The Four-Pools Mystery: Jean Webster

Title: The Four-Pools Mystery
Author: Jean Webster
Buy it from: Flipkart, or download from Amazon Kindle store for free

I had read ‘Daddy Long Legs’ and ‘Dear Enemy’ a few weeks back and had enjoyed it. Then another friend recommended ‘Just Patty’ and ‘When Patty went to college’ and I liked these books too. So I googled for more of Webster’s works and found that she has also written a murder mystery. Now mystery is my most favourite genre ever, so I downloaded ‘The Four-Pools Mystery’ and got to reading it right away. It has Jean Webster’s playful style of narration combined with a solid mystery plot-line, and I loved it a lot!

This story takes place at a South American plantation where Colonel Gaylord and his son Radnor live and look after their large farmland. Things are not amicable between the father and the son, the Colonel being very controlling and young Radnor headstrong. To add to the troubles a ghost has made an appearance at their house, sometimes pilfering trifles and sometimes things of great value. Soon enough tragedy strikes and it is up to a sharp eyed New York reporter to unravel the mystery and set things right.

Jean Webster has created a nice and tight plot for this little mystery. Her characters are endearing and the novel is generous at heart. Webster is a fun author to read and the simplicity and innocence of her stories really reaches out to you.

In conclusion: I loved ‘The Pour Pools Mystery’ and I am sure you all will like it too. It is a great book to pick up on a rainy evening and I recommend it for its fun and easy narrative style. 

Book Source: Self

Swimming Home: Deborah Levy

Title: Swimming Home
Author: Deborah Levy
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Buy it from: FlipkartAmazon Kindle store
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012

A peaceful family vacation in the sunny Nice, away from the wars and economic crises, is not really going well for the two holidaying families. Jozef, a famous poet, rich and successful, is married to the tough Isabel, a war correspondent and they have a teenage daughter Nina. Mitchell and Laura run a shop in Euston selling African jewellery. There are rifts in the relationships and there are financial pressures, and the swimming pool with its cloudy water has spat out a beautiful girl in their midst. Kitty Finch, mysterious, young and depressed, more like a missing piece in everybody’s life, has gatecrashed into their holidays and their lives.

The novel progresses on the edge of turmoil. The disintegrating state of the world, the gory face of war haunt Isabel, while Jozef’s eerie childhood, his own stints with depression have taken him to a very fragile place. Their teenage daughter Nina is herself going through a delicate phase, looking for an emotional anchor, slightly jealous of her own mother. Mitchell and Laura have their own problems too; their shop is steadily going downhill. Kitty Finch arrives at the villa in the middle of these tensions. Kitty has written a poem, which she calls a conversation with Jozef. Her whole existence seems to revolve around the poem, and her single minded obsession with getting Jozef’s views on the poem. But Kitty’s poem titled ‘Swimming Home’ perhaps is not a poem at all; it is a question she has posed for them all, a challenge waiting to be accepted. As Laura and Mitchell find a support for their failing finances, Isabel lets go of her control, and Jozef finally answers his own question, Nina finds her vacation take a completely unnatural turn.

Swimming home is a complex story. It is not a simple linear, narrative. In fact, timeline does not seem to be crucial to the story. We are offered glimpses into the minds of the characters, the long standing hurts and their final culminations. Levy’s writing is lucid, beautiful, and she creates a powerful collage of emotions in this novel.
But, even though I loved the prose, I was not completely happy with the novel as a whole. It felt incomplete. Levy has created some very strong characters, and weaves intense themes, but these themes seem to lead up to a rushed ending. Levy is clearly a talented writer and I felt a longer novel would have done justice to the story she wanted to tell.

In conclusion: I will recommend this novel for its unusual narrative style, and powerful prose, but unfortunately the novel as a whole left me somewhat dissatisfied.

Book Source: Self

Things that happened this monsoon

The monsoon is almost at its end. I barely got to blogging while the rains delayed and then came back in torrents. I did read some fun books in this time though: "Daddy Long Legs" and "Dear Enemy" recommended by two of my dear friends. I also bought some books, both of the paper and e-paper variety.

Then I helped Debu (my artist husband) shift to his new studio space. It was hugely exciting!

Things got even more exciting when we bought our new car, our super cute Volkswagen Polo!

Then we went on a short but wonderful road trip into North Karnataka. We saw some beautiful temples and had great rides on the rainy green roads in the Sahyadris.

I changed the header of my blog, and now I am back to reading more and blogging more too. The festive season is here with more holidays and I hope to find more time for reading.
I am going to try and read some of the Booker shortlisted books before the winner is announced on October 16. It is a fun goal and also a motivation to read more in the next couple of weeks. Happy reading to all of you too!