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review 2014-09-23 05:56
Princess Sultana's Daughters by Jean P. Sasson

Title: Princess Sultana's Daughters

Author: Jean P. Sasson

This is part of the Princess trilogy and is the second book in the series which follows the after the first one named Princess which I had read four years back. I was really touched and it was quite heart wrenching book which explained in detail the atrocities faced by women in Saudi Arabia in the hands of the men as described by Sultana who is a princess from the royal family of Saudi Arabia. That book is one among many which will remain forever in my heart. However this book failed to impress me in the same manner.

 There are many reasons for this. First of all it is not a chronological story but random chronicles of events which are to be written as part of a diary that Sultana would keep for herself. Secondly there are unnecessary mentions of wealth and jewels possessed by Sultana and the extravagant vacations and luxurious apartments owned by them which made me quite uncomfortable. Thirdly she says that she is indirectly helping to create social stature for women through her books but at various times it feels like the theme just doesn't submerge with the whole scheme of events in her childrens' lives. 

Her elder daughter Maha who seems to be quite rebellious since childhood falls for a girl after seeing how women are treated in the land of men. While her other daughter Amani turns spiritual and becomes a religious fanatic after the journey of Haj. I don't see a point how is this related to women stature in Saudi Arabia. At times Sultana gives an image of a parenthood gone wrong when she is being negligent about the whereabouts of her daughters: Maha who keeps a weapon without telling her parents and another who runs a religious extremist group at home and yet Sultana blames it all on sufferings of women in Saudi Arabia. Also I feel a sense of disgust towards Sultana when she was amused when her daughter fed dog licked biscuits to her uncle and also when Sultana laughed hysterically at the death of man by stampede at Haj realising its not her husband!

The climax of the book is also totally unrelated to the whole theme of the book. Her husband Kareem and son Abdullah seem more sensible and wise in their deeds than what Sultana seems like. I was awed by her first book but when I consider this one, it failed to grip my attention miserably. Few of the things like Haj experience and Muslim life in Egypt explained are done well and those are probably the only positives in the book. Instead of going ahead and writing these chronicles of events, she should probably have gone ahead and helped the grand daughter of her maid who was a victim of female circumcision because the royal family has all the powers in Saudi Arabia to make a difference.

I would like to rate it a generous 2/5 and stay miles away from the last book of the triology Princess Sultana's Circle.

Ratings: 2/5

Source: loadstoread.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/princess-sultanas-daughters-by-jean-p-sasson
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review 2014-06-30 15:17
The Test of My Life by Yuvraj Singh, Sharda Ugra & Nishant Jeet Arora

Title: The Test of My Life
Authors: Yuvraj Singh, Sharda Ugra, Nishant Jeet Arora

Disclaimer: I will be a little biased towards this book because I personally am a fan of Yuvraj Singh and the game of cricket.

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I read this book not as a memoir or a book of autobiography genre. I read it solely because I like Yuvraj Singh and have been a fan of his sixes. I read it just like an Indian who can go crazy by an Indian win be it ODIs, tests or T20s. I read it as an Indian who went crazy on the day of 2nd April 2011, when Dhoni lifted the ICC Cricket World Cup after 28 long years. I read it as just another cricket fan in India who rejoiced along with million other Indians on that Saturday night. I picked up this book to know more about the man of the series of this tournament. It was an amazing experience just going through those balls and runs through Yuvraj's voice and the memories came to picture again.

In this book, Yuvraj Singh talks to you. Though there have been editing done by the Sharda Ugra of CricInfo fame and help from Yuvraj Singh's manager and friend Nishant Arora, the reader feels connected to the voice and experience of Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj Singh was diagnosed with seminoma, a rare form of germ cell cancer and Yuvraj Singh takes you through this journey of recovery from the day of his symptoms showing up, his struggles, diagnosis, procedures, recovery after the tumor was removed, and his struggle back again to form and to be a part of the Indian Cricket team.

This book is divided various sections. In the first section, he talks of his heavy cricket training under the tutelage of his father and cricket background during his early growing up days. This was a very touching section. There is a continuous reference to running, falling, dusting off and running again.Second section talks of his days when he played for India and how he became a heartthrob for a lot of cricket fans. The third section is the main section which talks of  his journey and how C changed from cricket to cancer. Even though he knew something was wrong with his body, he kept procrastinating as playing for his country was on the top of his list. The later sections all talk of his ways to recovery and his mom's struggles and prayers.

