Friday, September 28, 2007

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

Title: A Poetry Handbook
Author: Mary Oliver

ISBN: 0156724006

Publisher: Harcourt

Pages: 122

Mary Oliver is one of my favourite poets. However, this book is not about her poetry. According to the book cover, this book is a prose guide to understanding and writing poetry. Both beginner poets can read this book as well as those who love to read poetry.

She emphasise on reading a lot of poetry. One should read as much poetry as one can and as many poets. She asks us not to go overboard as we can never read every poet. Although we should try to read poetry from wide and varied eras. Learning to write poetry has to start from reading it.

Imitating is not a bad idea as no two poems can be similar. Each poet puts something of his or hers into it. Use of imagery, metaphors should be done in a rhythmic way and we should not go about those just for the heck of it.

She has taught us about different kinds of sounds, intonations, diction, tones and voice. Only when we master these, we can strive for writing better. Different forms of poetry have been explained taking poems by well-known poems. I especially liked ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’ by William Carlos Williams.

Mary Oliver says that we need to revise and re-revise our work before we consider it done. It might take a few days. We might even reject it which is again, not a bad idea.

Workshops help us honing skills, teach us the ropes of poetry writing, critiques help us but after a while, it is us who has to come out on our own. We have to learn to be keen observers, to imbibe all that surrounds us and interpret it in our own way. We have t0 learn to be comfortable with ourselves. That is how we can write some good poetry.

'A Poetry Handbook' is a very interesting book even if you do not write a single word of poetry. It teaches to look at poetry in a different way, to find out meanings, which we might miss at first glance. It might not be a poetry book but it is about poetry and is poetic in a sense. I am glad I possess this book and I can leaf through it any time I want too. I know I would be learning something new every time I open it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Booking through buying a book for a friend

What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?

I usually buy books for my friends on any given occasion or otherwise too. Most rely on my judgement for good books. It depends on which friend and what taste. As for me, I can read most about anything. That can't be said for most people. For my best friend, I would go for travelogues. She loves those. Any book by Bill Bryson is ok for her. For another friend of mine, I would buy Brenda Joyce romances. She thrives on those. For that matter, any kind of romances sans pornography.

I have forgotten the number of copies of Alice in Wonderland, I have gifted to kids. Nowadays kids prefer Tolkiens, Rowling and C S Lewis, in no particular order. So I end up buying those authors too along with classics. Jane Austen never goes wrong!


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Title: Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Author: Thomas Hardy
ISBN-10: 0141439599
Publisher: Penguin Classics/ 592 pages

Tess of the D’Uerbervilles is a very poignant novel. I re-read it recently after 25 years gap. Hardy's usual pastoral idyll is present here but this is thrown into powerful contrast by the increasingly bleak events that overtake the hopeless Tess as she progresses.

Hardy focuses on many themes throughout the book, mostly on the feminine role and social class. Tess Durbeyfield realizes her social struggle when she caused an accident to happen sending her family into financial need. With the recent discovery of their family's lineage to be that of the once very prominent D'Urbervilles, Tess is sent off to her wealthy relatives. The relatives in reality are not D'Urbervilles, only a family that had taken the name because questionable activity was attached to their old name. Alec D'Urberville realizes Tess's financial need and uses it against her to join him at his mother's estate. He holds the blackmail of economic need over Tess's head until he eventually takes advantage of her. The pregnant Tess, as an unmarried woman isolated from others, escapes home to have her baby.

Tess's baby dies, leaving her to start over at Talbothay's Dairy. Finding real love in Angel Clare, he convinces Tess to marry him. She tries to tell him of her past only to have him refuse to hear her each time. After their wedding, Clare admits his previous sexual experience asking for forgiveness and receiving it. When Tess relates her story, he can no longer be with her. Men's double standards are shown. Clare leaves her for Brazil to decide if they could fix matters. During his long extended absence, Tess is reduced to farm labour. Her father dies and her family is evicted from their home. Her economic welfare falls again into Alec D'Urberville’s hands. He persuades Tess to be his wife because her real husband was never going to coming back.

