Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests








Monday, October 26, 2020

At the Side of the Road’ - a short story by Ethel Rohan. - from From issue #4: spring/summer 2017 Banshee Press


 



At the Side of the Road’ - a short story by  Ethel Rohan. - from From issue #4: spring/summer 2017 Banshee Press 


The Gateway to Ethel Rohan on The Reading Life 


Website of Ethel Rohan - includes a detailed list of her publications


You may read today’s story here


I first began following the work of Ethel Rohan March 13, 2012.  Since then I have posted eleven times on her works.  She also kindly contributed a guest post and participated in a Q and A session.  Obviously I hold her in great esteem.  You can see my feelings in this selection from an old post.



My thoughts on Ethel Rohan, from March 2014


“Last year I read a story, "Beast and the Bear" by Ethel Rohan, a totally new to me at the time  writer.    I read it during Emerging Irish Women Writers Week.   I never expected to read a story during this week that I would end up regarding as belonging with the greatest short stories of all time.  I read it four times in a row I was so amazed.   Since I read that story for the first time, I have read, I estimate, at least 1000 other short stories including most of the consensus best short stories in the world.  After reading "Beast and the Bear"  again yesterday and this morning I am completely convinced it should already be counted among the world's greatest short stories.  I was in fact so shocked by the power of this story that I wanted to be sure I was not overreacting.  I sent a fellow book blogger whose taste I know to be exquisite and educated through decades of reading short stories and she said only the very best short stories she had ever read, she is noted authority on Virginia Woolf, could compare to it.   I know this sounds hyperbolic but it is how I feel.  I do not lightly say a short story written by an author I had never heard of the day before I read it belongs with the work of the greatest of short story writers but that is my opinion.  In a way I felt a sense of satisfaction in that I am open enough in my perceptions and judgments to be able to make such an assertion.”


Since I wrote this Rohan has published three collections of short stories, a memoir about Dublin and a highly reviewed debut novel, The Weight of Him.


My purpose today is to let my readers know another Ethel Rohan short story maybe read online and to keep a record of my readings of her work.


In just a few sentences we learn a lot about the subject of the story:


“Cissie Murray sold Wexford potatoes and strawberries by the dual carriageway, under a grey-white awning she pretended was a fancy marquee. For every hundred cars that passed, maybe one stopped. Meanwhile, Cissie held hard to her phone—texting friends, playing games, and bopping to music with frantic rhythms. For this, Dan Topher paid her thirty euro a day. 

This Friday, Cissie had forgotten her phone at home. She felt clammy and irritated, her hands, her head, having little to do. For hours she hummed songs to herself, watched greenflies race over the strawberries, and haggled with a few customers, all wanting something for nothing.”


Of course a young woman standing beside the road all day has to be wary of attracting the attention of men wanting  something more than potatoes or strawberries.  It was fun to see her ward of one man with a golf club, we admire her fierce pluckiness.


We learn a bit about her family, her past relationships and go on what at first seems like it might be a movie day date which goes badly.


We see Cissie’s expectations are not very high.  Like many in the often set in Ireland short stories of Rohan, it deals with the life of a woman struggling to get along in a challenging environment.


I am greatly looking forward to reading Ethel Rohan’s fourth collection of Short Stories, In The Event of Contact, forthcoming in the spring of 2021.





“In the Event of Contact chronicles characters profoundly affected by physical connection, or its lack. Among them, a scrappy teen vies to be the next Sherlock Holmes; an immigrant daughter must defend her decision to remain childless; a guilt-ridden woman is haunted by the disappearance of her childhood friend; a cantankerous crossing guard celebrates getting run over by a truck; an embattled priest with dementia determines to perform a heroic, redemptive act, if he can only remember how; and an aspirational, angst-ridden mother captains the skies.


Amidst backgrounds of trespass and absence, the indelible characters of In the Event of Contact seek renewed belief in themselves, recovery, and humanity.”  From Goodreads.


