Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford
This was a book club recommendation. It was a fun read and I felt so informed by the end. It talks about the early days of BBC and the teething problems they had especially when it came to getting people to turn away from print and towards broadcast as also to accept working women. In that it’s such a far cry from the world today, it was even more revealing. Hilda Matheson is the protagonist and was the force behind the Talks department at BBC in 1927. Her vision and energy made it the most popular department. The book is part fact, part fiction about women working at BBC and how they unearthed a plot to turn England fascist. It’s been well-researched and the world between reality and myth merges seamlessly. It is a glimpse into the women of that era. Their sole aim was to get married. Short skirts were frowned upon, homosexuality was reviled and virginity was valued seems such a distant concept today. And though women have not yet gained full equality with men, they have come a long, long way in the women’s rights movement. Stratford has an easy writing style and has a grip on what will keep her reader’s engaged.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Oh boy, I loved this book. Halfway through, I went on to Amazon and ordered the two sequels!! Its hysterically tragic. As an Asian, albeit from India, who lived a charmed life, my life was nowhere close to the novel’s characters. It’s an eye-opener into an extraordinary life of privilege and one-upmanship. Of bitching and camaraderie. The characters are so unbelievably believable. I can’t wait to see what happens in books two and three as we follow the Youngs, Shangs, Leongs, Khoos and their sundry friends and families in and out of their charmingly screwed up lives of private jets and mega carat jewels, of yachts and royalty, couture and Michelin starred cuisine. Snatch up all three copies and sit back for the ride.
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
After reading Circling the Sun about Beryl Markham, I had to read the book she wrote about her life. First off, the lady writes very well. Her descriptions had me salivating. And her love for Africa is evident. What amazes me about her is her work ethic. She was dedicated to whatever she did. Whether it was horse training or aviation. No hour was wrong. She woke at the crack of dawn, she got her hands soiled and she stayed up nights but she got the work done. And she began young. I feel a book such as this should be read by all young people drifting through life. It’s inspirational. If you believe in something, you can do it. Beryl led a colourful life but the book does not touch on any of her romantic escapades. Instead it focuses on her career and interesting stories and situations. True, elephant hunting is no longer acceptable today and rightly so, but in those days it was a popular sport so I made no judgements. Her book is an eye-opener in how British East Africa evolved as well as how other nations treated Africa especially the Italians in Libya. Their fascist nature probably laid the groundwork for what Libya is today. After reading the book, I feel like I am wasting my life. I also feel nostalgic for Africa. What a woman. Hats off to her. She was a pioneer in her days.
Sita by Amish
I read the previous book, Scion of Ikshvaku, the first in the Ramchandra series and finds Amish’s approach refreshing. He gives other angles and different scenarios that takes the story out of the blind hero worship and gives human, fallible qualities to the protagonists. That’s what I enjoy. And the twist is how women are empowered. In this book, his premise is that Sita is the incarnation of Vishnu. She decides to make Ram her co-Vishnu. She is not a pretty doormat but an equal partner in every possible way. Her warrior skills, her savvy leadership and her nurturing ability make her a complete woman. The twist at the end if kind of expected because there are hints all through. I just wish it was otherwise. Sets the story interestingly for book 3 on Raavana.