Clare comes back to find his wife living with D'Urberville. Tess, in a moment of revelation, avenges the wrongs of D'Urberville by killing him. Clare for all his faults takes on the now fugitive Tess. They have a few days of paradise together before she is taken away for D'Urbervilles murder. Tess understands that this is how it has to be. She will be able to die before Clare can despise her again. She dies a fulfilled woman, "'I am ready,' she said quietly"

Tess grows up fast, having to deal with the wrongs of humanity, her social class, a noble lineage, and the renewal of her true self. Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a novel that can surpass the ages as a heartbreaking tale for any reader who believes in redemption and compassion for the all-encompassing heroine.

Gender roles and social class issues are unashamedly raised with no subtlity. Love story or social issue awareness, the beloved heroine, innocent, strong, loving, and pure will reach into one's heart and capture it forever in the world of fairy tales and happy conclusions despite its tragic end.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Title: My Sister’s Keeper
Author: Jodi Picoult
ISBN: 13: 9781416549148
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre/Pages: Fiction/500

Very surprising that I had not read any Jodi Picoult before this. I have heard of her but somehow missed reading her books. I picked two of her books yesterday and started reading ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ as soon as I got home. It kept me hooked until the end.

Anna was conceived meticulously with a genetic match for her sister Kate, who is diagnosed with APL, a fatal kind of leukaemia. By the time she is thirteen, she has undergone numerous surgeries, transfusion etc for her older sister. She had no say in those. Now, she questions her parents’ decision and wants to lead a normal life apart from her sister. She goes and hires a lawyer, Campbell Alexander to represent her.

From there starts the conflict. Her decision affects her family, her mother Sara, father Brian, Brother Jesse and of course her sister Kate. In a way, Anna is defined in terms of Kate. All are torn apart. Brian somewhat understands her predicament but Sara cannot see beyond Kate. Jesse has been ignored for as long as he remembers.

The most important question asked here is that do parents have the right to decide on behalf of a minor to donate her/his organs for her/his sibling? Does she/he have any say in the matter? With a sick child, who needs constant care, the other children are neglected. There is lack of time, money and patience to give attention to the other kids in the family. In a way, Anna is lucky because without her support, Kate cannot survive. Jesse is taken for a gone case. He is totally ignored as he is of no use to Kate. Despite all this, we see him feeling greatly for both his sisters even though he is helpless.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Title: The Art of War
Author: Sun Tzu

ISBN-10: 159308-016-6

Publication: Barnes and Nobel classics

Genre/pages: Non-fiction/255

This is a timeless writing that is applicable to all aspects of life - not just the philosophy of waging war. We have artillery and now stealth and precision, the reminder that "no two wars are alike" and "it is flexibility that makes a difference" is being shown today to still be true. Even in today's wars, there is a need for good intelligence and deception. Sun Tzu shows the advantage in specialized units and crack troops.

This book is brilliant, and reading it is a tremendous experience. Sun Tzu is the master, and The Art of War is a masterpiece on general strategy and tactics that can be used in many situations.

The Art of War is not a long book, but despite its size, it is totally packed with content. Some themes of the book include

- always ensuring you are prepared
- adapting and responding to circumstances

- knowing yourself, the enemy, and the environment
- being unpredictable, secretive, and deceptive

- making calculations - exploiting opportunities
- avoiding your enemy's strengths, and attacking his weak spots

- causing disorder among your enemy

- using baits to manipulate others

- ensuring good teamwork through picking the right people to do the right job, good communication, and synergy

- knowing when to fight and when not to fight

In summary, I would just like to say that The Art of War is definitely one great book on war written thousands of years ago. It is just as relevant today.

A pretty heavy read and it took me a while to finish it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Booking through sunshine and roses

Imagine that everything is going just swimmingly. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all’s right with the world. You’re practically bouncing from health and have money in your pocket. The kids are playing and laughing, the puppy is chewing in the cutest possible manner on an officially sanctioned chew toy, and in between moments of laughter for pure joy, you pick up a book to read . . .

What is it?

In the rat race of life, such moments are rare! I have said so many times, I can read at any time and almost anything. When all is somewhat rosy, I pick up heavy stuff. Mostly non-fiction. Those books set the thinking juices in my mind. I reflect and dwell on world problems. I can even read travelogues then, pondering that I need to take off with my family to far off lands.
I can pick up the fattest of novels, with lots of twists, which test my brain. However, happy or sad endings do not bother me as such. Adventure novels work great too along with whodunits!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J K Rowling

Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Author: J K Rowling
ISBN-10: 0747591059
ISBN-13: 978-0747591054
Publisher: Bloomsbury; Children's edition (21 Jul 2007)
Hardcover: 608 pages

How does one review a book that is so hyped? What is there to left for us late readers to say that would interest other readers? Harry Potter series has become a cult and J K Rowling is a very happy woman laughing all the way to her bank/banks! To give her credit, she got children to reading books and same might be said for some adults also.