When Yuvraj Singh was down with cancer, he had picked up book by Lance Armstrong and had been very inspired by the book. So he wrote this book to serve as an inspiration to another suffering cancer patient who would have been emotionally suffering too. I'm sure anyone who has read it may surely have been inspired and his purpose is truly served. Hence I would like to ignore the editing which may look disfigured to just any other memoir reader. Also the  sequence of events may seem too confusing to some. But I'm going to intentionally ignore all that for I have been truly inspired. Also I would like to mention that Yuvraj after his battle with cancer and coming out of it triumphantly found YouWeCan an NGO which helps in early detection of cancer and already has plans to take it to remote village level. It is managed by his manager and the co-author of this book Nishant.

Another notable thing about the book is its Acknowledgement List which runs on and on. I'm quite awed that Yuvraj has not forgotten to mention any person whom he is truly grateful to. It is a must read if you are a fan of Yuvraj or the game of cricket or if you were also one among the billion Indians who wept when Dhoni scored that winning six to win the most prestigious World Cup title.

Rating: 4/5(Must Read)

Source: loadstoread.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/the-test-of-my-life-by-yuvraj-singh-sharda-ugra-nishant-jeet-arora
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review 2014-06-17 14:55
Half a Life by V. S. Naipaul

Title: Half a Life

Author : V. S. Naipaul

I sometimes go into a phase where I feel like reading Indian authors only. I got a few books by Anita Nair, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Amulya Malladi and was looking for some Vikram Seth books and I stumbled upon this book. I randomly began reading it one day. I had read the other two "Indian" Nobel Laureates for literature: Rabindranath Tagore and Rudyard Kipling(if you may consider his birth). For me it was the first encounter with Mr. Naipaul's writing. It is said that this book is a semi-autobiography. When I started flipping first few pages I realized that the language used was rich, crisp and catchy had several touches of British literature. I was totally mesmerized.

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The story begins with the protagonist's story of how his parents named him Willie Chandran after the famous author W. Somerset Maugham had visited his idle, ambitionless father when he had taken up the role of the silent priest in the temple/ashram. The first section of the book takes us through a journey of his ancestors and talks in large about the inequality and class-based society in India. It talks about the life of his father, who dropped out from college and married a backward class girl against his parents and Willie was born out of this marriage. The period of the events are not mentioned but it seems like almost mid 20th century when there were a lot of societal events happening in India then.

I'm not sure if this is intentionally or coincidentally written in similar theme with Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage. In both the books the protagonists struggle in identifying their true self which takes them across different countries and continents, forcing them to take up varied occupations and still having a cultural/religious identity crisis. Willie Chandran then heads to London after schooling from India based on an invitation from his father's acquaintance from his silent idle priest days. There he has trouble accepting his identity and leads a life of lies and publishes a book which brings him in touch with Ana who is half African- half American. He then heads to Africa staying there for a span of eighteen years taking care of the estate which was inherited by Ana from her grandfather. There are a lot of references to the Portuguese colonization in African states. He also goes through a stage of understanding his sexuality and physical desires which I would rather skip for the review.

There are a lot of interesting and strange characters in London and African references like Percy, the African roomie Willie in London, and then the Sunday lunch friends of Willie's: Jacinto Correia the typical entrepreneur trying to venture out into any business, the untrustworthy estate caretaker Alvora, the mystical Mrs.Noronha whom nobody dares to question, the  indifferent yet sometimes sensitive  Ana who is struggling with her past, Julian, the carpenter's daughter, Graca the estate caretaker's wife who is having a drunkard of a husband to deal with and who longs for physical pleasures just as Willie and each one of these characters one would be able to empathize with and these characters appear deep and familiar. As a result of colonization and guerrillas taking over parts of Africa, all the half Africans are forced to move over to Portugal to their ancestral homes and back to their families.

That is when Willie moves over to Germany after a span of eighteen long years where his sister Sarojini stays. All these accounts of African journey is told as a conversation the protagonist has with his sister. There is some part of the description in the writer's European journey regarding art and architecture. The end of the book just specifies that the protagonist finally wants to live his own life and not someone else's. It is left to the reader's imagination as to what forty-one year old Willie chose to do later whether to live his own life or be in the shadow of others.

I liked the book for the writing, its uniqueness, the characters and Mr.Naipaul's vivid description of the trends of each of the places he goes to. I didn't like the story much. It gets a little lengthy in Willie's father's and grandfather's description and this book was definitely not a gripping page turner. I would probably suggest it to serious stuff readers but its good once in a while to be able to read such a book. I would give it a three and a half for the characters whom my heart went out for.

Ratings:3.5/5 for the love of characters.

 

 

Source: loadstoread.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/half-a-life-by-v-s-naipaul
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