Anna Karenina

Anna KareninaThey say authors tend to write about what they know and have experienced. Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” is a perfect example for testifying that notion.

The story follows the lives of two main characters: Anna Karenina, who is married to a rich statesman leading the picture perfect family life while on the other hand we are acquainted with Levin, who is largely based on the author himself. Tolstoy takes the reader on a journey that explores the lives of two contrasting yet strangely connected personalities. Set in later 19th century Russia, which was then struggling to establish its socialist lines of governance, the novel is an interesting take upon the social as well as the personal implications of the people’s lives present at the time.

Besides being a political narration of the period, it gives the reader a glimpse of how the families of Russia were affected. Through Anna we meet the hollow yet seemingly happy Russian aristocratic wife who desperately searches for some joy in her mundane life filled with a parade of endless cotillions and banquet galas. Having a husband who is more keen on making a mark in the political sphere of the time, is unperturbed by his wife’s need for some love and attention. Count Vronsky , her paramour, comes to her like a breath of fresh air. Here ensues the passionate yet disruptive affair between Anna and Vronsky.

Socially unaccepted, this is where all hell breaks loose and everything seems to go haywire for the attention-seeking housewife. On the other hand, Levin, our mirror image of the author tries to find solace in the simple things in life after being disdained by his beloved “Kitty”. He then to fill the emptiness so created in his life takes up the task of reconciling with his dysfunctional and estranged brother Nikolay.

Although Anna appears to find some reason to smile by taking the help of Vronsky’s affection for her, the inner demon of insecurities in her begin to strike as she feels inadequate among other things to be the receiver of Vronsky’s love. This leaves her dejected and unhappy bringing her back to her original sullen state of mind that ultimately results in her committing suicide. Her death not only destroyed her own gift of life but also ruined her family, left her son without a mother and left Vronsky broken hearted.

Tolstoy executes some remarkable imagery in his writing and succeeds in giving the reader a lifelike description of the thoughts and emotions of the characters in the novel. Even though the novel tends to get slightly monotonous due to its great length it manages to hold the reader’s attention to itself due to the staggering upheavals that are shown to arise in the protagonists’ lives and in society as well. The political analysis made by the writer of late 19th century Russia is complex and brilliantly detailed offering the reader a panoramic view of the mindsets and direction political thought found in Russians of the time.

Thus, Tolstoy emerges victorious in delivering a masterpiece of a love story coupled with a socio-political insight all in one great package in the form of “ Anna Karenina” that is read by people of all ages, from all generations.

Chandni Ghatak

II PPES O

Pride and Prejudice

Pride & PrejudiceJane Austen was a famous novelist of 1800’s because of her realistic social commentaries and use of irony in her works. Pride and Prejudice is considered a masterpiece in English literature. According to me, Jane Austen was the first person to narrate human psyche and that of the society in her works. The story revolves around Elizabeth Bennet (Lizzy) and her family which include her parents and her four sisters. The story begins when a wealthy bachelor Charles Bingley arrives at their town to rent their neighboring estate. Mrs Bennet whose only ambition is to marry her five daughters off well wants Jane (the eldest daughter) to marry Mr Bingley.

As the story continues, Lizzy happens to meet the handsome friend of Mr Bingley, Fitzwilliam Darcy who is the richest man in the town. Lizzy is prejudiced by his stern manners and creates false notions about Darcy’s conduct. Darcy’s pride that he is the richest man and has no business with an ordinary girl of the middle class too creates hurdles in their relationship initially. Meanwhile Lizzy shows special interest in George Wickham, a military officer and a strong rival to Darcy. On the other hand Darcy constantly battles against his pride and rejection from Lizzy. Lizzy who is taken in by Wickham’s amiable nature and influential talks, intensifies her prejudices about Darcy. Does Elizabeth understand her folly? And will Darcy be able to accept Lizzy keeping aside his pride? And will the couple be able to overcome other hurdles in their way? , the rest of the plot answers these questions

It is interesting to note that Jane Austen has portrayed five different shades of women of the Victorian society through the five sisters. Jane, the eldest one, is a model of a perfect Victorian lady as she is innocent and elegant in her manners. She does not have any critical opinion about the society or its norms. In contrary, Elizabeth is more judgmental and is easily prejudiced. Lydia, the youngest of all, is stubborn and flirtatious and shows no regard to any moral codes. Catherine is a replica of Lydia as she follows her manners in all ways. Jane Austen has showed us the earliest model of today’s “nerd” through the third sister, Mary who is totally out of the matters of her sisters. Mr. Bennet is sensible and polite, but however is least interested in the family matters.

