Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Go set a Watchman – Harper Lee

Writing this blog post becomes difficult this time, as I write about my most favorite author and the most awaited book of the year. A lot of nostalgia moments attached to this one, I started my blog with my first book review post of – 'To kill a mockingbird', and after a year I am on the same standpoint again. 

Ever since it was in news, that Harper Lee’s next is titled- 'Go Set a Watchman', I was inquisitive and ran the horses of my mind - what could it possibly mean? In fact, this is the question that would arise in the mind of anyone who hears about it; just like the title-‘To Kill a Mockingbird’- draws you instantly and is apt. 

So, the book starts with Jean Louise coming home to Maycomb for her vacation, and in her mind she holds a lot of questions and expects a lot of mayhem to be heard from her father. The book sees Scout’s character as the same, determinant, woman of words, independence of thoughts, only rather it is the amplified version of what we read in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. However, she has made peace with her aunt Alexandra on some matters because she considers highly of her, leaving her house and staying with Atticus to take care of him. Atticus has now grown old, and to his support is Henry Clinton, Scout’s childhood friend and now beau. Henry works with Atticus and handles a lot more for him, now that age has taken a toll over him and with Jem’s demise, Henry is like family. Some characters have been repeated from the previous part, so it’s not difficult to connect with them in the flow of the content. 

What you might have really liked in “To kill a mockingbird” you might not find it here, and it might prove to be a disappointment for one of our beloved characters- Atticus Finch - is observed in racial ties and found supporting the “color” which he always stood against. The main story unfolds when Jean Louise discovers her Father from the courtroom balcony, in a meeting with know-who’s of Maycomb  in a citizens council; which speaks of Negro’s holding a backseat in Maycomb. The presence of Atticus is rather displeasing to her and Henry is his accomplice. The whole describing of Jean Louise feelings, and her traumatic discovery has been put down really well, it takes you back to “To kill a Mockingbird”; remembering the teachings of Atticus to Scout and Jem. And for the particular instance you really connect to Scout, and all that Atticus Finch ever read to her making her sit on her lap, which all of it now holds no value after the stab of discovery. 

Dr. Finch or Uncle Jack as we know him finally comes to the rescue of Jean Louise. The paraphrase where he makes her understand that her father is not a saint but a human is aptly drafted. Also, that now she should move on from Saint Atticus, and put him in a position where humans should be. And as a father, what he taught Scout and Jem, he always stood by it and is rather happy today to see that her daughter stands against him on the same values and virtues which she was bred in. That is when Uncle Jack makes her realize that it is her Conscience which made her swear her dad and that she could put her voice before him, stand up to him without any second thoughts; which finally describes the title of the book.
‘Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience’
                                                                                        -          Go Set a Watchman

Harper Lee’s narration and words never disappoint you and so it holds true in this case. But somehow it does not bring back the same cult, refreshing, cheerful flavor of 'To kill a Mockingbird', probably because it had more of seeing Jem, Scout and Dill grow up with Boo Radley, and their adventures. Also, Atticus was all through the book, whether it was the court room or teaching his children words of wisdom, he really made a greater impact. Reading something against one of the iconic parent in history does feel depressing. Also, I really wanted to know what happened to Boo Radley, no mention of it was dismay. 

With the end of this book, I think it is an end of an era; of classic writing. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Scion of Ikshvaku –Amish Tripathi

I was determined to read this one, as his previous work on The Shiva trilogy had left me with lot of questions- not completely satisfied but very impressed by the tri-series. Hence, I wanted to read Amish again, pondering what his next could be, and when I saw the magnanimous cover page of ‘Scion of Ikshvaku’, I just hoped in my heart that it be worth the wait. No surprises then, that like those of his million reader fans, mine was also a pre-ordered copy, signed by the Author and had a bookmark too. (And I loved the bookmark!)

Just like in his previous series, Amish explores the idea of Gods as human beings before they achieved their stature. The Scion of Ikshavaku is the first book of Amish's new series - 'The Ram Chandra Series'. How eventful Lord Ram’s life was as a child and later, when he abided with law and righteousness, and dreamt of building a society based on moral, ethical and social values, how his courage and dharma towards his father makes his heart melt, and he accepts his son with open arms. Ram, who did not get the love of his father since his birth because he held his newly born son responsible for his only war defeat against the Lankan emperor Ravana, wins Ayodhya’s love once again by defeating him in Mithila. The threat though is still prevalent as Ravana, nursing a bruised ego, is bound to return. Meanwhile, Ram,Sita and Lakshman serve penance of fourteen years for using the daivi Astra- Asurastra, which is the law as per the Vayuputras, which technically could have been neglected for Ram, but the lord who has a law-abiding persona, could he have broken the rules? What example would it set for his people- Ayodhyans?
The writing of the characters is apt, however the character I enjoyed reading most was Lakshman, which obviously comes as a surprise since the limelight is on Ram. The witty punch lines given to Lakshman highlight his temperament perfectly. The calm presence and aura of Lord Ram have been maintained throughout; the first two pages describe Lord Ram positioned for taking an aim which is very impressive, but apart from the placate posture there is no other trait adding to his personality in the book. While reading The Immortals of Meluha, I was completely swept off my feet with the way the character of Shiva was carved in words. And I remember, the impact was too high to take it out of mind. It is one of the biggest reasons why The Immortals of Meluha won hearts. Hence, I felt the characterisation of the protagonist was a dipping point in this novel. Again, by writing about the character of Roshni, Manthra’s daughter, Amish has paid a tribute to India’s Nirbhaya. And the only hopeful thing here is, it costs criminals their life for their ruthless crime, and justice is settled, although the entire sequence looks out of place. The mis-fits like- the happenings with Roshni, sudden appearance of Guru Vishwamitra and taking Ram away; break the flow of a saga. Also, the book appears to be a prequel to the Shiva Trilogy, which is obvious as Meluha was based on Ram Rajya. But, apart from that, the appeal of the book is no different than the Shiva Trilogy. Reader feels that he’s back to reading Meluha, which seems inappropriate at some places. The freshness of starting a new series was missed.
The book gets interesting towards the end, when the fourteen years of penance are about to finish and something unexpectedly shocking occurs, surprisingly the entire 14 year “vanvas” has a swift wrap up in the book. The closure introduces the most sought after and favorite character- Hanuman, which is a delight because Ramayana is incomplete without him and the playful but loyal disciple as we know him; it’s going to be amusing to read him further. I really wish the book didn't have to end like that- it leaves you unsettled, wishing to read more of it and making you anxious wondering how part-2 will start, but then again, maybe that was the plan after all to keep the viewers hooked and eagerly await the next.
I am certainly waiting for the next in the series to be out soon, because I am looking out for various answers, and hopefully the one’s I listed as mis-fits have a proper explanation in the second part. One prime reason to be reading Amish is also that, he deftly writes his genre. And, after The Shiva triology, the next best chronicle to pen down would have been none better than a script based on Ramayana. I want to enjoy the Part-II, like I relished reading- The Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of the Nagas- the best duo from the triology.

Goa- A new revelation. All credits to this dainty place- Literati Bookshop Café   The ceiling-high bookshelves I was in Goa last m...