Showing posts with label Book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book. Show all posts

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Hundred Mistakes

Shishupala's mother knew that her son was destined to die at the hands of Krishna. She begged him to please spare her son.

Krishna promised his aunt, "I will forgive a hundred errors..."

The mother was content, thinking she had bought her son redemption with that promise.

At Yudhishthira's Rajasuya Yajna, ignoring warnings from others, Shishupala insults Krishna and continues to do so till he reaches his quota of 100. At 101th insult, Krishna lets fly his discus and beheads Shishupala.

Devdutt Pattnaik, in the notes at the end of the chapter on Shishupala in his book 'Jaya' points out that the mother sought Krishna's promise not to harm her son, but did not caution her son not to give Krishna a reason.

So many times I see children running to their mothers with complaints and their mothers immediately taking up arms on their children's behalf. Never are they asked for the complete picture, nor helped to take responsibility for their actions. When they make a mistake, some mothers brush it aside, and expect other children to overlook it... They are not taught to forgive others and forget small oversights. When they feel slighted, they are not taught to rise above the situation.

As a mother, many of us take our role as protectors too seriously. But we are not going to be there all the time. Children will grow up to be adults, out in the world on their own. These very things that seem small and insignificant in childhood will lead to bigger and unpalatable personality traits that will be hard to overlook and forgive. They will not know how to handle being ignored or rejected. They will not know how to be accepted... As parents, we will be unable to help them at that stage.

Or, if that becomes the norm, will that cease to matter?


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Honouring His Word - 'Paarthiban Kanavu'

If you help others achieve their goals, even if they clash with yours, do you win or lose?

Paarthiban Kanavi by Kalki is a fast-paced read. I suspect not many of my friends have read it or plan to read it, so I am taking the liberty to liberally sprinkle spoilers.

Paarthiba Chola is a vassal of Narasimha Pallava, with a dream of breaking free and reestablishing the Chola's lost glory. But alas, the 'titular lead' of the story dies in the beginning of the tale, fighting a battle with the mighty Pallavas. Narasimha Pallava, a wise and powerful king, seeks out the body of his dead rival incognito - maybe to make sure he is indeed dead, or to honour the brave king for having fought courageously. He finds the king breathing his last and promises that he will indeed help Paarthiban's son fulfill his dream.

And then though the story was very engrossing, a part of me sceptical. Why would a king go out of his way to help his vassal realise his dream through his son?

The ending took my breath away.

Narasimha Pallava declares Vikrama Chola, son of Paarthiba, free and also gets him married to his daughter Kundavi. But the author does not end the story there. Maybe he was also labouring with the question that kept intruding into my reading. Why indeed would Pallava pave the way for Cholas to become independent?

Because, even after doing that, Narasimha Pallava's reign continued to remain glorious. In fact, it would be another three hundred years before the Cholas would regain their glory and Pallava name would vanish into the annals of history. But during his reign, Narasimha's honourable act brought him greater name, fame and, most importantly, respect. He was not insecure because he trusted himself. Whether Vikrama was deserving or not - which he was - Narasimha had the vision, the generosity and the confidence needed in a king to know that he could hold on his own purely on his capabilities. Accepting an able man as his son-in-law and a near-equal gave him opportunities to expand his vision further, probably.

How relevant it is even today! If we lift someone up, do we risk going down or do we climb higher? That depends only on us, right?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Greatness at a Price

Let me be done with the problematic bit first - language. Throughout the book, people 'laid down to sleep'. There were other editing mistakes that had slipped through, and being an editor myself, I can only wonder at what the original text looked like. Maybe the editor needs to be patted on the back for giving us a highly readable book despite these flaws.

The author has been involved with the theatre and maybe that's what gives him such a hold on the plot. His interest in history makes him scratch beneath the surface and present a highly plausible tale of one of the greatest kings in Indian history, despite which not much is known of his early days. So what Pillai writes of comes from his readings of the books mentioned in the Bibliography - most of which are about the agrarian economy in the times of the Nandas and the Mauryas.

My knowledge of the Maurya founder comes, like most other historical/mythological tales, from Amar Chitra Katha. I realise the lack in my education when I read authors who take this popular tales and dig deep.