Thus this novel basically talks about Pride and Prejudice as the two evils in the way of understanding people. It also portrays the hierarchy in the early Victorian society, its family beliefs and its societal norms. Therefore the book Pride and Prejudice is considered a classic of all times.

Pooja Shenoy D R

II PPES O

 

Cloud Atlas

Cloud AtlasWritten by British novelist David Mitchell, ‘Cloud Atlas’ is a thought-provoking, puzzling, and massive bulk of literature that propels the reader into not just another world, but six different ones, in six different time lines.

Though there are definitely longer books in print currently, the 544 pages that comprise the novel make for the most challenging reading this reviewer has had the pleasure of sitting down for.

The description of the plot may be a task one may consider as “hard to accomplish” to say the least. This is due to the fact that Mitchell’s novel comprises of 6 interwoven stories that are perplexing at first, but rewarding as each story is told to its end and especially so when the final page is turned.

Each story occurs in a different time period, ranging from the 1850’s, the early 2000’s, and even extending (and ultimately ending) in a time many centuries in the future. Each story is told from the main protagonist’s perspective, and usually in the form of a memoir being read by someone at a future time. Each story is also told in the rich dialogue patterns present at that time, and as Mitchell imagines would be present in the future. This makes for a very challenging prospect as the reader is forced to acclimate themselves to not only the shifting time period, surroundings and characters, but also the method in which these variables are introduced and described. It isn’t as arduous a task as the reviewer makes it sound, but it is simply a challenge, and a worthwhile one.

The first story is that of Adam Ewing, an American notary in the 1850’s and his travels in the “New World”. His story is told in the form of a travelogue or a memoir that is ultimately read by the protagonist of the second story, Robert Frobisher.

Frobisher is an English composer several years before World War 2, writing letters to his gay lover as he recounts his daily life as an amanuensis for an older but famous Composer. Frobisher’s piece (named Cloud Atlas), is found and heard by Louisa Ray in 1975.

She is a reporter and her story recounts her attempts to uncover a conspiracy revolving around a newly built and soon-to-be open nuclear power plant.

The fourth story occurs somewhere in the first decade of the 21st century, and details the “ghastly ordeal” of Timothy Cavendish, a vanity press publisher, who fearing a pair of money hungry relatives of a client, runs away and gets unknowingly institutionalized in an old persons home. Louisa Ray’s novelized version of her story is in the possession of Mr. Cavendish (considering he is a publisher).

The 5th story recounts the inhumane life and working conditions break-out, mental ascension, and ultimate acceptance as a rebellion leader, of a clone (or a fabricant) named Somni-451 in a dystopian Korea at least two centuries in the future (though a specific date is never revealed). She recounts in the end, that the only time she was ever really happy, was when she was able to watch a film adaptation of a story about a man from a previous century named Timothy Cavendish.

Similarly in the 6th and final story, we are left guessing as to the year and century. It details the life of Zachry, a man in a tribe on an island that is forced to live in fear of another cannibalistic tribe as well as the supposed Devilish entity that seems to stalk the island and tempt its inhabitants they have named, Ol’ Georgie. This is coupled with the very advanced civilization that makes contact with the tribe to trade and learn their ways. The members of Zackry’s tribe pray to a Goddess named Somni who lived before a time they call “The Fall”.

These stories are woven together with subtlety and finesse, and put forward in broken form, at least at first. Each story is told in half, and Mitchell moves on to the next. It is only when he has told his 6th story in its entirety does he literally retrace his steps and finish his stories, all the while skillfully and poetically connecting them, putting forth the themes of reincarnation, the importance of the preservation of the soul, and the ability of human beings to be cruel and kind in perfectly equal measures and with the utmost ease.