Mel u



Saturday, October 24, 2020

Abhagi’s Heaven - A Short Story by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay translated by Sahitya Akademi - first published Bengali in 1926 - translated in 2020 and published on Borderless

 

Abhagi’s Heaven - A Short Story by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay translated by Aruna Chakravarti  first published in Bengali in 1926 - translated in 2020 and published on Borderless



https://borderlessjournal.com/2020/10/14/abhagis-heaven/. Link to The story.



Saratchandra Chattopadhyay





Born September 15, 1876 - Debanandapur, Bandal, India


January 16, 1938 - Kolkata, India 





I was initially made aware of this very valuable edition to pre-idependence Short Stories by  Mitali Chakravarty,  in a Facebook Post.


As story opens a funeral procession for the wife of a very rich Brahmin is proceeding with her body toward her funeral pyre.  Chattopadhyay opening description made me feel I was back in Kolkata in 1926, part of the crowd marveling at the sumptous procession.  I share a bit to give you  an oppurtunity to time travel.


“Old Mukhopadhyay moshai*, grown extremely wealthy from a flourishing business in rice and paddy, had four sons and three daughters — all with children of their own. Sons-in-law, grandchildren, neighbours and servants filled the rooms in a measure that befitted not a house of death but of jubilation. Men, women and children from the entire village crowded at the gates in the hope of catching a glimpse of the splendid funeral procession which would accompany the dead woman to her final resting place. Her weeping daughters lined her parting with sindoor and covered her feet with alta*. Her daughters-in-law dressed her in a resplendent new sari and adorned her brow with sandal paste.  Then, wiping the last traces of dust from her feet with their sari ends, touched them reverently to their foreheads. Flowers, garlands and basil leaves, clouds of fragrant incense smoke and the resounding clamour and bustle turned the day of mourning into a joyous replica of the one, fifty years ago, when the mistress of the great house had first set out on her ceremonial journey to her husband’s home.”


Kangali, a woman from the Duley Caste, an untouchable, is enraptured by the procession. Per my Research   the Duley Caste, part of the Badgi or Bagris group of castes, were traditionally tenders of cattle or fishermen, now numbering about 200,000 members. Kengali wishes she could join in and throw a burning twig on pyre but she knows she cannot. She has deeply internalized the consequences of being an untouchable, seeing herself as a being of no worth, deserving of nothing.  There is deep sadness in this:



“She had been on her way to the weekly haat* with a few aubergines she had picked from the bushes outside her hut when the marvellous spectacle caught her eyes, leaving her spellbound. She forgot the aubergines bundled in a corner of her sari. Forgotten, too, were her hopes of selling them and coming home with a few coins. Brushing away the tears from her streaming eyes she followed the crowd to the cremation ghat that stood on a bank of the Garud river. Standing on a mound, a little way off, she looked on with eager eyes at the huge wooden logs, stacks of sandal wood, ghee, honey, camphor and incense that lay beside the bier. She dared not go any closer. She was an untouchable, a Duley by caste, and even her shadow was shunned by the others.”


Her son sees Kangali is distracted and chides her to get back to work.


I shall leave the close of this story for you to discover.  I read it three times.


I hope i can read more of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s stories.



Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay or Sarat Chandra Chatterjee (15 September 1876 – 16 January 1938), was a Bengali novelist and short story writer of the early 20th century. Most of his works deal with the contemporary social practices that prevailed in Bengal. He often addressed social ills with his writing and in that sense was a reformer in his heart.



Aruna Chakravarti (India) has been the principal of a prestigious women’s college of Delhi University for ten years. She is also a well-known academic, creative writer and translator with fourteen published books on record. Her novels, The Inheritors, Jorasanko, Daughters of Jorasanko, have sold widely and received rave reviews. Suralakshmi Villa is her fifteenth book. She has also received awards such as the Vaitalik Award, Sahitya Akademi Award and Sarat Puraskar for her translations.