For me, Chanakya was always the hero and Chandragupta Maurya, a beneficiary of his guru's infinite wisdom. Even in Ashwin Sanghvi's Chanakya, this view was strengthened.

Pillai, on the other hand, shows Maurya in a different light, with much more personality, skills and foresight. Even without his guru, he has mettle. His life is not all that smooth and he not a playful man having fun in life. He is a king, a responsible one, and morose, toughened by life and bereavements, betrayed by near and dear ones. 

The journey is fleshed out neatly, logically and without any rose-tinted glasses colouring the picture. WYSIWG - What you see is what you get. You need to act to achieve your goal, but that does not always give you joy though it may give you the desired result.

A must-read for those who like historical fiction, and even those who don't. But, read with a liberal mind to forgive those errors in language for the purpose sometimes is larger than technical details.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I was crazy about babies when I was growing up. Wherever there was a baby, you would find me there - cuddling them, petting them, even distracting them if they cried.

I had no doubts about becoming a mother. I gave up my job to be ready for her and the fact that work from home worked out for me is only incidental. Despite some doubts, we had the second one too.

For a few years after that, I could not go near other babies. Not because mine were possessive, but I was 'scarred'. The responsibilities, I thought, weighed me down. I thought it was all the bottom wiping and the constant checking that had tired me out.

But as I read 'My Sister's Keeper' by Jodi Picoult, I understand this change a bit better. No, mercifully, I do not have to live through the nightmare the parents in the book live through. But I can see what makes parenting of multiple children difficult - the arguments, debates, back-answer... all those are incidental. What is more difficult is to make choices.

If both children have a different demand, which one do you give in to? If both need attention and care, how do you make sure each gets their due? Worse, if one is unwell and the other is well, can the latter be expected to understand any neglect by parents? How do you balance their needs in times of crisis?

I remember an incident that came to light soon after tsunami hit the coasts of Tamil Nadu. A western mother found herself in the sea with two young children. She could save only one. She had to let go of the other. A celebrity Indian author and mother of six wrote scathingly about the mother for having made a choice; she felt the mother should have tried to save both.

Which mother wouldn't? But isn't that what makes motherhood the greatest challenge? Many things are expected of you, and yet you are as limited as the next human being. Deification does nothing to minimise the frustration of not living up to those ideals. Even simple things like nourishment can weigh heavily on her mind.

No one prepares you for this, no one wants to scare you, maybe. And yes, rewards far outweigh the troubles. But like in everything, the road to that success is filled with challenges that you traverse alone, or, if you are lucky like me, with a husband who shoulders your responsibilities.

For the Fitzgerald family in the book, the choice is that much more difficult. One daughter has leukemia and they have a third child just so she can be a donor for her sister. The eldest son turns destructive because of neglect. The youngest child sues her parents for rights to her body when she is just 13.

Picoult excels in bringing out how each one reacts to the situation. It is difficult to pin point and say who is right and who is wrong. You want them all to come out winners. In a well-knit family, maybe that is possible. Waiting to complete the novel.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Editing the Noise

'War is the last resort of desperate and foolish kings' Dasaratha's message to his sons, quoted by Lakshmana in Ashok Banker's 'Bridge of Rama'.

But it is not just the war in the battle field that I think of. People speak freely, uttering all nonsense that comes to them in a moment of despair and anger. They speak ill of others.

And the person being spoken of hears of this. Does he discard it as nothing? No! It takes root in his or her heart and starts becoming a poisonous tree. She awaits an opportunity to vilify the person who spoke ill, whatever the trigger, or confront and punch holes, leaving a crack that can never quite heal.

And this vicious circle goes on unabated, spreading unhappiness, not just among these two but everybody connected with them. Battle lines get formed, loyalties are sworn. With time, the original charge is forgotten, only the feeling of resentment prevails.

War mongers have field day, carrying tales, twisting words and adding spices to even inane statements. The ear still does not know how to filter out the noise and the brain laps up everything the ears hear to relish the moment, anticipate the 'enemy's downfall and somewhere feel triumphant for no rhyme or reason.

'How much is price of that reparation? When will our honour be sufficiently redeemed?' Rama demands of Lakshmana a few lines later. 'At what point does the cycle of revenge end?'

