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review 2019-04-23 04:52
A Very Pleasant Novel of the Elderly Curmudgeon Reevaluates His Life/Attitudes Stripe
Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss - Rajeev Balasubramanyam

Cambridge's Professor P. R. Chandrasekhar is an emeritus professor of Economics, and someone who has come so close to winning the Nobel that it's jarring to many he hasn't (well. . . "many" might be a stretch, who actually knows leading economists?). But he's also alone. His ex-wife and youngest daughter live in Colorado, his eldest son is in Japan and his other daughter won't let anyone tell him where she is. While he has no room to complain, clearly bits of his life could've gone better. He seems well-regarded by those still around him, and while he's a hard teacher, he seems like a good one.

 

After a health scare (there's some humor in it, don't worry, it's not that kind of book), and due to worries about his youngest daughter's behavior, he takes a sabbatical to California. Things don't go so well with the daughter, or his ex, or his ex's new husband (the man she had an affair with before leaving Chandra). The trouble with the new husband leads Chandra into going to a "spiritual retreat" at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. Any type of spiritual retreat is the last place that anyone who knows this irascible conservative would expect him to go -- including Chandra himself. But he goes, and as he's the type to throw himself into anything he's doing -- no matter how silly he thinks it is. He plunges into the exercises.

 

And he doesn't experience a giant epiphany turning him into a spiritual kind of guy. Nor does he find the exercises silly and spends the time mocking the experience. Instead, he starts to re-examine some things. Like the way he interacts with his kids, and how they react to him. So he starts trying with them in ways he hadn't before -- and it doesn't go that well, honestly. But he makes some in-roads.

 

He ultimately returns to his home in Cambridge and makes some adjustments there, too. Eventually, some things happen that do permit him to further rehabilitate things with his children -- and life in general.

 

I was really worried that this would be about Chandra finding some sort of enlightenment, throwing off all his accomplishments and convictions and becoming a totally different person. Instead, he becomes more thoughtful, more understanding and a better version of himself -- with opportunities for further development. I don't think that's giving too much away, I hope not anyway. He's worked hard all his life, and now starts to realize the price he and others paid for him to work as hard and as much as he did, and to achieve the success he has.

 

Chandra is a fascinating guy -- I like the way he thinks. I like the very subtle humor in his approach and response to things, and wish more people in his life could catch it. I'd have liked more time with his daughters, I liked both of them and we only get to see the beginnings of better times between them and their father. Between family, new friends and new acquaintances, there are just too many characters to dig too deeply into. Which is one of the biggest problems this book has -- too many great characters to fully appreciate any who aren't in the title.

 

This looks like a "lighter" book from the title, cover, etc. -- and it is. But it deals with some bigger ideas, just not in an overbearing way. It's also not as funny as you'd expect from the description (or the blurbs on the cover). But there are subtle bits of humor throughout, and one or two very comedic moments. There aren't laugh out loud moments -- but there are plenty of smile quietly to yourself moments.

 

Balasubramanyam's writing is strong, his characters are great, and he can keep the story moving well. He balances the lightness and the darkness of the story well, and while it's not the kind of book that has a twist or three in the end, there are some things that you probably won't see coming until they happen (and feel inevitable once they do).

 

At the end of the day, this was a very pleasant novel with one very interesting character, and a few too many other characters. Some of which had the potential to be just as interesting, but we couldn't spend enough time with them because of their number. Trim a few of those, so the reader can focus those remaining and this book becomes much better. As it stands -- I may not find a lot of bliss in these pages, but I found entertainment and relaxation and would certainly read Balasubramanyam in the future with great interest.

