Books that I read lately…

The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

I had heard that The Pilot’s Wife is Anita Shreve’s best work till date, and so, I grabbed the book when I noticed it on sale at an unbelievable price at Daryagunj. I began reading it almost immediately. Sadly, the book did not live up to my expectations.

The Pilot’s Wife is the story of Kathryn,who lives in the small New England mill town of Ely. She has been the wife of Jack Lyons, a pilot with Vision Airlines for quite some time now. Though she has got well used to the risks of being a pilot’s wife, the news of Jack’s plane crashing into the sea one night and his immediate death comes as a huge shock to Kathryn. It renders Kathryn’s daugher, Mattie, very disturbed as well. It is, hence, quite natural that Kathryn wants to keep Mattie away from all the stories about Jack floating around in the media. She is, however, unable to keep herself away from the media frenzy, to remain unaffected by it. Jack’s death suddenly brings Kathryn in the limelight, and she becomes a popular face overnight. Jack’s death also raises some questions, which Kathryn does not really have the answers to.

The book has been written very well, I would say. I loved the author’s style of fleshing out the characters, of drawing out incidents, eliciting emotions. The story started off quite promisingly, but tended to get disappointing over the course of the book. It began to seem rather pointless after a while. The end, too, seemed rather abrupt, low-key, and cliched. Disappointing.

The Pilot’s Wife definitely has its moments, but it didn’t turn out to be the great read it had set out to be. At least not for me.

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20 Fragments Of A Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo

Fenfang is a young woman living in modern-day Beijing, waiting for that lucky break which will change her life forever and bring to her the ‘shiny things’ she has always aspired for. She is tired of doing meaningless roles, of being ‘the woman in the background’, a film extra in Beijing. She is tired of the battles that she has to face every day, but has not lost heart entirely. She has always worked on improving herself, constantly trying to seek out opportunities to further her career and get noticed. 20 Fragments Of A Ravenous Youth is Fenfang’s story, told, as the name suggests, through 20 fragments or short pieces, each depicting a small part of her life.

The book is not a literary masterpiece or anything. The fragments are just that – fragments – without a proper beginning and end. In spite of this, I enjoyed the experience of reading this book. I found it an easy read, inspiring in the way that the stories of common people battling their everyday circumstances always are.

20 Fragments Of A Ravenous Youth is a translation from the original Chinese work, but a well-done translation at that. It does not have those awkward phrases that are so common in a translation.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. Especially if stories of ordinary people inspire you, you like reading about cultures other than your own, and do not mind reading a book without a proper ‘plot’ as such.

I am now looking forward to read Xiaolu Guo’s A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers.

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Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts on them?

What are you reading at the moment?

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18 thoughts on “Books that I read lately…

  1. I did not enjoy The Pilot’s Wife either. You had asked me if I had read Shreve, and I never had. The very next time I went to the libray, I came across this one, and grabbed it. Was disappointed too šŸ˜¦

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    1. @Smitha

      The Pilot’s Wife started off so promisingly, but turned out to be so disappointing. šŸ˜¦

      I started reading another one of her books, called Sea Glass, because I was fascinated by the concept. I couldn’t even finish the book. I should do that, some time.

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  2. TGND, I was about to say that about the ending but refrained from it last time I commented coz’ I was so scared that I’d spoil it for you. I agree it is indeed well-written and I liked it for all the reasons you mentioned.
    The end is where I was disappointed too šŸ˜¦

    I would enjoy 20 fragments of a ravenous youth šŸ™‚

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  3. I saw Eat Pray Love in the Kithabi Sadak..A poor battered copy ..The experience there itself requires a separate post..Will be updating soon :)Thank you for that nice write up!

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  4. Right now reading Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran (Read the Madam Tussands as you suggested and liked it) this one was available in the library so reading that šŸ™‚ Seems interesting till now

    Plan to start Committed soon for the IMC book club..have you read that one? Its from the author of Eat Love Pray…

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