Wednesday, March 21, 2012

World of Words Wednesday - book reviews and memes

Title: The Lilac House
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
Pub Date:
April 24, 2012

My take:
Meera is an accomplished society hostess and a successful author of cookbooks in Bangalore. When her husband walks out on her one day, she is suddenly responsible for the maintenance of their beloved Lilac House, her mother and grandmother, as well as her kids. With no cookbook in the horizon, she looks for a job and finds one as a research assistant with Prof JAK.
Professor J.A.Krishnamurthy aka JAK is a renowned cyclone expert in the US. When his daughter meets with an accident that has left her a vegetable, he refuses to believe it an accident and comes to India to seek the truth for himself.
As their lives mingle with the unpredictability of nature and fate and they both learn the truths they are seeking, they also learn the need for moving on, second chances, and hope.
The book has characters that were far from perfect, with real fears and flaws as well as believable endearing qualities and strengths. The story focuses on human emotions and relationships (marriage, parenthood, friendship) and manages this without getting too melodramatic. There are comparisons to Hera, the Greek Goddess of love as well as to the nature of cyclones strewn throughout the book which make interesting reading. 
All in all, I could not stop reading the book, loved the characters – real, colorful, and a whole range of natures. Especially loved Lily’s character. I think the strongest woman in the book was Kala Chithi.
I did feel some parts of the book were unnecessary and others could have been expanded on a bit more. For example, in the thereafter of the book (epilogue) a character who was not touched upon much earlier is given a whole page.
The last page left me with a sense of something missing, unfinished but still enjoyable.
Side note: References to various famous eateries/other places in Bangalore brought a smile to my face with the yummy pleasant memories they evoked (for example, Corner House, Ebony Barton center)
Released in India previously as 'Lessons in Forgetting' - and a movie out as well for the book in Feb 2012.
In Summary:  This was a great read - 'unputdownable'.
Rating: B+

Disclaimer:Thank you to NetGalley for sending me a digital review copy of the book. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist. They are my personal opinions formed when I read this book.

Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga

My Take: This was a book that left me devastated in the end. It was kind of reading an adult version of Lord of the Flies in a different setting.
The book is set in Vakola, Mumbai and focuses on the residents of Vishram Society. The apartment complexes that make up the Society are eyed by Shah, a real estate developer who plans to build his dream there. His efforts to clear the buildings in order to realize his dream – by making generous (in the real estate world) financial offers to the residents and other persuasions – and the reactions of the residents and their lives to this make up the story. One man’s resistance to this offer is the center of this story though – Masterji’s. It is very interesting to watch how society dynamics change, how relationships are impacted (friends, family, neighbors) and how individuals change when faced with choices like in the book. What do you do when your dreams are right in front of you – waiting for you to reach out and grab them – after you make a, maybe, moral compromise? Will you? The story reveals this moral compass of individuals very well.
All the characters in the book are well etched out – even the not-so-major characters like Shah’s son or the priest who helps perform religious rituals for Masterji. Adiga’s narration of the story is fascinating, riveting and keeps you hooked.  The descriptions of places too is fascinating and detailed and takes you right there to Mumbai as you read the book – the real Mumbai with real people. It took me a while to get into it though, but once I was hooked – somewhere halfway through -  I kept going till the end. 
In Summary
Rating: B+ (I loved the White Tiger a teeny bit more so a B+ here)
I borrowed this book from my local library.

This book goes towards the South Asian Challenge 2012

Wednesday Memes:
For ABC Wednesday(letter J) and Three Word Wednesday (Amateur, Diligent, Nurture)

She considered herself more than a ‘Jack-of-all-arts’, not an amateur though not yet the best
She had learned the skills diligently, now she could sing, dance, or become a clown, if needed – jest!
In the classic nature versus nurture debate, in her case, both lost – it was purely herself that brought her here.
To this wonderful city of Joy, where her mind would be without fear.
(The last line is kind of an ode to one of the grand old cities of India - Calcutta/Kolkota - Calcutta

For the letter J for  ABC Wednesday, I bring the Jamun
A very popular summer fruit in India, this is touted for its medicinal properties. As for me, I love this super juicy fruit for just being. Unfortunately, it is not widely or easily available in the US.

The fruit is rich in vitamins A and C. It is used in making jams, jellies, wine, and even vinegar. It possesses antibiotic properties and used in medicines.
With absolutely no trace of sucrose, this fruit with minimum calories is wonderful. The leaves, the seeds, the bark, and the wood of this tree are used for various purposes. (used for treating diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery; as a mouthwash; to control blood pressure; and more)
From the book 'The Lilac House' come the words for this week's Wondrous Words Wednesday
  • Catatonia : a state of apparent unresponsiveness to external stimuli in a person who is apparently awake.        ('Catatonia quells.')
  • Catena: chain ('The scream of terror that turned into a catena of howls')
  • Fug : the stuffy atmosphere of a poorly ventilated space; also : a stuffy or malodorous emanation ' The fug cleared in the woman’s brain'


  1. I knew catatonia and fug, that's a great underused word though, so thanks for drawing attention to it.

    1. i had heard catatonia before but not paid attention to the meaning.. but loved these words in the book and their usage.

  2. Both of the books sound good and I love the cover of The Lilac House! Fug is such a fabulous word - it sounds like what it means.

    1. yes, i love words that sound like what they mean...

  3. oo that middle one sounds good...a little devastation can be a good thing...smiles....

  4. Both entertaining and interesting! Thanks for visiting my blog as well!

  5. jamun sounds fascinating

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

    1. thanks. the jamun is truly a wonderful fruit..

  6. Hello.
    Love the cover of "The Lilac House".
    The fruit actually looks like black pearls.
    Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

    Justified Indulgence

  7. The Lilac house seems like an interesting book to read! Time to revive my reading habits! :-)

  8. wonderfully done. Love your book review as well looks like an interesting book

    1. thank you! both the books are sad but wonderful reads


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