Tag Archives: Fiction

“A Dangerous Fortune”, By Ken Follett

Going back to the author Ken Follett in quick succession after recently finishing “World without end”. Normally I try not to return to same author unless it is a sequel but I guess the mood was not for any new author and “A dangerous fortune” seemed like a good bet. When I started reading, I realized that I had started this book few years ago but stopped when I came across a brutal description of game called “ratting” that involved gambling for the victory of dog versus rats in a closed cage till death. This time I skipped over that portion completely. Other than the ratting part, the book is a great thriller set in 19th century London.

The story is about a banking family and how they go from success to failure due to internal family intrigues and conspiracies. It is a story of good versus evil as most of the stories are. What makes it interesting is the backdrop of banking industry and lifestyle of London in that era. It was great to read about traffic jams in the horse carriage driven era. I liked the character of Maisie who goes from runaway poor child to richest wife in town and then back to finding her own calling.

I thought the book went into lots of details in the beginning but towards the end the author was trying to finish the story quickly. Coming back to the description of “ratting”, I wonder what prompted the author to get into gruesome details in a book that is more or less a pleasant reading.

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“The Girl In The Garden”, By Kamala Nair

By some quirky logic of Kindle, this book was coming up on top every time I updated my Kindle with more books. Finally I gave in to the Kindle’s logic when I was not able to settle on anything else and started reading this book “The girl in the garden”. I did not know that it is author Kamala Nair’s first book. I probably confused her with some other name. The book is about the journey of teenage girl living in US back to small town in India with her mother. She is not interested in going back specifically leaving her father alone in US but it seems she was not given any choice.

After she gets over her first shock of being in India and staying with large family, she ends up finding lot more than she had thought of. She finds out about her mother’s old romance, her family’s murky history and also the story of unknown girl who has been locked away in a forest due to facial deformity.

I liked some parts of the book but a lot of time I found my attention wavering and I just wanted to reach the end. It was not because I was hooked up but I was looking to finish the book and start something else. Some of the parts just did not seem real even if you consider some old age customs and issues that may plague the society in rural India. Yes, there is a lot of stigma attached with kids having deformity on face but the family is supposed to be running a hospital and should have known that treatment can be done for such issues. Yes, people want to hide unwanted pregnancies but they do not give away all their freedom to some unknown person and keep on living in its shadow for so many years.

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“World Without End”, By Ken Follett

I had read “Pillars of the earth” by Ken Follett few years ago on recommendation from a friend and really liked the book and style of the author. “World without end” is a kind of sequel to “Pillars of the earth” but it is not necessary to have read the previous book to understand this one. The story of this book occurs in the same town of Kingsbridge some 150 years after the construction of the cathedral. This is a story of 14th century England when plague swept through the Europe and there were long wars with France. The war part does not interest me much and even though it is part of the background story and influences the lives of various characters, it is not all pervasive.

The main story is about common people of small town and their interaction with monks and nuns of cathedral and royalty. It is also the story of how power and politics plays the role in life of common people. More importantly it is the story that tells us that with little common sense and intelligence, some people are able to change their fate under circumstances that are completely against them. I really enjoyed the characters of Caris, Gwenda and Merthin who are able to change their destiny and along with that change the whole town of Kingsbridge for better. They were up against some very evil characters who were determined to crush them but these characters had the intelligence and perseverance to fight back and come out as winners.

It was the time in history when people really did not understand human body and how to fight diseases like plague. Even in that situation, small group of nuns led by Caris manage to find ways to reduce the spread of disease and also provide relief to people who were dying of plague.

It was a long book but it is my favorite genre and a really well written book that I did not want it to end. I just figured out that a TV mini-series was also made on the book and is available on Netflix. I am looking forward to reading that.

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“Safe Haven”, By Nicholas Sparks

Very interestingly, I have seen lot of movies that are based on Nicholas Sparks’s books but had never read any book by him. Even in the case of “Safe Haven”, I first noticed the movie but then came across the book before watching the movie. It looks like the author has perfected the art of writing touching, mixed with tragedy and romantic books that are very easy to adapt to movies and both books and movies have done very well.

This is the story of Katie who comes to live in a small town but is very reserved and does not want to mingle with anyone. She is almost scared to settle down or to reveal her past. Her neighbor helps her to overcome some of her hesitation and she falls in love with store owner Alex and his kids. The story unfolds to reveal an abusive policeman husband of Katie from whom she has been running away. She had tried running away earlier but was found by her husband. This time she planned it well and was able to hide for many months but eventually her husband is able to find her. There are twists and turns and a surprise ending.

The story reminds you a lot about “Sleeping with the enemy” but it extends the post runaway story more with romance between Alex and Katie. The most important part is of course appearance of a ghost that was surprising and something that I really did not like. I like surprises in romantic stories but not involving the ghosts even if they are friendly ones. In this story ghost is not the imagination but the actual real person somehow validating the concept of ghosts in real life. I was thinking of watching the movie after finishing the book but now I am not so sure.

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“The Cuckoo’s Calling”, By Robert Galbraith aka J. K. Rowling

Most likely I would not have read this book or even came across this if J. K. Rowling was able to keep it a secret. Once the secret was out, there was no way I would have missed reading it. She had written this book under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith and the secret was known to very few people but somebody ended up giving a hint. I read somewhere that somebody did a writing pattern study using some complex algorithm to figure out that it was actually written by same person who wrote Harry Potter. I am not sure whether this is true or not but I am sure glad that the secret came out.

The cuckoo’s calling is a detective mystery series in the similar tradition of Sherlock Holmes. Here the detective is Cormoran Strike and sidekick is his secretary Robin. First book is the story about supposed suicide of supermodel Lula Landry. Her adopted brother hires Strike to investigate the suicide. As it happens with such mystery stories, the investigation starts to unravel unknown facts, details that police could not find and eventually a very unlikely ending.

I like mystery series like this once in a while but more importantly I liked the interactions of Strike and Robin. She joins as secretary but slowly Strike realizes that she is much more valuable and is an asset in the investigation. Their personal equation also evolves during the story. It is not romantic since Robin already has boyfriend but it borderlines on getting there. It may not be the intention of author but I will definitely look forward to some romance happening between Robin and Strike down the line.

Of course this book is not comparable to Harry Potter and probably no book will ever be. But the aura of Potter series is such that I will read everything that Rowling ever writes.

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Filed under Books, Detective, Fiction, Mystery