Never, unless we develop selective hearing, understand ourselves well and are beyond the touch of mere words. To gossip can be fun and entertaining, but like a movie or a game, should follow codes and have an end. Or else, like a serial, it will simply stretch, running into years! And you know how mindless that can be!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Rozabal Line

Ashwin Sanghi's 'Chanakya's Chant' disappointed me in the end. His historical reconstruction was amazing, but the current day political drama lacked something - maybe, a larger purpose.

So I picked up this book - The Rozabal Line - with apprehension. He proved me wrong. With amazing cross linking of events culled from research across online and library sources, he reconstructs a wonderfully plausible story. He links events, words and philosophies across multiple religions with ease and weaves it into a thrilling story of the hunt for proof.

From the word go, this book was unputdownable. But what I loved the most in the end was the answer to the question, are religions bad?

"There is something good to be found in all faiths, Vincent. The problem has never been belief but the deliberate misinterpretation and misuse of it."

I don't remember any controversies surrounding this book, and I am surprised.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Just a Chalice

'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood is written god knows about where and which age. But nothing could describe our society better, given the knee jerk reaction from the governments to "protect" women. The answer, to put her behind reams of clothes, lock her up in a room, restrict her movement. And, oh yes, use her only for procreation. She says the women are just chalices with a body to cover it so that they may receive the semen from the men. Of course, men too cannot look at her. This, purportedly, is to protect the women who were "suffering" when free.

We are seeing much the same in our country now. Unable to come up with answers to the questions being raised about women's safety, the governments seem to believe that the onus lies with women solely to protect themselves - and that is by covering themselves from head to toe and remaining confined within the walls of their homes.

Respected administrators, please assure us that women are safe in the confines of their homes. That women in purdah countries are safe. That the more conventionally dressed women in the villages are safe.

That the answer to the problem lies with the victims and not the perpetrators. That if a man is murdered, it is the one killed who has to be punished and not the killer. That if there is a robbery, the robbed to be penalised and not the robbbers... Is this what justice is all about

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Other Side

She is like a wardrobe. She mouths filth like a sewer. She does not spare the rod. She can feed pea soup to a Jew knowing it is a crime.

He has eyes like silver. He spends sleepless nights so his foster daughter may sleep. He gives his basement up for a Jew in Nazi Germany.

The little one loses her natural family. She will never forget her foster father. She can give boys a good licking. She joins thieving boys to steal food. She steals books.

He wants a kiss. He wants to be Jesse Owens. He does not want to be in the Nazi army. He steals from farms. He gives bread to the Jews.

He is running from death. He is escaping the Nazis. He finds a shelter. He gives back the love he receives. He leaves them when he senses he is a danger to them. He is a Jew.

It sees all. Everyone reaches it finally. It is overworked as the world explodes. It can feel the pain and joys of human beings.

A foster mother, a foster father, a little girl, her friend and many others come alive through the eyes of death in Nazi Germany in the book The Book Thief by Markus Zasuk. A sensitively told story, a compelling book, a must read for all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Waste - A Mark of Progress

"Waste is the highest virtue one can achieve in advanced capitalist society" - 'Dance, Dance, Dance' by Haruki Murakami. My second book by this author, he had me there as I read these lines.

And he goes on to say how he contributes to this waste by writing articles that take up reams of paper. It resonated with my thoughts.

We write, and we use paper and we cut trees.

We write, and we use our computers and use energy.

The need to speak, to be heard, to share and exchange ideas - a deep-rooted desire that does not go with time. The more we age, the more we have something to say... whether there is anyone to listen or not...

And this waste is just one kind of waste. What to talk of accumulation and display of wealth and material goods? Can anything change so long as our pursuit is measured by external standards? 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Anubavangal: Chasing Her Shadow - Literary Fiction Novel - love...

Chasing Her Shadow - Literary Fiction Novel -  on modern complexities of human relationships. My official debut novel, which my friends liked and encouraged me to write more. Only now woke up to the fact that I can share this on blog too...

Awaiting your feedback

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Making Saraswati Flow Again

I picked up the book - Sarawati's Secret River - for my daughter hesitantly. Another story based on Indian mythology? Should I just pick up a fairy tale instead? Oh well, let's see how she likes it, I thought.

