Saturday, 12 September 2015

BOOK REVIEW : SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN by LISA SEE



CHINA... A country with the highest population( at one point of time), the country with the fastest moving economy( till recently), a country which cannot claim to be best friends  with India, a country which is zinxed for Niraj( he fell sick both the times he went there...:)) ..So atleast my family has no plans ever to visit China... Not that not being able to go to China ever bothered me... But now after reading The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, I want to go there once and visit the places See talks about in her story and meet the natives who would share with me their experiences and their long lost stories about those forgotten times....
See has written a beautifully poignant story of a young girl and how her life moves ahead with the changing times and situations....
Lily is a third child born into a family of farmers... She is an unwanted child as girls were considered worthless during that time by the Chinese.. It was only boys who were desired and were supposed to seal a woman's fate in her husband's house and life. She craves for her mother's love and attention... This was the age of the acutely painful Foot Binding ( statistics claim that one out of every 10 girls died as a result of this inhuman practice) and Lily happily jumped into it, hoping to win her mother's love!! But it was not to be so as her mother was driven by her own demons and had her own motives and reasons for being the way she was!!!
She gets married and goes to live with her husband and his parents. Here, she learns how the other better half live and she quickly learns all the tricks and manners of the rich and soon becomes famous and admired and looked upon as Lady Lee.. The mistress of the Lee household. But between her marriage and the fame and modesty and maturity she acquires is a journey full of doubts, jealousy, love, insecurity, ego, pain, suffering and regrets...
Lily and her laotong Snow Flower...laotong  mCHINA... A country with the highest population( at one point of time), the country with the fastest moving economy( till recently), a country which cannot claim to be best friends  with India, a country which is zinxed for Niraj( he fell sick both the times he went there...:)) ..So atleast my family has no plans ever to visit China... Not that not being able to go to China ever bothered me... But now after reading The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, I want to go there once and visit the places See talks about in her story and meet the natives who would share with me their experiences and their long lost stories about those forgotten times....
See has written a beautifully poignant story of a young girl and how her life moves ahead with the changing times and situations....
Lily is a third child born into a family of farmers... She is an unwanted child as girls were considered worthless during that time by the Chinese.. It was only boys who were desired and were supposed to seal a woman's fate in her husband's house and life. She craves for her mother's love and attention... This was the age of the acutely painful Foot Binding ( statistics claim that one out of every 10 girls died as a result of this inhuman practice) and Lily happily jumped into it, hoping to win her mother's love!! But it was not to be so as her mother was driven by her own demons and had her own motives and reasons for being the way she was!!!
She gets married and goes to live with her husband and his parents. Here, she learns how the other better half live and she quickly learns all the tricks and manners of the rich and soon becomes famous and admired and looked upon as Lady Lee.. The mistress of the Lee household. But between her marriage and the fame and modesty and maturity she acquires is a journey full of doubts, jealousy, love, insecurity, ego, pain, suffering and regrets...
Lily and her laotong Snow flower...LAOTONG  meaning soul mates.. Friends for life.. One who is always there for the other.. In deeds, in actions, in prayers, in laughter, in joy!!! And the secret women's language NU SHU... A language meant only for women..an interesting method through which Chinese women shared their thoughts amongst themselves away from the prying eyes of men...
How interesting... I wish we had something like this too... We do have friends - some casual, some really close - our besties.. Though we share everything with our besties but its nothing like the LAOTONG of that era. And imagine a secret language which only we women could understand and use.. I am sure it would lead to a major revolution and an overhaul of power between men and women.. What say.. Atta girls!!!!
Another thing which really attracted me and I found very different are the terms See uses to describe the various chapters in Lilly's life...like the Daughter Days which talks about Lily's childhood,Hair -Pinning Days which talk about her betrothal and her marriage, Rice and Salt Days to talk about Lily becoming a mother and her mommy days and finally Sitting Quietly which talks about Lily in her last years when she has nothing but to look back into her life and remember all that took place in her life shaping it the way it is now...
I loved the story and could relate to certain incidents so well that I literally got tears in my eyes.....
I would say yes to this book because it gave me a beautiful chance to have a rare glimpse into a life so far fetched from ours, yet so similar in many ways...
Awesome!!!



Saturday, 5 September 2015

BOOK REVIEW : THE HUSBAND'S SECRET by LIANE MORIARTY



What if" - Is this not one of our favourite expressions??? Don't we always wonder how our lives would have changed had a few "what if's" come true???
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty is loosely based on this commonly used phrase "WHAT IF"..  My dear friend Sri recommended this book to me and I needed this one after the intense book, Bridges of Constantine.. I have written about Sri in one of my earlier posts too.. She is my confidant and a true book lover ( which makes me incline towards her all the more..:)))
This story is about three women and how their seemingly perfect ordinary lives change overnight, changing the very equation of relationships!!!
Cecilia Fitzpatrick - a superwoman( seriously!!) mother of three daughters, a Tupperware consultant and an excellent homemaker comes across a letter written by her husband addressed to her, with an instruction , "To be opened after my death"... Will she open it ( while her husband is away on a business trip) or will she be able to control her curiosity and leave it unopened.. And what happens if and when she reads that letter???
Cecilia's situation is just like that of Pandora who opened the box of secrets, unknowingly opening up a can of problems for mankind.. In her defence all Pandora could say was, "No one ever warned me not to open it".. Poor Pandora, how was she supposed to know???
Then we have Tess, short for Teresa,  who is happily married to a wonderful person Will and has a young son named Liam.. Felicity (Tess's cousin), Will and Tess run an advertising firm together.. Tess thinks she is in a very happy zone but reality knocks her badly when Will and Felicity break news about their affair to her. Now how Tess reacts and what happens to her happy family is to be read....
The third female protagonist is Rachel, a mom who lost her daughter when she was murdered at a young age of 20 and the worst part is that murderer has still not been caught!! She was heartbroken and started looking forward to life only after the birth of her grandson who is now 2+. But her life is again set to crumble as her son and daughter-in-law plan to shift base to America taking her grandson along!!
Cecilia, Tess and Rachel, three distinct individuals, who are mere acquaintances but destiny has their lives entwined in such a manner that one person' s action has manifold ripple like effect in the others' lives...
Its a light read, not something which will make you think deep or make you uncomfortable about certain long held beliefs.. But it is definitely a page turner and it keeps you hooked till the very last page. This very feature says a lot about the capability and sheer brilliance of a good storyteller, which Moriarty undoubtedly is!!!
As a woman, mother and wife I could really relate to the story especially Cecilia's as I too started imagining what would I do IF I  ever find a similar letter written by Niraj!!
Interesting thought right...
The part which I thoroughly enjoyed in the book was the Epilogue... Here Moriarty writes about many What If incidents that would have changed the lives of the three central characters a full 360 degree , giving the readers a delightful visual imagining the variety of ways in which the story could have shaped and this interesting book would have ended!!!
Another reason for enjoying this book is that I am a true follower of this expression, WHAT IF... I can spend hours imagining and visualising different scenarios of my life by permutation and combination of various WHAT IF's...My favourite one is " what if I had not taken up commerce in class 11 and had taken up English literature and then would have pursued writing as my career.. Ahhhhh!! Just talking about this makes me smile... Am truly senile!!
But life is not made up of what if's nor does it wait for us to leisurely think of such inane scenarios... So here I am in my mid 30's trying my best to carve a niche with my writing!!!
Enough about me...
You all carry on with your lives and enjoy reading this book and imagining your "what if" situations.....
An excellent way to spend an idle Sunday...Bliss