I have read all seven, after borrowing those from my nieces and nephews. I was enthralled into the world of magic. While reading the books, one gets sucked into it. Though her books are for children or young adults, many serious readers do pick up her books and read it at one go.

Some how this book did not leave me with a satisfied feeling. Harry, Ron and Hermione are on the look out for Horcruxes. While in the lookout, there are subtle changes between their relationships. All three try hard to cope with that in their own ways. This book is also about growing up, friendship and acceptance of that. I have deliberately left out the wizardry, the evil, the magic and what have yous. Enough has been said about that. I am not even going to tell the story in a nutshell. I had guessed about the relationship between Dumbledore and Snape.

The Deathly Hallows are characterized by an equilateral triangle with a circle inscribed within it. A straight line bisects both the triangle and the circle. The circle represents the Stone of Resurrection, the triangle represents the Cloak of Invisibility, and the line represents the Elder Wand. In fact, this symbol fascinated me more than anything else did.

There are too many internal dialogues. Voldemart and Harry are shown to be communicating most of the times. So do Dumbledore and Snape too, with Harry. Lose ends are tied up and that makes the book very flat. It cannot hold a candle against the very well crafted Goblet of Fire or The Prisoner of Azkaban. The ending is what the majority of readers want but it left me feel cheated.

One should read it if one has read all the others, to completes the series. Otherwise, safely give it a miss.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Booking through comfort food

It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.

What do you read?

A very thoughtful question. When I am undergoing any kind of turmoil, I tend to read books, which can uplift me by making me, laugh... One book, which never fails, is Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome. The idiosyncrasies of the three friends are enough to lift up my spirits. I re-read comics like Asterix and Tintin.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol does wonders along with The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. Both are pure fantasies but in different ways. I can read poetry too as I write poetry. In my dark hours, I mostly resort to write poetry. I love especially Rumi, cummings, Frost, Elliot and Mary Oliver. Then there are soft romances, which can take me out of any kind of dark moods.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson

Title: So Many Books, So Little Time
Author: Sara Nelson
ISBN: 0425198197
Publisher: Berkeley Books
Pages: 242
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

This was one book I started to read right away, because I liked the title and fell in love with the cover. Sara Nelson is a publishing columnist. She is a compulsive reader of books. Here she has described her booking habits, adventures and quirks along with her relationship with her husband, son and books. She tries to make her husband read without much success.

For one who reads like mad, this book connects instantly. Reading habits are very personal. Some of the books interest us the instant we lay our eyes on those. Some we pick up never to read. A few we start and never finish. Then there are books we want to show off to the world and in our privacy we might be reading chick lit or some such light stuff. Sara Nelson has written all about that. For those reason, I think her book is an instant hit with lovers of books.

She has listed her reads throughout the book. She even mentions a few rereads. Her agenda is to read a book a week/52 books per year. She completes it with a few more thrown it. A few she picks up at random. A few others are gifts or recommendations.

She carries books with her. She selects meticulously. She writes with a witty charm, with subtle references. She in a way says nothing that a book lover does not know. Still it makes a pleasurable read because we nod at what she says. We identify with the situations. We relate to certain instances. We do not feel guilty about jumping pages nor about not reading something we have had for years. Not even for never being able to finish Ulysses. When she speaks about books, which are exchanged or recommended between friends, can make or mar a relationship, we are reminded of such instances in our lives. Like her, we too remember what was going in our lives while we were reading a particular book and how rereading gets us to being nostalgic.

This is indeed a book, which one can read once and enjoy. Moreover, happily pass it on to another book lover!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Booking through Anything, any place

Do you need the light just right, the background noise just so loud but not too loud, the chair just right, the distractions at a minimum?

Or can you open a book at any time and dip right in, whether it’s for twenty seconds, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or indefinitely, like while waiting interminably at the hospital–as long as the book is open in front of your nose, you’re happy to read?


