and suffered when it failed. Bradley learns of Metcalfe's participation in the fraud and organizes the other three to get their money back. They are to each come up with a plan to steal the money, which is rightly theirs, using Metcalfe's inetrests and weaknesses. The story ends very dramatically with these four men not only being able to get their money back but the price of their shares in Metcalfe's company also goes up, making their shares worth over a million. 
I must have read this book atleast a dozen odd times but the thrill, the excitement and the nerves is still the same while reading the book and thinking, "Will they or won't they?"
It is truly a page turner and a book which I had yet again read it in December, last year, when I had gone to Guwahati.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


 This is another one of my favourite books. To many, Danielle Steel is a candy floss author who writes romantic novels, which are all too similar in their plot with lots of cliches and lacking substance. But to a young girl of 15-16years, her novels are very interesting , with their strong female characters who go through so many difficulties in their lives to finally attain happiness and live "happily ever after". 
I have gone through a phase, where I used to read only Danielle Steel. This was when I was studying in the Army School, Guwahati, in my 11th and 12th standard. Though I have not read her books in the past decade or so, I still vividly remember this book of hers'- ZOYA. The first thing that drew me to this book was the name Zoya. I really liked this name and had wanted to name my elder daughter Zoya, though that did not happen!
 As with all her novels, this novel also has a strong female central character, Zoya, who is a cousin of the Czar of Russia. She flees from Russia during the Russian Revolution with her grandmother and goes to Paris, where she joins a ballet company. Much against the wishes of her grandmother, she falls in love with an American and moves to New York with him. But her happiness is short lived as she endures great hardship during the Great Depression and the World War 2, wherein her husband dies and leaves her all alone. She again falls in love with a rich cloth merchant, who too later dies in an another war. The story ends with how Zoya lives her life through all her difficulties, with her head held high, on her own terms.
The historical setting and the detailed description of the Russian history, is what makes this book so interesting. Danielle Steel has done a fabulous job in seamlessly fitting the fictional characters in the actual historical events, thus making the story almost real and believable.
This is a book which given a chance I would read even today, if ,just to check whether it still has the same charm and whether it can still interest me, as it had done so many years ago.

Monday, 28 April 2014

MY TOP TEN FAVOURITE BOOKS : Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon

We all have had some incidents in our lives which have made us, what we are today. Similarly, certain books that we read during our formative years leave a profound mark on us.
My childhood was spent in the magical company of Enid Blyton, early teenage years with P.G.Wodehouse and after this came the best growing up years, spending hours reading books by Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer, Danielle Steel, Eric Segal, John Grisham and many more.
It was Papa, himself a voracious reader at one time, who made me buy my first adult novel, Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon, at the age of 16, after I had finished my 10th board exams.
The story centres around Jamie McGregor and his journey from being penniless to being the owner of diamond mines. The story then moves to the next McGregor generation, Kate, Jamie's daughter who pours her life into Kruger-Brent( her father's company) with passion, making it a global conglomerate. But this success comes with a very heavy price, as Kate by her shrewd manipulations tries to run her husband and later her children's lives, which alienates her from all her loved ones. The story ends on Kate's 90th birthday party where all her relatives are present and she still firmly believes that she acted in the best interest of all.
I am a Sheldon loyalist and I have read almost all his books, but this being my first Sidney, I like this story the best and is my top pick. Hence this book appears in my list of my favourite top 10 books.   


 Enid Blyton needs no introduction. Her name is synonymous with story books for young children. We have all grown up devouring her books, be it the Famous Five series or The Secret Seven or Malory Towers.
 I am particularly a tad too much fond of one of her series, which is MALORY  TOWERS.
So I start my list with MALORY TOWERS.  It is one of my favourite childhood series. The world of an all girls hostel, fun-loving girls, snooty girls,midnight feasts,cat fights, lacrosse games, endless pranks and the mouth watering food - fascinated me so much, that I insisted my parents send me to a hostel. Just remembering the story has got a smile on my face now. 
 The series follows the heroine Darrell Rivers from her first year at Malory Towers to when she leaves. The other significant characters include Sally Hope (Darrell's level-headed best friend), Felicity Rivers (Darrell's younger sister), Gwendoline Mary Lacey (the spoilt and snotty girl, who has been instructed by her mother to comb her beautiful golden hair a hundred times very night before going to bed!!!), Alicia Johns (sharp tongued, competitive, class joker and intelligent and who is the mastermind behind every prank played in school), Mary-Lou (small and timid, but very kind hearted), Irene (scatterbrained music genius), Belinda (scatterbrained artistic genius), Jean (shrewd and straightforward) and Wilhelmina 'Bill' (completely horse-mad). 
My favourite character in this series besides Darrell was Alicia. How I wished to be as wirtty, as intellegent, as happy-go-lucky as her. And the character whom I loved to hate was Gwendoline Mary. 
I have read this series umpteen times and given a chance, I would even today read it. How I love Enid Blyton and her amazing world of books. 

