Sheltering Rain by Jojo Moyes
Having read Jojo Moyes’s The Last Letter From Your Lover and loved it, I picked up her Sheltering Rain with great expectations. Sadly, the book turned out to be extremely disappointing.
Sheltering Rain is the story of three generations of women from the Ballantyne family of Ireland – Joy, her estranged daughter Kate, and Joy’s grand daughter Sabine. It is about how the lives of these three women intersect with each other for a short while, due to certain unforseen circumstances. The plot did seem interesting when I picked up the book, and it did begin fabulously enough. However, the story fizzled out somewhere in the middle of the book. The book began to look increasingly pointless as I progressed with the reading, and the ending was a big-time let-down. This is a book you can safely skip. You will not be missing much.
I learnt that Sheltering Rain is the author’s first book, out in the year 2002, after which there have been many more. I have heard great things about the author’s other books, though, and can say from reading experience that she is capable of much better, judging by The Last Letter From Your Lover. I am definitely going to read other stories from her pen.
The Kitchen Congregation – A Memoir by Nora Seton
The Kitchen Congregation is Nora Seton’s tribute to that room called the kitchen, in her mother’s house and in her own, which has always played an important part in her life. For the author, the kitchen was a place where she had several meaningful conversations with her family, friends and acquaintances, the place where she retreats to when is tired of the chaos of everyday life. The kitchen is also a place where she feels the presence of her mother, a novelist too, who died of cancer in her fifties. The book is also the author’s way of grieving and getting over the loss of her mother.
I picked up this book because I was fascinated by the subject. It didn’t disappoint. The memoir is beautifully written, and the various characters that Nora Seton talks about come alive through her words. It is quite melancholy, though, I must tell you. I enjoyed reading this insightful book, which made me relive some fond memories from my own kitchen, too. Highly recommended, especially if you like memoirs and do not mind some melancholy.
I am not aware of any other books written by Nora Seton or her mother. If I could know of them, I would love to lay my hands on them.
The XMas Factor by Annie Sanders
The XMas Factor is a book jointly written by two authors – Annie Ashworth and Meg Sanders – who call themselves Annie Sanders. I purchased it because I needed something light, bubbly and happy, and a Christmas story seemed to be just right. It is typical chick-lit, but immensely likeable. I ended up devouring the book in a couple of days’ time, and loved it, too.
The XMas Factor is the story of two women, Beth and Carol, whose lives intersect with each other thanks to Christmas. Beth, newly married to Jacob, is haunted by the image of his first wife, Becca, who seems to be perfect in everything that she ever did. Beth is a busy career woman, and perfect she is not. She begins to have nightmares about Christmas when she is handed the responsibility of organising the Christmas party for the small town in which they reside, which used to be Becca’s kingdom earlier. To add to Beth’s woes, she also needs to host Christmas-day dinner for Jacob’s children, one of whom seems particularly interested in hating her, irrespective of what she does. Carol is a single mother, a busy magazine editor faced with the task of saving her failing women’s magazine, who wants to make Christmas perfect for her son, Tim.
There are a lot of unrealistic moments in the book, typical Bollywood-movie moments, but I ended up chuckling at them all the same. There are some very real-life moments, too, which I loved. Like I said, the characters are very likeable, and the story is a pleasant read. Tim, in particular, is extremely adorable. I liked the fact that the heroines, Beth and Carol, are not bimbettes with no brains, as is common in chick-lit. They are imperfect, they goof up, they know it and accept it, and want to do the best for their careers and their family in spite of it. Very real-life. I loved the way the author has portrayed the bittersweet moments in the life of a stepmother, too – something that I have never come across in other books.
There are a lot of spelling errors in the book, though, which I wish had been done away with during the proof-reading. However, thankfully, they do not take away from the experience of reading it.
I would recommend this book, for its feel-good-ness, for the sake of all the fun that Christmas brings, for the ultra-cuteness that is Tim, for the romance in the story.
What are you reading at the moment, people?