That is easy to answer. I am definitely not a Goldilocks kind of reader, as it is put here. I can read at any given point of time. Music or no music. I can shut myself out of any loud noise by my reading. I can read while having my dinner. I carry my book to bed too. Many a times, I have avoided sleep to be able to read. Being single helps in that direction..:D

I prefer to carry a paperback. Hard bounds are heavy. I read while travelling, in any waiting room, trains, flights, cab etc. In my vacations too, I prefer to sit in a corner and read. I am not the average “have to see this” kind of tourist. Yes, I like museums. Only then I do make an effort of not reading.

I prefer my books to smell good, to be fairly new. I clean any second hand book with alcohol. (Although yellowing books do have a charm of their own. I have inherited some great classics from my maternal grandfather). I like to read books with normal print. Large prints put me off as I feel like a child then! There should be more than 200 pages. As I hate my books to finish fast!

The tag line is..I need to read. Where/how/why is irrelevant. I can read anything as long as it is not technical. Life without books.....why should I even contemplate that?

The Pearl By John Steinbeck

Title: The Pearl
Author: John Steinbeck
Genre: Fiction

ISBN: 0142000698

Publisher: Penguin Books 1976
Pages: 87

I have read a few books before this by Steinbeck. As I liked those, I had to read The Pearl too. It is a very thin book compared to East of Eden. I finished it in around one hour yesterday. It appears simple in the surface but has a great message to convey.

Kino, a fisherman and Juana live in a brush house; have an infant son named Coyotito who is bitten by a scorpion. As they are poor, the doctor refuses to treat him. Juana had already sucked the poison out. However, they both secretly make a wish to find a Pearl. Kino is poor and he has his dreams. He and Juana have a son but are yet to be married. They do not have money to have a church wedding. He wants the best for his son. He wishes for his son to be able to go to school, read, and write.

Kino does find a Pearl, which is very big.
When he finds that Pearl, he is much elated. With that find, we observe a shift in his mindset. The rich and greedy try to steal the Pearl from him. Kino refuses to sell it to a Pearl buyer for the price offered. He knows instinctively that he is being taken in and walks away. We observe the loss of innocence in Kino. Juana senses the Pearl is evil and tries to get rid of it when Kino is asleep. She is caught and beaten up by Kino. We can see her stoism even when she is being hit by Kino. He even kills a man to save the Pearl and himself. Ultimately, she accepts that he is not going to give up the Pearl. He along with Juana and Coyotito tries to escape but comes back after tragedy befalls him. No man deserves the price he pays for possessing the Pearl.

Kino and Juana have the kind of relationship where they do not need to speak. They communicate with their minds and gestures. Each understands the other without a single exchange of words. Kino’s brother, Juan Tomas is not at all jealous when Kino finds a magnificent Pearl. The doctor is shown to be wholly repulsive. He is puffy, stout and very fat. The very picture is hideous.

I do not need to say that Steinbeck is a great writer. His prose is very metaphorical and makes use of imagery. His writing style draws us from start to finish. Most people would enjoy reading this. As with his other works, it holds interest being very well described. It connects to most of us. Poor people suffer the same way all over the world. The way they are taken for granted and the way rich try to dupe them of their rights.
It has that dream of any human being to obtain wealth in order to have a better life. To want the best for the children. To have hope. This ends in tragedy. That shows Kino the wrongness of his actions and he tries to right it by the only way he can. After any great tragedy, the human spirit has the capacity to survive. Steinbeck reinforces that in most of his works. It is a thin book but is loaded with meaning of life.


Those who are brave enough to read my poetry, please visit rooted.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Waverley by Sir Walter Scott

Title: Waverley
Author: Sir Walter Scott
ISBN: 978-0140430714
Publisher: Penguin Classics/1981
Pages: 608 pages

Initially, Waverley appears to be very odd novel. This opinion is caused by comparison of it with, Sir Scott's masterpiece, Ivanhoe. The opening chapters of the novel are too explanatory, and the middle chapters, though packed with events, are monotonous. The end stands out because it is written in an abrupt manner. The text is sporadic with long departure from the subject, not bearing any direct relationship to the main story.

Scott’s narration is filled with typical British Humour, which makes it worth reading even though he tends to depart from the main story line. A few of these odd digressions are interesting despite the anticlimactic moments.