 

2019 Library Love Challenge

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2019/04/22/professor-chandra-follows-his-bliss-by-rajeev-balasubramanyam-a-very-pleasant-novel-of-the-elderly-curmudgeon-reevaluates-his-life-attitudes-stripe
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review 2019-03-30 04:56
A novel about self-discovery
Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss - Rajeev Balasubramanyam

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss, by Rajeev Balasubramanyam

Professor Chandra is viewed as a master economist, but near 70, he is again passed over for the Nobel Prize. Disappointment fills him, but he hides it as well as he can and attempts to deal with what he perceives as his failure, in a good natured manner. Actually, he is insults some of his students in the process. Therefore, he is offered the opportunity to take a sabbatical to gather his thoughts. Although he initially refuses, he soon changes his mind. Fate plays a part in his plans. He is hit by a cyclist and winds up in the hospital with some serious health issues. He decides it is time to search for some contentment. Once he thought he was happily married, but his wife left him for another man. He has not been as involved with his children as he would like to be since the divorce. He is no longer even in touch with one of his children, a daughter he fought with often. She refuses to contact him and won’t allow anyone to tell him where she is. He misses her. His son Sunil (Sunny), is successful, but lives in India running a business school with a focus on how business should be done. He rarely sees him. He realizes he is lonely. He decides to travel to California, where his ex-wife, Jean, lives with her new husband, Steve, and their youngest daughter, Jasmine. He is hoping to try and reconnect with his family. While there, his ex-wife’s husband challenges him to go to Esalen, a place he believes will help Chandra to gain personal awareness and fulfillment. It will make him happier. This experience opens a new chapter in his life.

Chandra, whom his ex-wife calls Charles, embarks on a journey towards self discovery. He is a man with a type A personality. His behavior and manner reflect his own upbringing, his father’s influence on him and also the influence of his country of origin, India. He is restrained regarding a show of emotion, and he is formal in his dress and demeanor. As he begins to meditate and grow more introspective, he begins to understand more about his own responsibility for the things that have happened in his life, for his children’s reactions to him and his wife’s possible reasons for leaving him, for his colleague’s and student’s treatment of him as well as his behavior toward them. As his ideas and actions slowly evolve, it is as if he “comes of age”. His change affects his interaction with others and they also change, growing more receptive to him as he becomes freer and more open. Old injuries and grudges gradually become less important as they are revealed, accepted, ironed out and even resolved.  As Chandra searches for meaning in his life, he also provides meaning in the lives of those he touches.

He has enormous expectations of himself and his children and they often feel unable to fulfill his wishes. Each of his children is struggling to discover their own identity, unencumbered by his. His wife has found a new identity with her new husband. He begins to show more understanding of the plight of others and not only to dwell on himself and his own desires.

The book cleverly touches on racism, politics, religion, culture, morality, economics, world affairs, child rearing, fidelity, divorce, drugs, feminism, and more. As these subjects are introduced, they are treated with humor, a light wit or serious exploration. The book beautifully examines relationships with family, friends, strangers, and anyone else one might come in contact with, with all their flaws and in all their incarnations. Acceptance of what life offered was key, introspection was vital, self-control was primary. Chandra was a man who had almost too much self-control. It made him hard to reach, and it made him self-important, and perhaps, even selfish. He wanted to control others, to make his children in his own image. He showed disappointment rather than compassion, restraint rather than affection. He emphasized success at all costs and sometimes those on whom he imposed his control could not satisfy his dreams. They needed to find their own, and they needed to separate from him to do this. As the book develops, the characters develop and grow. The power of spirituality and deep thought brings enormous change to all of them.

 

I received this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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review 2019-03-11 13:27
The True Story Of the Great Escape
The True Story of the Great Escape: Stalag Luft III, March 1944 - Professor Jonathan Vance

Title : The True Story Of The Great Escape
Author: Jonathan F. Vance
Pen& Sword
Genre: Nonfiction
Pages
Book synopsis
'It shows the variety and depth of the men sent into harms way during World War II, something emphacized by the population of Stalag Luft III. Most of the Allied POWs were flyers, with all the technical, tactical and planning skills that profession requires. Such men are independent thinkers, craving open air and wide-open spaces, which meant than an obsession with escape was almost inevitable'_ - John D Gresham

Between dusk and dawn on the night of March 24th-25th 1944, a small army of Allied soldiers crawled through tunnels in Germany in a covert operation the likes of which the Third Reich had never seen before.

