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Book Nook - 28-11-2016

Monday, November 28, 2016
By Deepa Gahlot

There are Lit Fests taking place all over the country, but the community of readers is dwindling. Still, passionate book lovers would like to know what others like themselves are reading. This Book Nook suggests some books, but would also like to connect with serious readers, or even casual airport book browsers. Do write in about books you have loved or hated and why. The best entries will be shared on this page. Please send your recommendations to

End Of The Saga
The story could have gone on over a few more books, but Jeffrey Archer brings the Clifton Chronicles to a close with the seventh book, This Was A Man. It would help if the reader had caught the last six novels, but it works just as well as a standalone book. Still, a binge reading session or two is recommended.

The sprawling saga of the Clifton and Barrington families has been written by the bestselling author with a mix of gravity, liberal dashes of humour, as much emotion as the stiff-upper-lip British aristocratic backdrop would allow, and spice in the form of the colourful Lady Virginia, who deserves a series by herself.

Her shenanigans in Book 6, Cometh The Hour, were hilarious; here the smart, resourceful but perennially luckless Lady Virginia gets up to no good again, but she is just the comic relief. At the core of this book is the bitter political rivalry between Giles Barrington and his sister Emma Clifton, who find themselves on opposite sides in Parliament, but are perfectly civil and affectionate outside.

In the last book, Giles had spirited Karin out of East Germany, in this one he finds out the truth about her. Emma’s loving husband, Harry, a successful writer, embarks on his magnum opus. Their son Sebastian, a banker, deflects a hostile takeover bid with some deft moves of his own. Sebastian and Samantha’s daughter Jessica, a bright teenager, endangers her future over a disastrous fling.

Archer keeps the reader engrossed with frequent spikes—Karin’s dramatic rescue when her handler wants to kill her; the smooth defeat of business pirate Conrad Sorkin, and, of course, a ‘guest appearance by Margaret Thatcher.’

Archer is a master storyteller who knows exactly when to shock, when to awe and when to give readers a small breather from the frantic goings on. His style is direct, the writing brisk (perhaps a bit too much), dialogue workmanlike, but the twists and turns he comes up with are always satisfying.

Then, there’s Lady Virginia, who gives as good as she gets. You really want her financial woes to finally end, and for her to find some measure of peace from all that hectic scheming. Too bad she is left dangling when all the other ends are tied up in a neat ‘goodbye’ bow.

This Was A Man
By Jeffrey Archer
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Pages: 422

Excerpt of This Was A Man
‘What time are we commanded to attend Her Majesty’s pleasure?’ asked Emma, with a grin, unwilling to admit how proud she was of her husband, and how much she was looking forward to the occasion. Unlike the board meeting she would be chairing later that week, which was rarely far from her mind.

‘Any time between ten and eleven,’ said Harry, checking his invitation card. ‘Did you remember to book the car?’

‘Yesterday afternoon. And I double-checked first thing this morning,’ he added as the front doorbell rang.

‘That will be Seb,’ said Emma. She looked at her watch. ‘And he’s on time for a change.’ ‘I don’t think he was ever going to be late for this one,’ Karin said.

Giles rose from his place at the breakfast table when Markham opened the door and stood aside to allow Jessica, Seb and a heavily pregnant Samantha to join them.

‘Have you lot had breakfast?’ Giles asked, as he kissed Samantha on the cheek.

‘Yes, thank you,’ said Seb, as Jessica plonked herself down at the table, buttered a slice of toast and grabbed the marmalade. ‘Clearly not all of you,’ said Harry, grinning at his granddaughter.

‘How much time have I got?’ asked Jessica between mouthfuls.

‘Five minutes at the most,’ said Emma firmly. ‘I don’t want to arrive at the palace any later than ten thirty, young lady.’ Jessica buttered another piece of toast.
‘Giles,’ said Emma, turning to her brother, ‘it was kind of you to put us up for the night, and I’m only sorry you can’t join us.’

‘Immediate family only is the rule,’ said Giles, ‘and quite rightly, otherwise they’d need a football stadium to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend.’

There was a gentle tap on the front door.

‘That will be our driver,’ said Emma. Once again she checked that Harry’s silk tie was straight and removed a grey hair from his morning suit before saying, ‘Follow me.’