Her reading is far from what I would like it to be. So one rare night, when I agreed to read a book for her, I picked this one up. By Devdutt Pattanaik, I was suddenly caught up in the story and read some 8 pages instead of the promised 4. Then, of course, I didn't pick it up again for a while, hoping my daughter would tell me how it read. But I ended up reading it again.

I wondered - is this book for children or adults? Of course, the style is simple and the story straightforward, but it is adults who must read this book. For, children probably already instinctively know what Pattanaik is writing about. It is we adult who go against the grain!

Goddess Saraswati visits a school principal and takes her on a journey to the past when children learned what they were interested in. And so, the River Saraswati flowed big and strong. But over time, rote and forced learning began, and the river shrank.

In the princi's own school, there is a boy who questions, and is discouraged... The lesson being, don't discourage him and let other students think independently too.

Now, tell me, what is the use of making this a children's book? Isn't the greatest tragedy of our times the fact that adults decide what and how children should learn? Isn't it we who cut down curiosity and encourage rote? By telling children about the need to pursue their interests, isn't Pattanaik doing them a great disfavour? By sowing such thoughts, they will only meet with frustration as they go back to schools all enthused, only to find lessons forced down their throats!

Mr. Pattanaik, it is not enough to write great books. Please make them realistic. Don't raise hopes in children without preparing them for disappointments.

Or, maybe he is hoping that children when they become adults will bring about the necessary changes? Hmmm... but by then, they will be 'house-trained' too!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Visiting Past Life

I once went for a past life regression exercise, because I have been immensely curious to know what I was in the previous birth. Maybe Jhansi ki Rani, Joan of Arc... someone like that? I drew a complete blank, remembering not even much of my this life except some very light moments. As I was supposed to leave this life and enter the previous, a crow cawed outside and the image that rose in my mind was that of a crow. The lady leading me along realised the futility of letting me continue the exercise and packed me off.

I went to a palm leaf reader, but the first time, I didn't have the guts to ask about my past. The second time, since I was with my husband, the astrologer - not realising I was more curious about my previous births than the present one - said it was enough if we read my hubby's as my life will get included in that. My hubby had had more success with the past life regression, and much of it was confirmed indirectly in the palm leaf reading too. Only I came back empty handed.

So when I read Paulo Coelho's Aleph, it drew me in immediately. Initially I thought it was a spiritual journey... Or rather, to be truthful, didn't really know what it was about. I was almost dismayed when I saw it was autobiographical. But, the journey he took - a physical one - also caused him to travel back on time.

Lucky he... Or is it unlucky? Maybe he could handle what he discovered. But the girl who he travels back in time with is unable to. It is not always good to know. But, reading his work, there were a couple of things that set me thinking.

One - about how he talks of death and compares it to people traveling in different compartments. Years ago, when a cousin of mine died unexpectedly, the thought that kept running through my mind was - how do I know she is not back at home in another city? That was the only way to reconcile to it.

The other thing he talks of is meeting people from past lives. Sometimes, you feel a connect. There is certain bonding that happens. We say "poorva janma bandham"... maybe that is what it is. But if we knew it, probably our present lives and relationships will go haywire.

I am reminded of my conversation once with my daughter, when she wanted to know why she doesn't remember who she was before. And I wisely told her "because then you will want to go back to that mother..."

Remember that, my dear girl, when the next time you want to visit your past... And since there is nothing that bothers or pain in the current birth, why not go along with your thought - that this is your first birth, really?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Peeling the Layers - Meluha

I think no Indian story, especially those on historical/mythological characters, can ever have just one layer. The Immortals of Meluha is no different. A facebook conversation made me expect a fantasy in the Harry Potter category, where I imagined a character like Shiva would be using chants and "magic" to win over enemies.

The book, though, proved that I had been mislead. I had to read it in two days as I had to return the book. But it was not difficult to achieve the task. The book did not "grip" me like some others do. But it flowed easily. The reason I put grip within quotation marks is that in some places... hmmm... it was like that. And, the Sati of Amar Chitra Katha comics kept interrupting my thoughts. Daksha had a goat face in my mind, and somehow, his reaction to Shiva in this book is so diametrically opposite to what I had imagined, again thanks to ACK - that kept intruding too! And is Tarak, another Meluhan, Tarakasur? You know, our half-baked knowledge interfering and logic arguing parallely kind of a thing.