The prison break from Stalag Luft III in eastern Germany was the largest of its kind in World War II. Seventy nine Allied soldiers and airmen made it outside the wire - but only three made it outside Nazi Germany. Fifty were executed by the Gestapo.

Jonathan Vance tells the incredible story that was made famous by the 1963 film, _The Great Escape._ The escape is a classic tale of prisoner and their wardens in a battle of wits and wills.The brilliantly conceived escape plan is overshadowed only by the colorful, daring (and sometimes very funny) crew who executed it - literally under the noses of German guards.

From their first days in Stalag Luft III and the forming of bonds key to such exploits, to the tunnel building, amazing escape and eventual capture, Vance's history is a vivid, compelling look at one of the greatest 'exfiltration' missions of all time.


My thoughts

Rating: 5 

Would I recommend it? Yes it's a story that needs to be told and read.

What an incredible story to read as well as an emotional one as well ,its a story that I had already knew a little bit about thanks to the movie The Great Escape but that's all I knew about it. As your reading it you get introduce to the soldiers and see what their lives was like before the War and doing the war and what they was like leading up to that day , many of them knowing that they might never see their loving ones again but still they wanted to try , and that's what brings the story to life is the back stories of the men , while I can understand some might not like it and not care for the information I did , because with out it , the story wouldn't have came to life , it's what helped me understand them more and understand what they where going through . It showed their strength , their courage and boldness to over come the difficulties and face the extreme dangers that was around them and that they faced wither it was from the prison camp, the  German guards or the tunnels.And the  emotions I felt when I read about the murders of the 50 , made me feel mixed ones from been sad to been angry . With that said I want to say thanks Netgalley for letting me  read and review it ,exchange for my honest opinion.

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text 2019-03-01 10:59
My First Part Of March's TBR
Kim - Rudyard Kipling
Only Daughter - Sarah A. Denzil
Neon Prey (Lucas Davenport #29) - John Sandford
Dark Blossom - Neel Mullick
You're Not Safe - Mary Burton
The Summoning (Krewe of Hunters #27) - Heather Graham
The Secrets We Bury (The Undertaker's Daughter #1) - Debra Webb
The True Story of the Great Escape: Stalag Luft III, March 1944 - Professor Jonathan Vance
The Violent Abuse of Women in 17th and 18th Century Britain - Geoffrey Pimm
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review 2018-08-25 22:36
The Professor, Charlotte Bronte
The Professor - Charlotte Brontë

The Professor
In one sense, this is exactly what you would expect from the author of Jane Eyre - a romance in which the characters have no particularly good looks and prize mutual respect, intelligence, education and moral rectitude (according to Charlotte's views on the latter). In every other respect it's rather surprising: it's short; the hero's a bit unpleasant (his faith in national stereotypes is rather obnoxious); there's nothing GofficK or sensationalist to the plot; "happily ever after" is actually described! Nevertheless it could have been shorter, still - way too much time is spent dissing the French and Flemish school-girls to very little purpose except to show our hero as Master in his own class room - and the romance, once a misdirection is passed, is entirely predictable. The real fun comes every time Hunsden intervenes. Sarcastic, sardonic, abusive, interfering, mysterious, possibly revolutionary Hunsden. Charlotte should have written a book about him! Imagine a political thriller by a Bronte! And since there is much here supporting the concept of meritocracy and challenging conventional stratified class roles and social immobility, why not? There are hints here of what Hardy would take up later in the century.

 

Oh, well - plainly it wasn't to be. I have Shirley and Villette (which apparently reworks much of what is in The Professor) still to go and like Jane Eyre, they are somewhat daunting bricks. I'm actually now more interested in the juvinalia and somewhat curious about the poetry.

 

Emma
An interesting mystery comes to light just in time for Charlotte to give up writing novels...

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