From The story link.  





I offer my thanks to  Mitali Chakravarty  for Publishing  this story


She is the founding editor of the Borderless Journal.


Mitali Chakravarty has been writing from the age of eight. She started her professional career as a journalist in The Times of India.  Her bylines have appeared in The Statesman, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Pioneer, The Daily Star and more journals. Her poetry and prose have been published online and as part of numerous hardcopy anthologies. Some of her poetry has been translated to Nepali and German. Mitali also translates from Bengali and Hindi to English. She has published a humorous book of essays on living in China where she spent eight years, In the Land of Dragons . From borderlessjournal.COM 



I took a long look at The Borderless Journal.   It already has lots of Short stories i hope to read and much more in just a few months of publication .


Here is their  Mission Statement


“Borders were drawn through history dividing mankind into smaller more manageable divisions that could be ruled and led. Borderless is a celebration of the human spirit that soars exploring and developing links beyond all the borders that exist in today’s world. 

It is a literary journal to connect all writers and readers beyond the bonds of money, nationality, rituals and cultures… to a world of ideals. We look for any positive input — humour, poetry, prose. There are no boundaries to human imagination and thought and that is what we are set to explore”




















Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle - 2016 - 154 pages


 


The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle - 2016 - 154 pages


Winner of the 2016 Shirley Jackson Prize


Runner up for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy and Bram Stoker Award 


Set in Harlem in the 1920s the 1920s (Harlem at that time was the section of New York City where most African Americans lived).  Prejudice against African Americans, then called “negroes”, was open, socially acceptable and pervasive among white New Yorkers.  The central character in the story is a Charles Thomas Tester, 21.  He and his father have an apartment in Harlem.  Charles supports his disabled father by playing his guitar and singing (both of which he stinks at) and whatever hustles he can come up with.


As the plot opens he has a very well paying job lined up, delivering a book of occult spells to an elderly white woman with a reputation as a sorceress.   He has to travel on the subway far from Harlem into all white areas.  He has learned to look down, carry a guitar so as not to scare white people.  The Ballad of Black Tom is very much in the tradition of the American horror master H. P. Lovecraft.  Lovecraft was a racist and xenophobic giving an extra irony to the mood of the book.


Charles meets a very rich strange elderly eccentric with whom he becomes heavily involved.  Reality changes before his eyes.  In a police killing right out of today’s news from America, the police enter his house, see his father with a guitar and open fire, assuming it is a machine gun.


Charles begins to gain occult powers, learning deep secrets.  There are lots of interesting things in the novel.  A picture of what it might have been like to be a young African American man in New York City in the 1920s, H. P. Lovecraft style, emerges.


The Ballad of Black Tom was a fun fast read I greatly enjoyed.


I added Lavalle’s other books to my Amazon wish list.  This book is on sale for $0.99 as a kindle.


See Victorlavalle.com for data on the author 






Monday, October 19, 2020

Riverrun by Danton Remoto - 2020


 


Riverrun by Danton Remoto - 2020


Elaine Chiew’s very interesting interview with Danton Remoto


#globalpridelitmonth: an interview with Danton Remoto


Website of Danton Remoto


I love this book.m  I give my great thanks to Elaine Chiew, I have featured her work numerous times, for turning me on to this novel. 


Riverrun is set in the era of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines (1965 to 1986).  Marcos was 

not driven by ideology  or ethnic  hatred but by a desire to enrich himself and his wife Imelda.  He would, however, use deadly force on anyone brave enough to speak out against him.  Remoto wonderfully shows how this climate of fear impacted  upbringing.  Children were taught to never talk about the government.  ( My wife lived through the era also and she and her siblings were trained not to ever mention anything about  Marcos.)


It is structured as a memoir about growing up in a very Conservative mostly Catholic country in a period when same sex relationships were very much frowned upon while slowly coming to the realization you are gay.  (Even now it takes a prescription to buy a condom.)


