Month: April 2009

Swallowing Grandma – Review

Swallowing Grandma By Kate Long, finished reading on 12-April-2009



“Katherine Millar is eighteen and desperate to be less fat, less swotty, and to have cooler friends. But most of all, she wishes she had two parents, instead of one grandma, Poll. Poll is pushing seventy, half blind and utterly poisonous. She has looked after Katherine since she was a baby, when her father was killed in a car crash and her mother vanished. Poll’s ambition is for things to stay exactly the same for ever, and for Katherine never to leave their pit village of Bank Top. Katherine has other ideas, and she can feel change is coming; the omens are all around her. In the meantime, she cleans up after Poll, revises for her exams, watches daytime television and surfs the Net at the library to find out how to be bulimic. What she doesn’t quite realize yet is that life won’t always wait for you to catch up with it”

I took this book for reading right after ‘The bad mothers handbook’ by the same author. Since TBMH was interesting, I was very eager to read the book. After going through the initial chapters, it was very evident that the book was going to be a bore. True to expectations, it was a very slow story. Crust of the story is very thin. There is nothing much for the readers to devour apart from the twist at the end of the story.

After all these years of reading, I strongly believe that if the readers could relate themselves with the protagonist, they will definitely hold the book till it ends. Even if author decided to explain the whole story as a third person from the protagonists point of view, reader empathies with the protagonists and makes him or her the whole centre of the story. At the same time, it is really appreciable if the author could portray or reveal the character or situation of protagonist in the first few chapters. Any change in this, unless and until it really affect the story line, is really not a thing I look forward to and I do feel, it is like keeping the readers behind the curtain unnecessarily. It will definitely not make a good read for me. Another readers, with a different perception can differ on this part.

Katherine, the eighteen year old, is not a strong character who can be the centre of the story. With the exception of Vince Millar and Elizabeth Millar, all the other characters failed to etch a mark in the novel and none of them vividly stand out in the crowd. Vince Millar and Elizabeth Millar, two good-sketched characters in the novel, are the only solace for me to hold till end. The title character, ‘Poll’, I think she does get some sympathy even after the author sketched her in black. Overall, the book was dull and dragging. It did not keep up with TBMH. Don’t go after this book just because of TBMH. It is a completely different novel.

The only one thing I liked about this novel, is the so-mother-so-daughter concept. How much ever both are physically non-alike, there tend to be a lot of similarities between them. This concept is very beautifully captured in this novel. Considering this positive part I will give a rating of two to this book.

Rating 2/5


The Bad Mother’s Handbook – Review

The Bad Mother’s Handbook by Kate Long, Finished Reading on 4-April-2009

a bad mothers handbook


“1997: the year Blair was elected, and Diana died: and the year that changed everything for Charlotte, Karen, and Nan. Charlotte is doing her A-levels. And she’s pregnant. Karen, her mother, is thirty-three; now she’s about to be a grandmother. How chuffed is she with that? And then there’s Nan, who isn’t so bothered about her granddaughter’s pregnancy – she has other things on her mind. Where is she again?”

Warning: Spoilers

After Salman Rushdie’s fury I took this book for light reading. By the name of the book, I presumed it is going to be a funny, hilarious account of some teenager’s love story. Its turned out be a good read instead of a read-enjoy-and-forget kind.

The story is presented to the readers in a slightly different kind of way. It goes by narration of three women’s thoughts. I found it confusing initially. Story of 3 generations, separated by stars!!!. Novel starts with Charlotte, a seventeen year old and her boyfriend paul having sex in Charlotte’s room and her Nan, suffer ring from dementia, gatecrashes the entire in search of a horse scene without knowing what’s happening. Though novel starts with a funny note, towards the end its a touching story which will definitely pull some strings of past in the readers.

Nan, an omnipresent character throughout the novel, reminded me of my grandmother and the short trip we used to take to the local shop. With grandparents, we used to have our own way right?. As time passes, they tend to go back in time in their thoughts where they can be more secure. May be in some way or the other I could relate with Nan and I loved her so much. Nan, who eats posts, puts tea bags in flowerpots and who loves to have belly pork for breakfast, lunch and dinner makes the soul of this novel.

Nan’s adopted daughter, Karen who is in a run to find the lost elements of her past, really makes a comeback to life when she finds out the past is nothing similar to what she expected. Having found the missing piece of her life and Emma, she tries to do a makeover of her life. Charlotte and Daniel, they do make the novel interesting with their romantic love story and Daniel, with his ‘bloody internet’ is really interesting. At the same time, Daniel’s own story, ‘oh-my-parents-don’t-love-each-other’, did not make the impact at least for me :).

Overall the book is pretty interesting and touching with a different narration style. I really liked it and will recommend this book to readers who like to read a touch and Happy ending books. Mind you guys; it is definitely not a Bridget jones or devil who wears prada though there is a definite dose of comedy splattered around the book. It will really make a good read and will drift you to a tranquilent mood with plenty of witty junctures spread across the novel till the end.

Rating 3.5/5

Fury – Review

Fury by Salman Rushdie, Finished Reading on 30-March-2009


By selecting Fury as my first review, I think I just have done the unthinkable. I wonder how I ended up with this book. I have got about 150 books in my shelf which I have not read. May be some unknown force wanted me to start my blog with a classic review of this well-known book. It took me total eight days to complete this two fifty six page book. Considering my normal hundred and sixty page per day speed, its really a long time.

Jacket cover synopsis:

“Malik Solanka, historian of ideas and dollmaker extraordinaire, steps out of his life one day, abandons his family without a word of explanation, and flees London for New York. There’s fury within him, and he fears he has become dangerous to those he loves. He arrives in New York at a time of unprecedented plenty, in the highest hour of America’s wealth and power, seeking to ‘erase’ himself. Eat me, America, he prays, and give me some peace.But fury is all around him.”

After reading the first few pages of fury, I thought the pages might have shuffled or there might be some printing mistake. Initially I was just rushing along the pages to find some meaning to all the incoherent chapters. Finally after a lot of rereading, and brooding, I got the glimpses of the story line. May be I am not intellectually evolved completely to digest all the information in one shot or may be author purposefully wanted to put a opaque frame in front of the readers to keep up interest. Frankly saying, it took a great deal of time for me to understand the story thread. May be it is because of the lengthy paragraphs which does not separate conversations into a separate paragraphs. Despite of the initial boredom and dragging end, story does seem to be interesting in the middle.

While going though the ramblings of Solanka’s mind, it suddenly stuck me that may be sometimes I do ramble like this. From that moment onwards, I liked this novel. It is just an earnest representation of a man’s fury. While reading this novel, I came across lot of paragraphs which I consider as few of the best-written paragraphs ever. Story, with such scope for high emotional quotient, is really handled well by the empathetic narration. Other than the commendable writing, the story as such did not make any impact on me. It reminded me of a Malayalan novel ‘Gasakkinte ithihasam’ which I read long back. I felt the same emotions are portrayed here also even thought the story is different. Author never says whether protagonist overcomes his fury in the end of the story. It is up to the readers to decide. I particularly like the quote in the last pages of the novel. ‘Something is pushing them…To the side of their own lives’.

As a whole I would not rate this book more than 2.5 out of 5 and the mostly points goes to the narration style which irritated me to death in the starting. If reader is looking for a mood-lifting Bridget jones kind of reading, I will not recommend this book at all. Its apt for a reader who is in a retrospection mood. It may help you to stir up the emotions while reader reaches the final chapters.

Rating 2.5/5