Eventually, the narration is easier to deal with then the hero, Edward Waverley. He is said to be a gentleman at a time when that term meant exactly that. He also has a certain adventurous spirit, with a fantastic surviving aptitude. Many of the novel's characters love Edward Waverly which appears very odd to me.

Taken as a story, this does not stand out. However, Sir Walter Scott gives us a very good account of 18th Century Scottish culture. This is a treasure house of language and traditions, and we are treated to the national values of Scotland. This novel takes Scotland seriously. We observe the Catholic Highlanders sending their children to study in France and Italy. Bonnie Prince Charlie lost only one battle and it was adequate to secure Hanoverians their throne. We discern that the transition was inevitable for Scotland. Historical background and facts redeem the novel. The story is forgettable but the historical facts are not. It is said that many writers took to writing historical novels after reading Waverley. Whatever said and done, my copy goes out for giving. No second reading.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Louisa Elliott by Ann Victoria Roberts

Title: Louisa Elliott
Author: Ann Victoria Roberts
ISBN: 0330308777
Publisher: Pan Books/1990
Pages: 792

This novel is set in nineteenth century
England and Ireland, speaks of illicit passion, societal censure and strong-willed characters. This is a story about three people - Louisa Elliott and her cousin Edward, and Robert Duncannon, a married man that Louisa falls in love with and elopes.

Louisa, the illegitimate daughter of a
York hotelkeeper, helps to bring back to health, a suave captain of the Royal Dragoons, when he lands on their doorstep. After sometime, she works as a companion to a woman where she meets Robert Duncannon again when he comes to see her employer, Rachel Tempest. She is almost raped by Rachel’s dubious father but rescued and finds herself in Robert's bed. Soon after, he sets her up in an apartment in York with him--to the condemnation of Louisa's cousin, Edward. Robert cannot marry Louisa as he already has a wife who is a lunatic and is locked up in the Irish family mansion (Reflection of Jane Eyre?). Robert takes her back to Dublin with him, where he shows her off in society—despite guilt and censure and guilt taking a toll on Louisa's soul. She bears him three children, and suffers his philandering along with his violent brand of love before she returns to York to attend to her dying mother and finally to marry the gentle Edward.

The character of Edward seems contrived. Robert is real enough. Charlotte, who is pursuing Robert, is unreal too. The heroine does has some spark. Like most girls, she falls for the eternal rogue!

Those who bought the book would be disappointed as Louisa was running after an utter cad instead of recognising the abiding love of the ever patient Edward (sic!). I got it as a gift. I have had this book for 5 years now never getting around reading it. When I did start, it took me a long time to finish this. I am going to pass it along. One time read and then give it away! If you do not read it, you are not missing anything.


For my poetry and other writings, do visit rooted.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Title: Heart of Darkness
Author: Joseph Conrad
ISBN: 0140620486
Publisher: Penguin Popular Classics
First Published: 1902
Pages: 111

Heart of Darkness echoes the savage suppression carried out in the Congo by the Belgians in one of the largest acts of genocide committed up to that time. Deeply moving, this tale contrasts the ghastly treatment of the Congo natives. Their value of life reduces amid the unwanted invasion by Marlow and Kurtz and the Belgian Company whose aim is to gather all ivory at any cost.

The novella begins out with Marlow, the main character, with a few of his shipmates to tell a story. He creates interest for the listeners with his disquieting tale of madness. Marlow was the captain of a steamboat who ends up at a slave-trading post along the banks of a huge river in Africa. While at the post, not only does Marlow witness some of the most horrible things one can imagine, but he also hears many rumours and stories of a brilliant man, Kurtz, who runs another post farther up the river, into the deep wilderness. Once Marlow reaches his destination, the book really takes the reader over with its frightening descriptions of Kurtz and his situation that he created being alone out at this post with the natives for the longest time.

As we read the story, we encounter the repetition of light and darkness. The imagery of light and darkness represents beyond the contrast of the colours. It illustrates white (the Europeans) and black (the Africans). The concept of African civilization by the European company becomes the darkness and the Africans' wild life becomes the light in the heart of darkness. The image of Africans being chained up is also signifies as the living death, the darkness; they are being controlled by white men and not being able to run freely. The death of middle aged Negro with a bullet hold in the forehead is a form of darkness from the European side. Lastly, it is the death of Kurtz, which signifies as the darkness from the European side and as well as the African side.

