I read “Kane and Abel” more than twenty years ago when I was still at college. Jeffrey Archer was one of the popular authors and this book was one of the most sought after. It must have been amongst the first few books that I enjoyed in popular English writing. When I started the blog, I wanted to write about the book but my memory of the whole story was very hazy and I did not want to do a poor copy-paste job with content from wiki. I finally read the book again last year and enjoyed it once again thoroughly.
This is a story of two men separated by distance, heritage, culture, upbringing but united in their destiny. One of them is born in Russia in very poor family and the other is born in United States with silver spoon. Both the men create their fortunes through grit and determination but are each other’s sworn enemies due to wrong information about each other. On top of that their children end up falling in love with each other. In the end everything falls in place but the story keeps you engaged till the end.
There are many sequences and characters that you like more than the main story and the protagonists. Abel’s friend George or his daughter Florentyna’s Governess really take you by surprise. They are shown as simple people but fiercely loyal and proud. Similarly, Kane’s love story and how he proposes to his wife and gets married is really interesting. Love and chivalry at its best. Another interesting sequence was where Abel tries to correct his daughter’s behaviour with help of her Governess and does not take his daughter’s side against his employees.
It is a great book to read with true heroes who show once again that grit, determination and strong character always pays you and even though there may be some bad people in the world, you will still find good people who will help you in tough times.
I also ended up reading the sequel “The Prodigal Daughter” but I will get to that story some other time.
Another book by Dan Brown and another roller-coaster ride of facts mixed with fiction, history with technology, visits to historical sites to solve current issues of the world. It has become his signature style that is predictable but still enjoyable. “Inferno” is once again featuring Robert Langdon who has already featured in many of his earlier books including “The Davinci Code”. This time our hero is trying to save the world from genetic catastrophe.
The story this time unfolds in Florence with Robert waking up in hospital with no memory of last few days and being chased by a murderer. He is saved from murder by one of the Doctors tending to him and together they start running across Florence and then other countries trying to solve the mystery of biohazard cylinder found in his pocket with symbols of Dante’s Inferno. The story keeps on getting more and more complicated with each chapter with multiple layers of deception and drama till we figure out in the end that the world has been changed forever by a crazy scientist.
Of course there is interesting stuff that you learn about Florence, Istanbul and Venice where the story takes place. You learn about the advancements in genetic science that leaves you in awe and fear at the same time. You also learn about the shady world of power politics that creates deception and propaganda to suit their hidden agenda.
It is definitely difficult to put down the book once you start reading it. At the same time, it is difficult to fully appreciate the book. It is like addiction that forces you to read it through so that you find out what happens in the end but not necessarily completely enjoying the journey and that is where Dan Brown does not live up to the expectations of good literature.
Even though it was the first book that too meant for adult audience that J. K. Rowling had written after Harry Potter series, I waited for sometime before picking it up. I guess I did not want to be too disappointed. After all, there is no way she could have created the magic of Harry Potter series once again. Of course there was lot of media attention for this book and I ended up reading reviews and watching endless discussions. Finally, I could not wait and picked it up with the understanding that it is not going to be like Harry Potter but it still may be very good book and to a great extent I was not disappointed.
This story is about election for a council seat in a small British town and how it affects all aspects of society and brings out the best and worst in people. The characters here are powerless (pun intended) against the push and pull of societal pressures and their own shortcomings. Interesting part is that here also young children come out on the top as compared to their adult counterparts. Two of them Krystal and Sukhvinder stand apart from the rest. Krystal is teenage daughter of drug-addict mother but has dreams of coming out of it. Sukhvinder is daughter of respected Doctors in the community and has her own secrets.
I liked the detailing and development of characters in the story. It was also interesting to see how few young kids could hack the council website and post incriminating content. I would have liked a different and happy ending to the story but it is author’s prerogative and probably closer to reality.
“The Casual Vacancy” is not magical (again pun intended). At the same time, it is a realistic story told in engaging style.
Once you have written “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, it becomes difficult to match up to the expectations. The author Khaled Hosseini has tried it with “And the mountains echoed” and he had some success with it as well. The main story of brother Abdullah and sister Pari is very engaging and moving and just that storyline would have made it a great book. But the author got carried away with multiple other stories and I felt that he was not able to tie them together in the end.
Abdullah is ten and Pari is three years old when their father sells Pari to a childless and wealthy couple in Kabul. They do not meet again for next fifty years and their lives take different turns through the turmoil going on in Afghanistan and across the world. Eventually they meet in America but by that time Abdullah is sick and is unable to recognise her. There are other stories that run at the same time of loosely connected characters. The turmoil affects them all though in different ways. The house of Pari’s foster parents is witness to changing times and its own fortunes change along with it.
The narrative here goes back and forth and we look at story through the first person account of different characters. I have liked that kind of style of story writing but in this book it gets too broad and confusing at times. At the same time the book does manage to engage you with main characters and their lives. Even though the story takes place primarily in Afghanistan, it does cover Pari’s life in Paris in detail and provides a stark contrast between two different cultures.
Irrespective of how we find the book, the common people in war damaged regions keep on suffering and unfortunately we keep on creating more such regions with each passing year.