The Abyssinian Proof – Jenny White
The Ottoman Empire is plagued by thefts of antiquities from mosques and churches that, within days, appear for sale in Europe. Among them is a reliquary, presumed lost for four hundred years and around which an elaborate and mysterious sect has grown.
In Istanbul, magistrate Kamil Pasha is under pressure to break the smuggling ring amid rising tensions between Christians and Muslims. He confronts a mysterious adversary who will stop at nothing to get the reliquary first. With the Balkans aflame and Kamil’s personal life in upheaval, the search into the old neighbourhoods where Istanbul’s crime rings reside may cost Kamil not only his position but also his life.
Miss Chopsticks – Xinran, translated by Esther Tyldesley
The Li sisters don’t have much education, but one thing has been drummed into them: their mother is a failure because she hasn’t managed to produce a son, and they themselves only merit a number as a name. Women, their father tells them, are like chopsticks: utilitarian and easily broken. Men, on the other hand, are the strong rafters that hold up the roof of a house.
Yet when circumstances lead the sisters to seek work in distant Nanjing, the shocking new urban environment opens their eyes. While Three contributes to the success of a small restaurant, Five and Six learn new talents at a health spa and a bookshop/tearoom. And when the money they earn starts arriving back at the village, their father is forced to recognise that daughters are not so dispensable after all.
The Secrets of Jin-shei – Alma Alexander
A sweeping epic set in medieval China; it is the story of a group of women, the Jin-Shei sisterhood, who form a uniquely powerful circle that transcends class and social custom.
They are bound together by a declaration of loyalty that transcends all other vows, even those with the gods, by their own secret language, passed from mother to daughter, by the knowledge that some of them will have to pay the ultimate sacrifice to enable others to fulfil their destiny.
The sisterhood we meet run from the Emperor’s sister to the street-beggar, from the trainee warrior in the Emperor’s Guard to the apprentice healer, from the artist to the traveller-girl, herself an illegitimate daughter of an emperor and seen as a threat to the throne. And as one of them becomes Dragon Empress, her determination to hold power against the sages of the temple, against the marauding forces from other kingdoms, drags the sisterhood into a dangerous world of court intrigue, plot and counterplot, and brings them into conflict with each other from which only the one who remains true to all the vows she made at the very beginning to the dying Princess Empress can rescue them.
I love this quote – it’s everything why you should read!
I know! The lands I have visited and the places I have seen ….all through the eyes of an author….
Yup! Literally everywhere!
How can cleaning, actually make that any other activity compare with reading?
Before all the smart devices came into the picture, guess which smart device helped us become more creative and well, smart?
The Story Hour – Thrity Umrigar
An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she meets a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, Lakshmi is desperately lonely and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store.
Moved by her plight, Maggie treats Lakshmi in her home office for free, quickly realising that the despondent woman doesn’t need a shrink; she needs a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient have become close friends.
But while their relationship is deeply affectionate, it is also warped by conflicting expectations. When Maggie and Lakshmi open up and share long-buried secrets, the revelations will jeopardise their close bond, shake their faith in each other, and force them to confront painful choices.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity – Katherine Boo
Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting“ in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter — Annawadi’s “most-everything girl” — will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.”
But then Abdul the garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. As the tenderest individual hopes intersect with the greatest global truths, the true contours of a competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the imaginations and courage of the people of Annawadi.
Fasting, Feasting – Anita Desai
A wonderful novel in two parts, moving from the heart of a close-knit Indian household, with its restrictions and prejuices, its noisy warmth and sensual appreciation of food, to the cool centre of an American family, with its freedom and strangely self-denying attitudes to eating. In both it is ultimately the women who suffer, whether, paradoxically, from a surfeit of feasting and family life in India, or from self-denial and starvation in the US. or both.
Uma, the plain, older daughter still lives at home, frustrated in her attempts to escape and make a life for herself. Her Indian family is difficult, demanding but mostly, good hearted. Despite her disappointments, Uma comes through as the survivor, avoiding an unfulfilling marriage, like her sister’s or a suicidal one, like that arranged for her pretty cousin.
And in America, where young Arun goes as a student, men in the suburbs char hunks of bleeding meat while the women don’t appear to cook or eat at all – seems bewildering and terrifying to the young Indian adolescent far from home.