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 [email protected]
Wine And Thorns
The very prolific (164 books and counting!) Danielle Steel’s new novel, Fairytale is about a modern-day Cinderella, who has to deal with a vicious stepmother and two nasty stepbrothers.
In her usual rushed style, Steel races through the romance and marriage of Christophe and Joy Lamennais, their setting up of a successful winery in the Napa Valley and the birth of their daughter Camille.
It is interesting to read about how the business of wines, and life among the vinters of the region, their connections and traditions—apart from Christophe, there is his best friend Sam, his wife Barbara and son Phillip.
Soon, Joy dies of cancer, and Barbara does too. Camille throws herself into the work of running the winery and supporting her grieving and lonely father. Then, into the tightly knit social circle of the Valley, comes the glamorous French widow, Maxine de Pantin.
She makes a play for Sam, who is not taken in by her charm, but Christophe is bewitched. She uses her polished seduction techniques to hook him and before he knows it, she is married to him and installed in the chateau that Camille’s parents has built with such love. She gets her tentacle into the business and summons her wastrel sons, Alexandre and Gabriel to the Lamennais home and starts throwing her weight and her new husband’s money around.
Like the evil stepmother of the classic fairytale, she is horrid to Camille and does everything she can to get her hands on the chateau and the winery. The fairy godmother turns out to be Maxine’s own delightfully French mother, the independent and plain-speaking Simone.
In popular bestsellers there is usually no veering away from the formula so Maxine’s unsavoury past is exposed and her spoilt, greedy sons defeated; it is interesting and funny to read how. This one has more plot and substance than some of Steel’s other recent books—a quick and entertaining read.
By Danielle Steel
Excerpt of Fairytale
It was March in the Napa Valley, just under sixty miles north of San Francisco, and Joy Lammenais’s favorite time of year. The rolling hills were a brilliant emerald green, which would fade once the weather grew warmer, and get dry and brittle in the summer heat. But for now, everything was fresh and new, and the vineyards stretched for miles across the Valley. Visitors compared it to Tuscany in Italy, and some to France.She had come there for the first time with Christophe twenty-four years before, while she was getting her master’s in business administration at Stanford, and he was taking graduate classes in oenology and viticulture. He had painstakingly explained to her that oenology was everything about making wine, and viticulture was about planting and growing grapes. His family had been making famous wines in Bordeaux for centuries, where his father and uncles ran the family winery and vineyards, but his dream had been to come to California and learn more about the wines and vineyards and vintners in the Napa Valley. He had confided to Joy that he wanted a small winery of his own. It had just been a vague hope at first, a fantasy he would never indulge. He assumed that he would go back to France to follow the expected path, like his ancestors and relatives before him. But he fell in love with California and life in the States, and became more and more passionate about the vineyards in the Napa Valley during his year at Stanford. His father’s sudden death at an early age, while Christophe was at Stanford, left him with an unexpected windfall of money to invest, and suddenly made establishing his own winery in the United States not only enticing but feasible. After they both finished graduate school in June, he had gone home to France in the summer to explain it to his family, and came back in the fall to bring his plan to fruition.Joy was the most exciting woman he’d ever met, with a diversity of talents. She had a natural gift for anything related to business or finance. And at the same time, she was a painter and artist, had taken classes in Italy over several summers, and could easily have pursued a career in art. She struggled with the decision for a while in college. Her teachers in Italy had encouraged her to forget business. But in the end, her more practical side won out, and she kept her painting as a hobby she loved, and focused on her entrepreneurial goals. She had an instinctive sense of what the best deals were, and wanted to work in one of the Silicon Valley high-tech investment firms, before starting her own venture capital firm one day. She talked to Christophe about it constantly.She knew nothing about wine when they met, and he taught her during the year they spent together. She wasn’t really interested in vineyards and wineries, but the way he explained it all brought it to life for her and made it seem almost magical. He loved making wine as much as she did painting, or her fascination with creative investments. Agriculture seemed like risky business to her. So much could go wrong, an early frost, a late harvest, too much rain, or too little. But Christophe said that was part of the mystery and beauty of it, and when all the necessary ingredients came together, you wound up with an unforgettable vintage that people would talk about forever, that could turn an ordinary wine into a remarkable gift of nature.