On a personal note, I have only turned the final page of a novel and found myself with a wide smile on my face on 2 previous occasions, those are, with Prey by Michael Crichton, and The Guns of Naverone by Alistair Maclean, although never on this scale. For this is a deeply moving novel, written with a knowledge of the English language and a gift for plotting that rivals the best in literature, that has a very profound message that is only made clear on repeated readings.

Adam Khan

II PPES ‘O’

 

Many Lives, Many Masters

Many Master, Many LivesThis is a very interesting book about a psychiatrist and his patient. The author Brian Weiss is the head of the psychology department, has written several books on psychology but none based on the confessions of his patient. The story revolves around one of the doctor’s patients who has several fears like fear of closed spaces, water, trusting people etc. the doctor tries lots of techniques to cure her but it doesn’t work so he uses the hypnosis therapy to get results. The patient goes into a sub conscious state and starts talking about her various past lives. Each past life holds a trauma which is now affecting her present life. So, the doctor uses this information to cure her of her present anxieties.

The plot of this book raises a curiosity on the subject of past lives. Do we all have past lives? Do past traumas affect our present lives? Are people associated with us in our past lives born again to be associated with us again? These questions can be answered in the book but is purely based on your belief.
The book says that the patient had died in a drowning accident in one of her past lives, had been betrayed by her lover, died of a sickness etc. hence her present fear of water, can’t trust people, breathlessness in closed spaces etc. Some people may have an opinion that everything was in the patient’s mind and imagination and the fact that the doctor was a psychiatrist convinced her and put her through hypnosis cured her but some may feel that her confessions in such detail could not have been made up in such detail.

The book ends with the doctor telling us about life and death and how not to fear death as it is not the end.

The book does leave on a positive note, to face your fears and not let the fear of death over take you.

Swetha V Rao

II CAMS J

A Cry in the Night

A Cry in the NightMary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Clark, an American author of suspense novels has written 42 books including the above novel ‘ A Cry in the Night ‘. Each of her books have been best sellers and loved by majority of the people. Mary started writing at a very young age and her debut novel was ‘ George Washington ‘ and soon she released ‘ Aspire to Heavens ‘ in the year 2002. Some of her other works include ‘Ghost Ship’, ‘The Cradle will fall’,  ‘ Stillwatch ‘ and her autobiography ‘ Kitchen Privileges ‘ etc. She was awarded the Grand Master of the 2002 Edgar awards. A Cry in the Night was published by Simon and Schuster.

‘ A Cry in the Night ‘ is a wonderful suspense about the life of a divorced single mother. As the name suggests, the story prevails around pain and suffering of Jenny Marcpartland, when her life is darkened by the shadows of her new husband Erich Krueger. Jenny lives with her two daughters in New York city working in an art Gallery. She has divorced her ex-husband Kevin Marcpartland and takes all the responsibility of her two children Beth and Tina. In the midst of her busy life Jenny does not realize that she was in love with Erich Krueger. Erich taking advantage of the situation traps her in his love. Erich and Jenny are married within a very short period leaving Jenny blindfolded to his darker side.

Soon after the marriage, Erich takes Jenny and her two children to the farm, a beautiful country side house. Erich was very possessive about Jenny and imposed high restrictions on her freedom. Jenny soon realizes that she was risking her life and wanted to go back to New York. The suspense of the story is thrilling and the ends in a surprise.

The theme of the novel is that marriage is a choice  and yet should not be a hasty decision.

Sanchita Reddy

II CAMS ‘J’

The Naked Face

The Naked FaceSidney Sheldon has written a number of mystery and crime novels along with screen plays for more than 20 motion pictures. The Naked Face was his first novel which gained him a lot of popularity in the world of literature.

The book highlights the story of Judd Stevens who is a psychoanalyst. His profession in the book is described as a very twisted one. Every day, Judd has to deal with various patients of various backgrounds.

The book begins with the character of John Hanson being murdered. The entire book revolves around two detectives Mc Greavy and Angeli who try investigating the case.

The writing style of the author really captured my attention. The  language was simple and to the point. The book was extremely interesting and once you start reading it’s hard to put it down.

Every aspect of the book is covered very well and it gives you an insight to almost everything. It keeps you guessing who the killer is and is crafted very well. It is a must read for all crime fans.

AMREEN BADANI

II PPES ‘O’