But I loved the way Amish creates an extraordinary character from ordinary events, and vests Shiva with the same dilemmas and doubts that any human being would have. What I loved about the book was, he makes a hero of a man who overcomes those doubts, but is never above them. He is guided from time to time. But for those who are familiar with the Indian thought, the guides will not fog the mind. Instead, the reader will find answers to their own doubts there. Which is why I felt the book was layered - on the one hand, there is the story one reads, that of Shiva, the man with a destiny. But on the other, there is second layer that talks to the reader directly.

In my own fumbling way, I had written a short story earlier called Perspective. What is right for one, may not be right for another. So there are no absolute truths... Kudos for presenting it so neatly. And, considering I am also in a dilemma, caught between  right and wrong, Shiva's dilemma and the realisation that the burden never goes away really made me pause and think. We can only hope to become stronger to bear our burdens. We can only hope to understand the other point of view. We can never be rid of them forever. All we can seek is the strength for it.

Wonder what part II has in store for me.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

True Friend

The King's Mistress by Emma Campion is slow moving, going round in circles though with an interesting historical plot.

In one place, the heroine learns this truth - that others around may provide companionship and be convenient up to a point, but finally, our greatest friend is us.

If I cannot be friends with myself, who else can? If I do not love myself, who else will?

There is a Tamil saying: That a wife walks till the doorstep, the relatives till the street end and the sons till the cremation ground. But no one can accompany us beyond that on our last journey. This is the root of Hindu philosophy, which stresses on detached attachment.

Why then do we crave to "win" friends, to "be seen" with the crowd, to "be pressured by the peer"?

Isn't it a trick of the mind that believes anyone can understand us as well as we can? That we can give others what they seek?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thud, Thud Goes My Heart

Every development sends the heart soaring afresh! This morning, as I sat in front of Facebook, I saw my publisher's message that my novel is now available online. Thud, my heart bumped against my chest. It still hearts - is it pleasure or pain? - Written in the Stars in Flipkart

Would love to hear your feedback if you pick up this book to read...

Monday, September 19, 2011


I read Memoirs of a Geisha a few months. Happened to watch the movie recently, and it brought back pleasant memories of journeying with the young Geisha as she faces ups and downs of life.

Sayuri is in love with a man who shows no indications of his feelings for her. His friend Nobu, a man with scars on his face, seems to feel intensely for the girl. Highly principled, he wants something deeper from her than the lighter moments in life. The character makes you ache, and at every point, I wished she would accept him.

The journey to finding one's love - so intense and uncertain - is more exciting than when one gets what one wants. Sometimes, unrequited love or love that does not fructify makes for better reading than when it is reciprocated. This book, already a hit I think, would have benefited as a tragedy better, I feel. The knots unravel suddenly and it becomes a feel good book in the end. That would have pushed it to the mundane.

But the quality of writing and characterisation itself are so good that the book makes for an excellent read. The suspense is maintained till the end. For many, the present ending may be preferred after the intense troubles the heroine goes through. The movie too was a great watch, but maybe because the book remained with me in the deep recesses of my mind and I could fill up the gaps that the movie may have had.

Overall a must read/watch story. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Humane Cop Tale

I have been off thrillers for a while. They are nearly as fantastic as fantasy tales. The "never-make-a-mistake-except-to-take-story-forward" strategy bores me to death. The gore can be a put off too.

I picked a book by Ian Rankin - The Complaints. This was my first book by the author and for some reason I missed the "Number One Bestseller" on top - a sure sign that it probably wasn't. Then the summary behind also didn't tune me in to the fact it was a cop story and so a series of lucky breaks that pass off for brilliance.

As I do with all books, I decided to give it a chance. And I was hooked. Mainly because, the cop is a human being - surprise, surprise! He has a family - a father and a sister, and he is not lucky with women - unlike our thriller heroes who only have to look and have women falling at their feet. There is a setting, the good and the bad and the shades of gray. The hero is caught on backfoot, and he fumbles through. Of course, lucky breaks are a must but he is almost always caught on the wrong.

The overall story is told very interestingly. Of course, for a second, I also mistook this to be the original for the Old Fox series, since the cop is called Fox. But that is a German series, apparently.

Overall, my thumbs up for this one. Maybe I will read another of his.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Common Man

RK Laxman's Common Man was a mute spectator. But the common man in A Wednesday is not.