According to me, the effect of the novella is similar to a much older literary genre, the Gothic, and considered a “horror” story. The elaborate framing narrative devices, the emphasis on physical and mental deterioration, the doppelganger motif, the move from enlightened, time-bound civilization to barbaric, timeless primitivism; from a social order to a boundless nightmare. Like the Gothic, Conrad is simply not concerned with the unpalatable realities of a particular political system, but the individual’s unfathomable thoughts that allow the atrocities to happen.

Marlow's narration is full of information pieced together from stories, paintings and myths. His ideas, ambiguousness, euphemisms, prevarications and philosophical ponderings over what happens take priority over distinct details. One of the many layers to the stories is the drive to react against the self-proclaimed dominance of the human race: both against his environment as against his fellow man. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow proclaims that the unrestrained exploitation of the natural resources is a blot on the human conscience. This is indisputably a qualified classic.


For my poetry, do visit rooted.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Title: Tender Is the Night
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
ISBN: 0141183594
Publisher: Penguin Books/2001
Pages: 400

The story is set in Riviera, Europe, where the Fitzgeralds had lived in the 1920s. The story begins with Rosemary, a young woman who has recently attained fame and fortune as an actor in silent films. She is very beautiful but in many ways innocent. Rosemary holidays on the Riviera--where she meets Dick and Nicole Diver, who are rich and an attractive couple. Rosemary gives in to Dick Diver's charm falling in love with him, but Nick is connected to Nicole, with both responsibility and love. Nicole's flawlessness is a mask. Dick is a psychiatrist and his wife, Nicole, is his patient. She is mentally imbalanced.

In that apparent paradise of the Riviera, lay ghosts, drifting through splendour followed by self-imposed restrictions, ultimate denial, dissipation and death. The Divers show the ideal of the American Dream. Both are young, restful, in love with each other and life in general. Only on the surface. The cracks begin to show, one by one, until the carefully cultivated pretence is smashed and the sickness is exposed. This novel is mainly autobiographical. It draws its parallel from Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. The alcohol factor, in Zelda, is more likely the major factor for her suffering than some abstruse mental illness.

This part stands out:
"It was necessary to treat her [Nicole] with active, affirmative insistence, keeping the road to reality always open, making the road to escape harder going. However, the brilliance, the versatility of madness is akin to the resourcefulness of water seeping through and over and around a dike. It requires the united front of many people to work against it".

In Fitzgerald's work, the shimmering surface is a false front that the characters present to the world so that they maintain both their social standing and self-image. As the novel moves back and forth in time, we observe how Dick has married for money. The way he is torn between love for Nicole as a husband and care for her as a patient. When Nicole begins a final recovery--he initiates his own destruction. Somewhat dark in tone, Tender Is the Night is not so much disenchanting as it is nihilistic.

The Great Gatsby focused on the mask, Tender Is the Night strips that and focuses on the face. This is a poignantly astounding work, with lyrical prose and well-defined conflict, combined with insights into the impulses and inclinations of human mind in comparison to reality. A very powerful read.

My Mother's Garden--A collection of Essays

Title: My Mother's Garden--A Collection about Love, Flowers and Family
Introduction by Penelope Hobhouse
ISBN: 1596091479
Publisher: Chamberlain Bros./2005
Pages: 179

I had won this book in a draw from Sioux
and glad I did.

This is a beautiful collection of essays, penned by an inspiring group of writers who have a love for gardens. Most have reminiscences about their mothers and grandmothers. This book is a great tribute to mothers/grandmothers everywhere. One just cannot stop with the first essay. I found myself totally immersed until the whole book was finished. I laughed with joy at some, was a little sad with few and wondered at the pleasant memories of mothers and grandmothers. The essays are very lucid and well-worded. There are two poems too in this collection. "To Any Reader" from A Child's Garden of Verses by R L Stevenson and "Mother in the Garden" by Sarah Gorham.

The love pours forth for the gardens as well as mother to daughter or granddaughter. Most essays are about the bonding but a few do tear apart. Creating a garden is like raising a baby with all the birthing pangs and the worry one goes through for a baby. The result is very fulfilling if the Garden sustains just like a child.

The essays are very inspiring and make one long for a garden. As I live in an apartment and have a terrace garden, I longed for open fields and big trees. This is one book one can read again and again.