Friday, 25 April 2014


 A very dear friend of mine, Ketan, gave me this idea of writing about my favourite books for a blog post. At that time, I had very confidently told him that it would be a piece of cake. But as it always happens with me, here I am, made to eat the humble pie by my own laziness and sheer inability to finalise the list. After dilly dallying for almost a week, I finally decided that it's high time I write about my favourite books.

Though Babaji, my paternal grandfather used to read aloud a lot of comics to me, it was only when I reached 4th standard did I start reading story books. And for this I have to thank my childhood friend Shraddha Beria who introduced me to the fabulous world of Enid Blyton's books. The first book which I read was The Naughtiest Girl in School. I can even today remember the effect of utter amazement and mesmerisation the story had on me. I was completely hooked to this beautiful world of words and pages and fiction and visualisation. I am completely in awe of the great authors who weave such magical stories that they seem so real to me. And how can I not write about the smell of the crisp new pages of a book. I love to smell the book, when I first buy it before reading it. Hence,a bookshop is always my favourite place to be. 

But now I should come back to the main topic, which is a list of my favourite books. The list is in no particular order. But instead of disclosing it here, I plan to write about one book everyday, for the coming 10days. Hope you enjoy this journey with me. And I would love to hear from you all about your favourite books too. 

Monday, 14 April 2014


"Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly,into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul" -  Joyce Carol Oates.
How aptly said. We have all experienced this feeling, this helplessness, not once, but several times in the hands of many a story-teller. My first brush with story telling and the amazing world of books was through Babaji, my paternal grandfather, who was a story teller par excellence. He made the whole experience interesting with his special sound effects and voice modulations. Undoubtedly, one of my very precious childhood memories. 
This book, Gardens Of Water caught my eye in Crossword(a bookstore in my city, Kolkata) where I had taken my two girls for their stationery shopping. It's bright yellow cover literally made me stop and pick it up and once I read it's synopsis, I had to buy it. Vamika, my older daughter made fun of me, saying that I can never leave a bookstore without buying a book or two. True but not something which embarrasses me. 
Let's talk shop now - Gardens Of Water by Alan Drew is a story set in Turkey and is about a Kurdish family who had to flee from their homeland and were now residing in the suburbs of Istanbul. Sanin, runs a grocery with his brother-in-law Ahmet, his wife Nilofer, manages the house and they have two children- Ismail, a young, happy, lively 9year old boy and Irem, a beautiful 15year old girl, who feels that her father only loves Ismail and she hates being cooped up in the house all day long working along with her mother. Sinan is working hard to provide for his family and at the same time is finding it very difficult to put a check on Irem's growing resentment and frustration on the restrictions imposed on her. To add to Sinan's problems is an American family who live in the same building as Sinan. Irem is attracted to Dylan, the young son of the American couple.  The delicate stability of this family is shattered away when a massive earthquake hits the area where Sinan is living with his family. In the wake of this natural disaster, Sinan looses his home and his livelihood, and is forced to take shelter in the temporary camp set up by the American missionaries working in that area. It is here in this camp, Sinan, who distrusts the Americans but is forced to accept their help, finds himself in situations, which are dangerous not only in the physical sense but also on ethical and moral grounds. Nilofer and Sinan find themselves very helpless in the face of such situations and are forced to take some very dangerous and frightening decisions which alter their lives forever. 
Turkey , it's culture, it's people, their religious sentiments, their ideologies, their belief - author Alan Drew has done a good job in depicting it all with the right amount of emotion. 
Whenever I read a book, there is always this one character with whom I can totally relate with. Here, it is Sinan, the father. The pride of a father for his children, the protective streak of a parent for his children, the helpless anger in the face of a rebelling child, the unconditional love for his children- these are emotions which as a mother I can totally empathise with. Though I cannot comment as to how I would ideally react to any of the situation Drew writes in his book, but , I can surely understand the angst, the love, the anger, the sense of ultimate betrayal which Sanin feels in the course of this story. At the same time, one can truly empathise with Irem and the reasons why she chose to rebel against her upbringing and her internal struggle, in doing something which is the opposite of all that she has been taught by her parents. Similarly I can feel the pain of Nilofer, an obedient, dutiful wife and mother who takes immense pride in being declared a good woman by the society and is completely broken when certain incidents occur, post the earthquake in the refugee camp, where they are forced to live on the charity of the missionaries. And then there is young Ismail, who though survives from the clutches of death, is not able to fully recover from the emotional and mental scars of the earthquake. 
This is a story which is written from the heart. It is not a brilliantly written book which will leave you with a feeling of awe but it is one of those books which will leave you feeling more human. This book will make you realise that though we humans, now belong to the modern civilised society, following societal rules, but , when nature unleashes her fury, then is the actual test of our civilised behaviour , in the face of survival being paramount in the minds of every individual. 
There is one line said by a character in this book to Sinan, which sums up my experience of this book. The line goes, " Our children are not ours. That's our mistake. We think they are. It seems so for a while - a few brief years - but they aren't. They never were. "