Sunday, 16 September 2012

Eden Hall - Veronica Helley

Having finished this book in two sittings,  the book really merits this review. Now in the 5th month of pregnancy, sleeping at night is becoming a bit of a luxury. But that is not the only reason.  This book is also responsible for some of the lost sleep.

At the outset, Eden Hall by Veronica Heley is just what it says on the cover. A Cinderalla like story of a timid girl, separated from her parents, is called to her rich father's estate only to realise that she is unwelcome and is pitted against a stepmother and her children. However,  Araminta "Minty", with the "goodness in her heart and character" manages to strike a chord with the village folk and ultimately with their help, wins back her inheritance. The story is not all that great but the simple premise jells with with a  contempory English village setting.  This and good handling of the coming-of-age transformation of Minty together with the little twists and turns in the plot make it an enjoyable read.

The story has the breezy feel of a mills and boon romance between Minty and Patrick, the lawyer who is also her knight in shining armour, always handy to rescue her from sticky situations but lacks the gall to disclose his feelings for her.

Nonetheless, there are some criticisms. The religious affiliations of Minty, where she constantly seeks divine intervention to help her decide and guide her, does put one off a bit. Without sounding offensive against religious sentimentality, this tendencey to invoke god for every trivial inconvenience, the justification being Minty's upbringing in a vicarage, closeted from the street smart ways of the world does jar a bit.

However to the book's credit, the story pans out very well. It has an easy flowing narrative and the together with well described scenes of the English village life, spiced up with interesting incidents it culminates into a smooth, happy-ever-after ending.

All in all an enjoyable read when you want some welcome escapist distraction from the humdrum of daily life.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

In presence of the enemy - Elizabeth George
I discovered Elizabeth George sometime back and have been hooked onto her ever since. Although I admit, not all of her books have held the same level of enjoyment, this one had me totally engrossed and hence the review.

Set against the backdrop of UK politics, a tabloid newspaper editor and a Tory minister are forced to recall their long forgotten encounter which resulted in an illegitimate child, now being raised by the Tory minister. The editor gets an anonymous note forcing him to acknowledge the love child, a 10 year girl, on the front page of his bestselling newspaper. Suspecting the editor's involvement to dig some dirt on her, Tory minister refuses to comply fearing threat to her position, which ultimately results in the abduction of the girl.

The kidnap note sets some events in motion leading to disastrous consequences and another abduction of a child, and this brings in the detective duo Lynley and his partner Havers to the scene.

For the uninitiated, Lynley and Havers are the duo who solve the whodunnit and with each novel, Elizabeth George illuminates upon their private lives endearing them to the reader.
The premise is brilliant an d the story unfolds beautifully with some well etched characters and an arresting plot to boot. George is a consummate writer and writes with such distinction, unique to her that the reader is totally sucked into the contemporary setting of the story, providing a delightful concoction of political implications, tensions of a newsroom, the race to nab the kidnapper topped with the tight tension of a who-dunnit.

George has often been criticised for trying hard to be "British" in her work even when she does not live in the UK. However, this book does not for one moment make one feel that it could happen anywhere but Britain, considering the politics which shows George's research to a good advantage.

The best part of it was that as I was racing towards the climax, DH was busy watching a thriller on the laptop.  A classic way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, as we rushed through our lunch on a lazy Sunday, to get back to our respective thrillers, letting our daughter sleep well beyond her permitted nap time just to get to the end.