Saturday, February 25, 2023

Late Afternoon. Walking.


Late afternoon. Walking. The wind has a bit of a bite to it. It's pleasant. I alternate between looking at the footpath below and the sky above. I don't want to trip on any uneven spots, but I would rather keep my eyes on the sky. Eventually, I stop by a field and just watch the show. The clouds with their subtle colours change shape and drift, altering the light as they play hide and seek with the sun and the random patches of blue. The fog hangs low over the hills. The beautiful lines of the bare tree branches seem to be different from one minute to the next as the background shifts and moves. I watch, mesmerized, and think of Thich Nhat Hanh saying, 'A cloud never dies.' We walk on, stopping once or twice to admire the views. There is no rush.

Home. Making a cup of tea, I see the clouds and the sky again. Spooning up the tea leaves, I see the sun and rain that helped the plants to grow. Pouring the water, I see the clouds in a different form. Sipping my tea, I feel the sky--the peace and joy it gave to me one late afternoon, walking.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Sinister Spring

Sinister Spring: Murder and Mystery from the Queen of Crime by Agatha Christie
Published by Harper Collins UK
ISBN 9780008470906

This is a delightful collection of Agatha Christie short stories that have some connection to the spring season. The book contains a good mix of stories featuring her recurring characters--Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Tommy and Tuppence, Mr. Parker Pyne, Mr. Satterthwaite, and Harley Quin. If you're new to Agatha Christie, this would be an excellent introduction to her work. If you've been reading Christie for years, like I have (about half a century now!), it's like a lovely visit with old friends and a couple of surprises thrown in. This collection is the latest in the seasonal series, all of which are wonderful and well worth reading. Every time I sit down with a Christie I know I am going to have a happy reading experience and this book was no exception. It did not disappoint and I highly recommend it.

Stories included:
The Market Basing Mystery
The Case of the Missing Lady
The Herb of Death
How Does Your Garden Grow?
Swan Song
Miss Marple Tells a Story
Have You Got Everything You Want?
The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan
Ingots of Gold
The Soul of the Croupier
The Girl in the Train
Greenshaw’s Folly

I received a copy of the e-book in exchange for a fair review. I thank NetGalley and Harper Collins UK.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Homelands: The History of a Friendship by Chitra Ramaswamy (5-Star Read)

 Homelands: The History of a Friendship by Chitra Ramaswamy
Published by Canongate
ISBN 9781838852696

In 1939, 15-year-old Heinz Martin Wuga, later known as Henry, arrives in the UK from Nuremburg as part of the Kindertransport program. After some exceedingly traumatic experiences, he settles in Scotland, where he meets his future wife, Ingrid, who is also a Kindertransportee.

A few decades later, an Indian couple immigrates from Bangalore to the UK, where they start a family. One of their daughters is the author of this book. She grows up and becomes a journalist. In 2011, she is assigned an interview with Henry and Ingrid. There is an instant rapport between them and a friendship quickly blossoms. With her assignment over and the close friendship deepening (they come to see one another as adopted grandparents/grandchild), she continues to talk to them about their life stories and starts to see similar themes emerging between their experiences, those of her parents and her own. Eventually, she realizes that this book is taking shape. And a fine book it is.

This seems like an ambitious book—as the subtitle says, it is the history of a friendship. It’s more than that, though. It’s also family histories, political history, life story, memoir, and a history of relationships—both that between the author and the Wugas, but also the relationship the author has with literature, in particular the novel Austerlitz by William Sebald, which runs through the book. Ramaswamy deftly weaves together multiple strands of thought to create an engrossing narrative. There is a lot here and in the hands of a less skillful writer, things could get clunky and confusing very quickly, but they don’t. The writing itself is beautiful, as is the story of this friendship. I was absorbed in both the stories and the writing from the start and this continued straight through to the end. I highly recommend this book—definitely 5+ stars.

I received a copy of the e-book from NetGalley and Canongate Books in exchange for a review. I thank them and the author.