Vikas Swaroop's The Six Suspects is a wonderful take on the modern Indian society. Though some of the characters are cliched, they don't jar and the conclusion is not obvious.

A journalist investigates a murder of a politician's son for murdering a model cum bartendress, much like the Jessica Lall case. Only, in this book, he goes scot free and is subsequently murdered.

The suspects are varied - a film actress to an American nobody, from a tribal to an IAS officer, a mobile thief and the politician father of the victim.

It is pacy and takes you into the lives of each of these, bringing up the circumstances that lead to the death of the man, who is anyway the scum of the earth.

It is insightful into the corruption of our society - not only of politicians. It shows how empty we have become, destroying nature, not in touch with ourselves, pursuing money and other desires, grabbing, grabbing, grabbing.

The end is stunning and unexpected, but it is the author's thoughts reflected in the journalist's characterisation that had me hooked. A must read.

Also read: In High Places; Looking for Happiness; The Animal Farm

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Gora by Tagore

This book was part of my syllabus in BA Lit and needless to say, I did not read it then. A thick fat book in fine print, and with a wariness for Indian authors - even of the stature of Tagore - I kept away from it. Sadly, our lecturers too did not think it necessary to make it compulsory for us to read it. In the true spirit of preparing for the exams, they told us that this book was never part of the question paper. So though I bought the book, it lay with me for quite sometime.

Then I finished my exams, and was already in a job. I don't know what prompted me to pick this up finally. Maybe the fact that I didn't have anything else to read just then, or feeling pity for a book that lay uncared for...

It was an amazing book - for the depth of characters, the intricacy of the plot and the final twist that was stunning, and at the same time, so believable and so relevant in today's times...

Who am I to critique a legendary author! This post is not about the author but the character Gora. Maybe one of the reasons I could relate to the book so well was because I had a classmate just like this man - completely convinced in her version of the truth, armed with all arguments supporting her case, aggressive in her stance, willing to pooh-pooh what everyone else had to say.

Years later, she acted contrary to this conviction in one of the matters I know of. I am sure, like Gora, she was equally convinced about the opposite stance!

But it was an eye-opener at another level too. I suddenly felt that an RSS, a jehadi or a crusader is so because he/she is wired that way. They have to have convictions to hold on to, to push forward, to defend. If it is not one, then they need another cause. So if you take religion away from them, they will still probably find something else that they think is fighting and killing for.

Isn't this what make books classic - the timelessness of depictions, the great insight they provide into a society, into the human mind?

If we use this insight in our dealings with terrorists, will we find another way to solve the problem of terrorism? Instead of kill and kill some more, can their energies be channelised differently?

Have you read: Crazy for Cronin

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crazy for Cronin

I heard about The Citadel when in college. I sort of became obsessed about getting a copy and reading it. When I did, it seemed perfectly justified. I found his view of the individual as compelling as Ayn Rand, and extremely practical. There is no utopian idealism here. Maybe, now as I write, I realise that Farooq Sheikh - Dipti Naval starrer Saath-Saath was on a similar theme. The idealist hero who loses his way and then returns when he loses his love.

Then I read Beyond This Place, another compelling book. I was amazed and thrilled to find Dev Anand and Madhubala in Kala Pani acting out the Indianised version of this book.

Both movies stand out for their memorable songs.

The Stars Look Down and Northern Lights were probably the last I read back then. And recently, The Lady in Red Carnations had me as hooked.

In a recent conversation with a friend, the desire to revisit Citadel made me go back to the book. Despite the passage of years, the book remains as endearing and gripping as ever. A reread of Stars Look Down and then Hatter's Castle made me want to read more of Cronin. The former is about miners and their struggles, while Hatter's Castle, set in Scotland, is timely in its insight into human nature, its trials and tribulations. Though it is set in the Englan of 1800s, I don't think we will wonder if such people existed. That is what makes them classics, I suppose.

My supplier of books, the local librarian, has one small row right on top with Cronin's books. I was appalled when he told me I could take the entire lot, read them one by one and return as I finish. "Doesn't anybody read him anymore?" I asked, saddened that such a gem of an author is so neglected. Their loss is my gain, and I am hoping that he doesn't let me down.

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