The story starts in the south on the

biggest island Luzon, near the Mayon Volcano.  The narrator’s family is relatively affluent, above the abject poverty of millions struggling just to feed their families.   There are several regional recipes scattered through the narrative, something most readers will enjoy even if they probably cannot get all the needed ingrediants. The depiction of the narrator’s early years was just marvelous.  We hear  stories from Filipino mythology told by his grandmother and his yaya.  We are there when he moves to Metro Manila, a tropical mega-City of over twenty million.  As you can imagine this was very much a shock and a sensory overload.  He enters a private military School where “new boys” are subject to  initiation rituals in which they are expected to preform homosexual actions on each other to gain acceptance.


Slowly he begins to discover feelings for other young men.  After his time in the military school ends he gets a grant to study in London.  I have spent a bit of time there and really enjoyed the account of the narrator’s time in London.  He ends up back in the Phillippines.


The rhetorical methodology of Riverrun is very creative.


Riverrun is a celebration of the people of the Phillippines, their ability to endure with a smile twenty typoons a year, dangerous volcanoes,corrupt governments and for better or worse the all powerful Catholic Church.


There are no explicit sex scenes in Riverrun.  In an interview  linked above Remoto says his publisher of the 2020 reissue asked him to add some vivid sex scenes but this would be out of character for narrator so he added two very mild interludes.


I give my unreseved endorsement to Riverrun.  I cannot 

imagine any literate and curious reader not loving it. 




Danton Remoto is a writer, educator, media personality, and the founder of Ladlad, the LGBTQ political party of the Philippines. His novel, Riverrun, about a gay young man’s coming of age in a military dictatorship, is one of the first gay novels — if not the first gay novel — published in the Philippines. Originally published in 2015, a newer global edition is now being printed by Penguin Random House SEA. There is more information on his website.



Mel u


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire by Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy - 2013 - 720 pages


 The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire by Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy - 2013 - 720 pages


An Autodidactic Corner Selection.


A few months ago, i began another permanent Reading Life Project,Revolutionary Readings devoted to works of non-fiction on the order shattering revolutions of the late 18th and early 19th century in South America, Haiti, France and the United States.  


There are hundreds, probably 1000s of books just on the American Revolution.  In school in the long ago pre-internet days I was taught the standard hagiographical account of the American Revolution.  In this  no mention was made of the British military and political leaders other than to denigrate them.  Of course no mention was ever made of slavery or the role of native Americans in the revolution.  No factual account of why slaves were to be counted as 3/5ths of a person was given or why the now ridiculous electoral College system was adapted.   Of course the teachers did not themselves have any real knowledge. 


One of, probably the best, sources of books on The American Revolution is The Journal of The American Revolutions list of 100 Best Books on The American Revolution and their annual book awards list.  About half of The books are availables as Kindle Editions, my preferred teading format.  I added these books to my Amazon Wish List and monitor them for flash sales, often at 80 percent discount.  I was glad to see The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire priced at $2.95, now back up to $10.95.



The book is structured as a series of ten interlocking biographies.  Starting with King George III the common view of him as laughably incompetent and later insane is corrected.  Before the onset of his dementia as depicted in the movie, The Madness of King George, he was very knowledgeable about public affairs.  King George was very much against American independence.


Among the other men featured are the Howe Brothers, Lord George Germain,Henry Clinton, General Burgoyne, George Rodney, Charles Earl of Cornwallis, and Jeremey Twitcher the Earl of Sandwich.  Top military positions were relegated to nobility.  Often second sons from noble families had positions  as officers purchased for them.  This was totally the case in the British Navy.  The leaders knew each other socially, often had kinship ties and even married each other’s sisters.


Enough space is devoted to each person to give us a real sense of them.  