Just before Fairytale, Danielle Steel’s The Right Time was released—about Alexandra Window, who has a talent for writing crime novels. Because her single and sexist father tell her, “If you’re going to write mystery books, you’ll either have to write cozy mysteries, like a woman called Agatha Christie, or if you write crime stories like I and a lot of men read, you should probably do it under a man’s name,” that’s what she does. She writes bestselling crime fiction under the name of Alexander Green, and insists that her agent and publisher keep her real identity a secret. She has to go to great lengths to cover up for the lie; when one of the books is turned into a film, she has to pretend to the assistant of the eccentric, reclusive writer.
She gets used to the double life over her time of studying, working, travelling and meeting very unsuitable men. Again, Steel rushes through the story without much character development, and one never sees a sample of these wonderful chart-busting thriller Alexander/a writes, one simply has to take Steel’s word for it, that the books are suitably ‘manly’ to fool the most perceptive reader. But all this subterfuge for what purpose? Once she has proved herself there seems to be no reason for Alexander to remain ‘male’. Like all Steel books, this one too can be read in one sitting.
The Right Time
By Danielle Steel
Lawyer Sujay Kantawala, has written a novel, Love Knows No Boundaries, the synopsis of which states, “As the son of a State Governor in Chad, Sayed Shaquille Ahamat, has little to worry about. However, his family expects him to eventually take over his father’s business, marry a local girl and settle down, and there is a little reason for him not to fulfill their wishes. A polo accident that leaves him nearly paralyzed below the hip, turns his life topsy turvy. As he struggles to return to a semblance of normalcy, his efforts bring him into contact with an Ayurvedic centre in Sharjah. The head of the treatment centre is a beautiful ascetic, Ritambhara Devi, and Shaquille falls in love with her. To everyone’s surprise, she reciprocates his feelings. Meanwhile, Ritambhara’s position and responsibilities elevate constantly at the Swami Samarthanand Ashram where she has lived since childhood. She denies to give up her country, her religion and her Guruji in order to join Shaquille. Neither is Shaquille willing to forsake his way of life.” All proceeds of the book will go to charity.
Love Knows No Boundaries
By Sujay Kantawala;
Ian H. Magedera, senior lecturer of modern languages and cultures at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, writes about Indian Videshinis: European Women In India, According to the summary, “What happened to Sonia Gandhi as she moved from the Italian born wife of the non-political son closer and closer to the centre of power? Before she became Mother Teresa, how did an Eastern European-born outsider in the Loreto order criticize ‘memsahib’ nuns and claim that she would renew Christianity in India in 1947? These are just two of the ten stories captured in this book that illuminate the careers and Indian identity formation of European born women and their deep, and sometimes controversial, influence on education, religions, spirituality, commerce and politics in India. For their Indian supporters and opponents, these women were both Indian and videshinis (foreign women); they were also non-British and thus separate from the colonial power. They may have been the last outliers of the intercultural contact around the freedom struggle, but their integration by Indians now holds a lesson in inclusivity for the country.”
Indian Videshinis: European Women In India
By Ian H. Magedera;
Publisher: Roli Books
Child psychotherapist Nupur D. Paiva’s book Love & Rage : The Inner Worlds Of Children is, according to the summary,“a book about children, both the child in those of us who are chronologically adult, as well as the children we may be interacting with. It takes a reader for a journey into their inner world of intense, raging emotions which often goes unheeded by the outside adult world. With the trained ear of a child psychotherapist, the author listens to children’s stories as they emerge in her consulting room, through word and play, and translates them for adults. Supported by the author’s own personal associations and a bedrock of psychodynamic theory, the book throws light on what comes into a psychotherapist’s consulting room, and demonstrates that it is not unusual, bizarre or crazy. Instead, it is the ordinary stuff of everyday life, taking place in every family. That sometimes we all carry the pain of complex feelings within ourselves for all of our lives—love and rage towards the people we are closest to. This book is essential reading for anyone close to children—parents and parents-to-be, teachers, school counsellors—but also for anyone looking to attend to the child within them.”
Love & Rage: The Inner Worlds Of Children
By Nupur D. Paiva;