Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Spy

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Title: The Spy
Author: Paulo Coelho
Genre: Fiction, Drama, Biography
Pages: 208
Publisher: Penguin Random House India Private Limited
ISBN-13:  978-0670089536

Rating: 4/5

The Spy by Paulo Coelho is based on the personal life of Mata Hari, the famous exotic dancer. The book begins with the execution of Mata Hari by the French firing squad when she is found guilty of being a spy. The story then takes us back to when she was a married woman and how she begins her journey from being a penniless new comer in Paris to a rich and popular exotic dancer who seemed to have the most powerful people at her feet. Her dancing and beauty stood out from the rest because of her independent way of life. And how, during the first world war, she was found guilty of committing treason, albeit of no fault of hers, and was sentenced to be executed.

The book is a short read highlighting only the personal high and lows of Mata Hari. The narrative is divided into two, first from her point of view and the other, in the form of her lawyer's letter that he had written, having failed to rescue her from prison.

I thought the book began fantastically with the execution and it continued to hold my utmost attention until the part where the lawyer's letter began. The letter explained how sorry he was that he couldn't save the admired celebrity from execution but, in my opinion, it was rather stretched and unnecessary. The book ends with the letter thus, left me with a bad taste but otherwise, I would say, it is a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed the personal journey with Mata Hari and empathized with the challenges that she had to face back then as an independent woman. One must read the book solely for the purpose of the depth of the emotions displayed and the directness with which the author has bared Mata Hari's life. Truly, a misjudged personality, a sad loss among the many others in the past as a result of our parochial approach.

Here are some quotes from the book that I particularly enjoyed:

"Love, that inexplicable and dangerous thing, sweeps everything you are from the face of the earth and, in its place, leaves only what your beloved wants you to be."

"Sin was not created by God; it was created by us when we tried to transform what was inevitable into something subjective. We ceased to see the whole and came to see just one part; and that part is loaded with guilt, rules, good versus evil, and each side thinking it's right."

"Love is an act of faith and its face should be covered in mystery. Every moment should be lived with feeling and emotion because if we try to decipher it and understand it, the magic disappears."

Monday, December 5, 2016

Top 5 books by Jeffrey Archer

With the Clifton Chronicles done, I decided it was time I did a top 5 post by one of my favorite authors, you guessed it, Jeffrey Archer. I must add, I haven't read all of his books but with whatever little knowledge I possess, I wish to reveal my top 5 reads and hope that this helps you, whether you are new to the author or are looking to read one of his books. Please note, I haven't included any of his short stories and plays here. They can make a different post, what say?

So, let's begin!

P.S - Click on the images to buy from

1. Kane and Abel

My first pick has to be Kane and Abel. Although it is the first book in a series, it has to be Archer's finest work. The story includes everything from drama, romance, politics and rivalry and is sure to leave a lasting impression on the reader. A must read.

2. False Impression

False Impression brings a smile to my face whenever I think of it. What an amazing story line and the climax, absolutely unpredictable. A delightful read, especially for art lovers.

3. Paths of Glory

I read this book on a whim. I had no idea of who George Mallory was or what he had accomplished. This book sheds light on one of the most intriguing and debatable subject there is. An extremely powerful and heart warming read. Click here to read my review of this book.

4. Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less

This book will always have a special place in my heart as it is the first Jeffrey Archer book that I ever read. Incidentally, it was the first book by the author too. The book has a great story and a mind blowing ending.

5. A Prisoner of Birth

One of my favorite classics is The Count of Monte Cristo. I love the idea of avenging oneself and the way it was penned down by Dumas was exceptional. A Prisoner of Birth is inspired from the same classic but with a modern twist. Needless to say, I enjoyed every bit of the book and always recommend it.

So these were my top 5 reads of Jeffrey Archer. I might do an updated version of the post once I have read all his works. But for now, hope this helps.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

This Was A Man - The Clifton Chronicles #7

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Title: This Was A Man
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Genre: Fiction, Drama
Pages: 400
Publisher: Pan Macmillan UK
ISBN-13:  978-1447252252

Rating: 4.4/5

The intense Clifton chronicle continues and ends(sadly) with the last book of the series, This Was a Man. The book takes the saga forward with heart touching moments scattered across the pages of this epic series, one like no other.

Emma rises high in her carer as she is appointed the Minister of Health by Margaret Thatcher's government. But this is not the end of the line for her. Meanwhile, Harry decides to begin his final William Warwick novel which he wants to accomplish as per his late mother's wishes. Giles finds out about Karin's secret and on the other hand, Lady Virginia refuses to get out of their lives. Little Freddie is a young boy now who idolizes Giles, primarily for his flair in cricket. Seb is busy tackling Desmond Mellor and Jim Knowles as they resurface again. Jessica wins her place at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Arts but unfortunately falls into bad company and risks her career being compromised. The story reveals certain secrets of the past and slows down towards the end, where Emma and Harry become great grandparents and are now at the dusk of their lives.

The book focuses on the careers and happenings of the Cliftons and Barringtons, of course, but it is noticeable that the author has slowed the pace down, understandably so. There aren't many twists and turns as the previous installments or shocking revelations as such. But that actually fell in perfectly with the story line, meaning the thrilling moments weren't missed. There is enough happening, leaving no scope for boredom. There are more addition of characters to the Clifton and Barrington families and it is more about the relationships between them this time. 

It goes without saying that the writing and narration are truly powerful. Being the last book of the series, the author clearly wished for a smooth ending and that is exactly what we have here. A quiet but fulfilling finale. Towards the end are some touching moments as the author pulls the curtain down on his grand creation with the retreating of characters. 

A fitting end to an extraordinary series from the master storyteller. Delighted to have traveled with the Cliftons and Barringtons on such an exciting journey.

I highly recommend the entire series for any book lover. Trust me, it is worth it.

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