Many in England, including some of the British leaders, felt the war could not be won.  The supply lines were way to long, England was also fighting against the French in the Caribbean and with other colonial powers in India. The English generals were used to wars fought on open battle fields, not wars of skirmish and in deep woods.  The British lost almost all loyalty in America by the brutal tactics they used in capturing towns.  Also they enlisted Indian tribes who sometimes scalped women and children to turn the scalps in for rewards.  The British did in some very bad decisions fail to follow up on early victories which might have ended the revolution.  They did not anticipate the massive help America would get from the French.  The French navy’s actions in the Caribbean and Indian Oceans nullified the naval advantage of the British.  The author lets us see how the American Revolution was really a world war fought in Europe, India, Gibraltar, Canada as well as in America.  


After the war, O'Shaughnessy follows the leaders up until their deaths.  The Generals remained active in the military, they were not shamed or condemned.  Some fought with distinction against Napoleon.


This book will fascinate anyone into the American Revolution.  All teachers of American history should read this book.  


Andrew O’Shaughnessy is Vice President of Monticello, the Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and Professor of History at the University of Virginia.  He is the author of An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000).  His most recent book The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013) received eight national awards including the New York Historical Society American History Book Prize, the George Washington Book Prize, and the Society of Military History Book Prize.  He is a co-editor of Old World, New World. America and Europe in the Age of Jefferson (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010) and a co-editor of the Jeffersonian America series published by the University of Virginia Press.  A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of American History.  From https://www.monticello.org/



His  An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean is on my Amazon Waiting List


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Galvanized Gloss - A Short Story by Kavita A. Jindal - 2020


 


Galvanized Gloss - A Short Story by Kavita A. Jindal - 2020


Today’s Story May be read here


Somehow I missed National Lipstick Day, celebrated on July 29th.  In my first venture into the multi-award winning work of Kavita Jindal I was delighted to read a story written for the occasion about how the right brand of lipstick can change your life.


As the story opens we learn a good bit about the past of the narrator.  She after ten years with various flat mats has decided to live alone.  We know she is single.  She is on a bus in London and she spots an advertisement telling her that lipstick can change her life.  We will soon learn this has a special significance for her.  Jindal’s very visual prose made me feel I was on the bus myself.


“The real bus you’re sitting in this afternoon wheezes on as you take in the cityscape from the top deck...It’s then the slogan catches your eye. THIS LIPSTICK WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.


Who allowed that? The Advertising Standards Authority let that pass? Can a lipstick change your life? Heck, can it change anything?? Can it change your summer a teeny-weeny bit??? You lean forward, press the button so the ‘Bus stopping’ sign lights up with a ting. You run into the department store and prowl the cosmetics counters until you find the brand emblazoned under the slogan. Brand L. The heat is making you crazy, 30 degrees in London, yes, it’s making you pathetic, and making the pavements sigh, but never mind. You stand by the counter and say to the girl with triple-mascaraed lashes: ‘I want to change my life.’

She’s ready to serve but slightly startled. ‘The new lipstick?’ she asks. She’s smart. She pulls out a tray of sample colours. ‘Which shade would you like to try?””


The woman seems very excited as she looks over the lipstick at the counter -we learn that two ago years ago she created names of lipstick brands.  The what seems much younger sales lady at first seems perplexed by how worked up the woman seems then goes into her pitch.


“Your finger hovers over a vivid pink. Let me guess, you think, Watermelon Squeeze? Candy Too Sweet? Profound Rose? You have form here, you know about these things.

‘This?’ The sales assistant doubtfully dabs the rosy stickiness on your lips. ‘Oh,’ her voice rises in surprise, ‘This bright colour does suit you.’ Who is she convincing?

‘I’ll take it. It will change my life. Lipstick can do that.’

She looks at you sharply; are you mocking the brand or cosmetics in general? You ask: ‘What’s the name of this colour?’

She hands you a shiny packaged tube. You peer at it. Judicious Use. You give up, your shoulders heave and rock.