‘Once a chairman, always a chairman,’ whispered Giles, as he accompanied his brother-in-law to the front door. Seb and Samantha followed, with Jessica bringing up the rear, now munching her third piece of toast. As Emma stepped out on to Smith Square, a chauffeur opened the back door of a black limousine. She ushered her flock inside before joining Harry and Jessica on the back seat. Samantha and Seb sat on the two tip-up seats facing them.

‘Are you nervous, Grandpops?’ asked Jessica, as the car moved off and joined the morning traffic.

‘No,’ said Harry. ‘Unless you’re planning to overthrow the state.’

‘Don’t put ideas into her head,’ said Sebastian as they drove past the House of Commons and into Parliament Square. Even Jessica fell silent when the car drove through Admiralty Arch and Buckingham Palace came into sight. The chauffeur proceeded slowly up the Mall, driving around the statue of Queen Victoria before stopping outside the palace gates.

He wound down his window and said to the young Guards officer, ‘Mr Harry Clifton and family.’

The lieutenant smiled and ticked off a name on his clipboard. ‘Drive through the archway to your left and one of my colleagues will show you where to park.’ The driver followed his instructions and entered a large courtyard, where row upon row of cars were already parked.

‘Please park next to the blue Ford on the far side,’ said another officer, pointing across the yard, ‘then your party can make their way into the palace.’

When Harry stepped out of the car, Emma gave him one final check. ‘I know you’re not going to believe this,’ she whispered, ‘but your flies are undone.’

(Excerpted with Permission of the Publisher)

Former IAS officer Loveleen Kacker is an acclaimed writer of novels and stories for children. Platform No 10 is her second novel for adults. According to the synopsis: On the bustling platforms of Nizamuddin, an unexpected story is waiting to unfold. | Fleeing from a troubled past in an orphanage in Patna, young and destitute Ami finds himself on platform number 10 in Delhi’s Nizamuddin station, where Shetty Dada rules the platform boys with an iron fist. During the day, Ami tries his best to stay out of trouble, avoiding both the havaldars and the rag pickers, who sniff glue up on the roof. During the night, he dreams of home, and of one day having a family of his own. Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Janaki, an affluent young widow, finds herself struggling to hold on to her husband’s vast fortunes. Disillusioned by the betrayal of her family at the prospect of wealth, Janaki wonders whether she’ll ever find happiness again, and the strength to move on. When life brings Ami and Janaki face to face on platform number 10, their disparate worlds collide, setting off a series of events that will forever change their destiny.

Platform No 10
By Loveleen Kacker
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 262

Arnab Ray’s fourth novel is the first of a two-part crime tale, is a racy crime thriller set in north India. The synopsis states, “Having risen from being the son of a penniless refugee to an arms smuggler in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh, Arjun Bhatia now wields his influence as the biggest power-broker in Delhi, a man who can make and break governments. Cunning and ruthless, he runs his criminal empire with an iron hand, taking down his enemies by any means necessary and tightening the leash on his increasingly power-hungry sons. But when a path is forged in blood, it is hard to find peace. With rivals out to seek vengeance, his sons conspiring to take over the business and his daughter in open mutiny against his illegal actions, Arjun finds himself in the midst of a battle he cannot hope to win – especially when the darkest secret from his past catches up with him. Spanning across three decades, Sultan of Delhi is an explosive, gripping story of ambition, crime and passion that blurs the line between right and wrong.”

Sultan Of Delhi: Ascension
By Arnab Ray
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 292


Reader’s Recommendation
By Sandeep Hattangadi

This book is an account of a golden era in Indian cricket . A galaxy of stars like Sachin Tendulkar, The Little Master, The spin maestro Anil Kumble, Turbanator Harbhajan Singh, The Prince of Kolkata Saurav Ganguly, The Mr. Dependable Rahul Dravid, The Very Very Special Laxman, the Baroda Speedster Zaheer Khan,The Sultan of Najafgarh Virendra Sehwag, The Six Sixes in a over fame Yuvraj Singh., the World Cup Hero, and Captain Cool MS Dhoni. The author Kapil Pathare in a very realistic and succinct prose has compiled this book as a tribute to these ten men who were unarguably the demi-gods of Indian cricket. The book has a very well written foreword by Sri Lankan attacking batsman Sanath Jayasuriya,  This brief book is a must read for every cricket and sports lover. A good priced pick.    

A Tall Order
By Kapil Pathare
Publisher: Popular Sports Series
Pages: 103

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