Seven in One

Although I try to do regular book reviews, some times, some books reviews never get written. Which is a shame, when I would have loved to share what I thought about them. I have been planning to do a mini review for ages, so what better time than now, when I can do a ‘seven in one’.

Durbar by Tavleen Singh
Genre: Non-Fiction
I am an equally opportunity reader, I read all genres, all types of books. And absolutely love political books. When I read excerpts of Tavleen Singh’s Durbar, my interest was piqued. Luckily, I was in India at that time, and easily got hold of it. The book spans from around 1975 to the Rajiv Gandhi coming into Politics. It is less of a political commentary, more of a book born of Singh’s observations and experiences at a time when she was close to the powers that be, in the centre. She writes of the Nehruvian era of her childhood, the Emergency of her youth and the political shifts that followed. Of the birth and evolution of insurgencies in Punjab and Kashmir, the blood spilt in assassinations and massacres, of crises internal and external and the clumsy attempts to set things right. A very interesting book. A page turner, and not a boring moment in it and I think it gives you a perspective, maybe from the author’s point of view, but still, a perspective worth having, I would say.

Our Moon has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita
Genre: Non-Fiction
This has to be one of the most heart-wrenching books I have read. Rahul Pandita was fourteen years old in 1990 when he was forced to leave his home in Srinagar along with his family, who were Kashmiri Pandits: the Hindu minority within a Muslim majority Kashmir that was becoming increasingly agitated with the cries of ‘Azadi’ from India. The story of Kashmir through the eyes of the people forced to leave their home land. It is a heart-wrenching read, and one that gives you a perspective that is almost completely missing in modern commentary. Recommended, if you like books on political situations, but it is so easy read.

Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
Genre: Historical Fiction
Set in China’s Forbidden City, at a very turbulent time in China’s history, Tzu Hsi, known as Orchid, enters the Forbidden City as a minor ranking concubine. She soon realizes that life in the Forbidden City is not easy. She realizes that she has to play her parts right if she wants to survive. As a minor concubine, the only way, if she wants to rise in the hierarchy is to bear the emperor an heir, which is easier said than done. It takes more than a pretty face to get the emperor to come to the concubines. Orchid slowly learns the ways of the court and bears him a son. Little did she realize how even that is going to come with other complications.Nothing is simple is a court where power is supreme. It kept my interest throughout, especially given the fact that it is about history which I knew next to nothing about.

The Various Flavours of Coffee by Anthony
Genre: Historical Fiction
Of all of Capella’s book’s this is probably the one I enjoyed the least. Having said that, it is still a good book. Robert Wallis was leading a life which his father didn’t approve of, but had to finance. As a poverty struck poet, he believed that it was the way of poets. One day, having a cup of coffee at a London coffee house, his other talent is discovered by Samuel Pinker. His discerning palate which allows him to taste the different flavours of a cup of coffee. He is immediately employed by Pinker, much against his wishes, but given that his father had refused to support him, Robert had little choice in the matter. This employment of his takes him on a journey, filled with love, disappointments, travel and of course, various flavours of coffee. An interesting book. I found the latter part of the book far more engrossing and interesting. Especially the part with the suffrage movement and the way it ends. Definitely a worthy read.

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
Genre: Historical Fiction
A spare and haunting, wise and beautiful novel about the endurance of the human spirit and the subtle ways individuals reclaim their humanity during a ravaging war, says the blurb. And that is exactly what this book is all about. A musician sees twenty two of his friends killed in one shot, during the siege of Sarajevo. He picks up his cello and resolves to play it, come what may, for the next twenty two days, in their memory. Its a tale that moves you to tears, both by the desperate courage of the people as well as for the lives that are lost in so many wars. The small ways that people try to keep their lives normal, is touching and heart-wrenching. A beautiful book, but not the easiest of reads.

The Mummyfesto by Linda Green
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

This was a book which I picked on a lark, but it turned out to be a surprisingly interesting read. Three young women, regular mums, campaign to save their children’s school lollipop lady, they are asked by a TV reporter if they fancy standing in the general election.  What a crazy idea! But sometimes it is the craziest and the most improbable ideas that work. It was a really nice read of how three women, all with problems and issues of their own, took a chance and huge risks to make a difference. It made me wish it were true, and not fiction. I loved it, but then I love books on politics and books which hold out hope that regular people like us can make a difference.

Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris
Genre: Fiction

I love Joanne Harris’ writing. I don’t think I’ve been disappointed by any of her books. Blackberry wine is was no different. As a young boy, Jay Mackintosh had an old friend, Old Joe. Years later, Jay purchases an old farmhouse in France, without even seeing it. Something pulls him there. Turns out that the farmhouse is just like the one Joe wanted to buy for himself. Jay finds Joe there, and a solace which he had been seeking all along.  A rich and magical(if that’s the right word), story. One that compels you to read on. I love Harris’ descriptions, her characters, her plots. If you like Joanne Harris’ books, you will love it too. If you want to read a proper review, head here! This another of TGND recommended books and she never goes wrong with her recommendations 🙂

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013.

Write Tribe

27 thoughts on “Seven in One

  1. What a cool idea, Smitha. I have so many books I need to review too, I’m going to steal your idea someday soon after the Challenge. I feel that The Cellist of Sarajevo and Blackberry Wine are my kind of books. Hope to be able to read them soon.
    PS: Sorry I’m trying to play catch up with the comments – and hence a little slow on reading your posts.


  2. Superb listing of books there Smits! Been meaning to buy Tavleen Singh’s book ever since I found it recommended while browsing through Amazon’s lists. Now your review gives me the needed to push to pick it up! Marking all the books above to read 🙂

    Thank you Smits 🙂


  3. What lovely books you have been reading! I am J. 😀

    Thank you so much for the mention. Glad you enjoyed Blackberry Wine. I liked the book quite a bit myself. Have you heard the third book in the Chocolat series – Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure? I so want to read that.

    From your list, I would love to try out The Cellist of Sarajevo and The Various Flavors of Coffee. The second one I am not able to find here. The first one, I am hesitating because I know absolutely nothing about the siege of Sarajevo. Will I still understand the book?

    Have you read Memoirs of a Geisha? Grab it if you haven’t already! I can bet that you will love it!

    BTW, I am reading Nefertiti at the moment. Loving it so far. 🙂


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