‘Are you alright, darling?’ A light touch on your hand. She’s not sure if you’re crying or laughing. At this point you’re not sure either.

‘What kind of name is that?’ You give a little hiccup. ‘That’s a stupid name for a lipstick.’

She holds out her hand for the offending item.

‘Two years back I created names for lipsticks,’ you tell her as you return it. ‘It took hours, no, days, for one season’s line. For brand Y.’

‘That’s such a good brand,’ she responds.

‘Pink Bluff, Poppy Chase, Catalina Nudie, now those are names for lipsticks.  The brand founder loved the list I came up with”.


We follow the narrator a bit as she resumes her life. She seems a bit in need of something to give her life purpose.


This story was a lot of fun to read.  It takes us into the life of the narrator.  We don’t know a lot about her but she is very interesting.  There is also the contrast of her and The saleslady.  There is an age gap of at least twenty years which may bother The narrator a bit.






Kavita A. Jindal is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in anthologies and literary journals worldwide and been broadcast on BBC Radio and European radio stations. She is the author of the historical-fiction book Manual For A Decent Life, winner of the Brighthorse Prize. She has published two poetry collections to critical acclaim: Patina and Raincheck Renewed. She’s also the co-founder of ‘The Whole Kahani’ writers’ collective.


I plan to post on at least one work by Kavita A. Jindal for at least The next six months.


Her website has a more detailed bio, Links to stories and more.



I look Forward to eventually Reading her in full



Mel u











Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Of doctors and doctors - A short Story by Neera Kashyap - 2020

 



Of doctors and doctors - A short Story by Neera Kashyap 


Published 2020 in Setu - a Bilingual monthly journal published from Pittsburgh, USA :: पिट्सबर्गअमेरिका से प्रकाशित द्वैभाषिक  



You may read today’s story here 




This is the third short story by the multi-talented Neera Kashrap I have had the very real pleasure of experiencing.


Today we feature a story dealing with a vital social issue concerning health care in Rural India.


In May of this year I made my very fortunate first venture into the work of Neera Kashyap.


I loved her “Leave, Gentle Spirit”, a fascinating story narrated by an American ethnographer living in a small village in the Himalayas. Her mission there is to develop an in-depth understanding of the culture, folkways, religious beliefs and customs of women in the village, she learned to speak Hindi, widely spoken in the area.  As much as possible she lives like the women she is researching..


“Leave, Gentle Spirit" is a wonderful work, deeply informed and wise.  It deals with cultural divisions and gives us a look at life within the Himilayan region.



Next I read her “The Silent Tree” in which we are shown how the death of a husband and father impacts those who survive.


I really liked “Of doctors and doctors” for its vivid cinematic presentation of the work day of Doctor Kamala in his clinic somewhere in rural India.  Doctor Kamath was educated at a very fine medical school but gave up his big city practice to help the poorer people in rural India.  He is appalled to discover how local doctors snd hospitals take advantage of people to way over charge them for dubious treatments. 


Kashnap made me feel like I was in the examination room. The whole family often sit in on the examination.  


I want to share enough of the exquisite prose of Kashnap to let you  see why I am so taken by her work.


“I cannot prescribe medicines till I have the test results", said Kamath ringing the buzzer for Swarup who sailed in with another patient complete with family, the one huddled next to the window lunging towards his desk. For a moment, Kamath looked at them unseeingly. His own medical fraternity, he thought. He had seen patient prescriptions where steroid injections were administered first, ending in no conclusive diagnosis, but in a list of medicines. A poor farmer with uncomplicated hypertension was being sent to a city cardiologist for regular ECGs. A private hospital nearby used ultrasound as a money-spinner, charging desperately poor people Rs 1000 for each unneeded scan.


The patient before him was a girl in her teens. She lay immobile in her father’s arms, eyes shut. The mother hung to her husband’s side, eyes wide with alarm. She held up the girl’s salwar to reveal two brown punctures on her lower leg, red swellings all around. Kamath had seen non-venomous snake bites which had mainly involved keeping the patient calm as he administered first aid. He took a closer look.


There was a discharge from one of the holes. He felt a swelling in the lymph nodes behind the girl’s knees. His sharp volley of questions revealed that she had stepped on a snake in the paddy field and got bitten; it was a snake – she had seen it, the mother urged. This happened 18 hours ago. When her swelling and dizziness increased, they took her to their local doctor.


“What doctor?” asked Kamath.

“Family doctor. In the village. He gave two injections and some tablets.” The mother emptied a small brown envelope, large multi-colored pills rolling out onto her palm.


Kamath felt the venom rise in his throat. He lowered the girl’s legs and turned her to her left. He snapped at Swarup to bring him soap solution and bandages, washed the wound and covered it loosely with sterile gauze. He gave the girl a tetanus shot in the arm; she did not flinch”


I look forward to following the work of Neera Kashrap for a long time.


The inadequacy of rural health care in India is now a significant social issue.







Neera Kashyap has worked on health, social and environmental communications. As an author, she has published a book of stories for young adults titled, ‘Daring to dream’ (Rupa & Co.,2003) and contributed to five prize-winning anthologies published by Children’s Book Trust. As a literary writer of short fiction, poetry, essays, story/book reviews and creative non-fiction, her work has appeared in two poetry anthologies published in the U.K. (Clarendon Publishing House and The Poet) and in several South Asian journals


Mel u

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

A Wreath of Roses by Elizabeth Taylor - 1949 - with an introduction by Helen Dunmore- 2010

 A Wreath of Roses  by Elizabeth Taylor - 1949 - with an introduction by Helen Dunmore - 2010


July 3, 1912 Reading,  England


November 19, 1975 Penn, England 


Question.  In Mrs Pelfrey at the Claremont there is a character named Mrs Taylor, in A Wreath of Roses, a central character is Liz.  How do you see this use of parts of her name.?



This is the fourth novel by Elizabeth Taylor I have so far had the great pleasure of reading..   Previously I have read A View of the Harbour, At Mrs. Lippincote’s and my so far favorite Mrs Pelfrey at the Claremont.



I hope to read in the next few months these additional novels:



The Sleeping Beauty 1953

The Soul of Kindness 1964

Blaming 1976. Published posthumously


Longer term it is my wish to do a full read through, including her short stories.


“A Wreath of Roses has been called Elizabeth Taylor’s darkest novel, dealing as it does with murder, loneliness, terror and suicide. The aftertaste of the Second World War is still on everyone’s tongue. Young men who have been formed by the extremes of violence must find a way of adjusting to civilian life, and out of the chaos discover a coherent story to tell themselves about their futures.” Helen Dunmore 


A Wreath of Roses is set in an English Village in the heat of summer.  The war has been over a couple of years. The story opens at a railway station.  Camille Hill, an unmarried woman into her middle years has come to visit two old friends, Liz and Francis.  Liz is struggling with the obligations and expectations of being married to a clergyman and having an infant. Francis, her other friend, is a well regarded painter.  Of late her outlook on life has darkened reflected in her work.  Camille feels her life is dull.


Camille sees a to her handsome man at the station.  Then as they wait making a bit of small talk, a man falls to his death in front of the train.  In a writer as bookish as Taylor, I see this as an invocation of the opening of Anna Karenina.  We are privy to the thoughts of the man as well.  We learn he spent years in a German prisoner of war camp.  He is going to the same town as Camille.  Their developing relationship is the driving force in the plot.


Camille’s friends see evil in him.  We slowly learn of his past.  We see how his terrible war years have impacted him.


I found the close of this book very powerful.  Listening to the truly evil revelations of the man rendered in the exquisite prose of Taylor had a quite visceral impact on me. 


Taylor is a master of character development.





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