Finally, The Wonderful October!

In the words, of L.M. Montgomery, via Anne of Green Gables “I‘m so glad I live in a world where there are October“. I cannot think of a more perfect way to show gratitude for the month of October…fall is here and winter is on its way. It means relief for the searing heat of Indian Summer, wood fire smokes, festivals and celebration and finally a year end, where for the mad year of 2017, I can slow down a bit and take a breathe to read and write! Needless to say, I am overjoyed that October is HERE!

From a bookish perspective, I am hoping to finally get going and pick the pace up! As I write this, I am conscious of the fact that every time I have made a statement like that this year, it has turned into an unmitigated disaster! So I am keeping all my toes and fingers crossed for this month and hoping things will go as planned! To begin with, I am coming at a near close of The Pickwick Paper by Charles Dickens Read Along, organized by O. It was the longest read along ever and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this book on this revisit! I will also finish the much delayed The Raj at War by Yasmin Khan and I really have to stop procrastinating and finish Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol. In terms of new books to read, a whim took over me couple of weeks back and I started re-read the Anne of Green Gables series by the brilliant L.M. Montgomery. I am currently on Book 3 – Anne of the Island and I hope to finish the series between October and November. I am also re-reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I have no reason to re-read this novel that I have read 1236 times, except you never need a reason to re-read an Austen! Speaking of re-reads, I was looking over O’s blog and I saw she was planning to re-read The Brother Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky again; I loved the book when I read it more than a year back with Cleo and Ruth’s more recent review was making me itch to back and read it again. Therefore I re-read The Brother Karamazov again, only this time, I take my time to ponder over many instances of brilliance of Dostoevsky, something I did not do fully, the last time in my haste to reach the end! I do not see myself getting around to it till end of the month and will probably take the whole of winter to finish it!

To end, in other reading adventures, the October round of Dewey’s 24hrsReadathon is coming up – 21st October is the date. I have been having so much fun since I joined up last October, that there is no way I am passing this one up! I have yet to decide what books I will read for the event, but I am sure, I will have PLENTY to choose from! I know for a fact that The Rector by Margaret Oliphant, recommended by Jane and pending from September will for sure be on the Reading Plan, but I have yet to decide on others! This is the 10th anniversary of the event, and the hosts are running a 30 days short challenge to celebrate the occasion and you can find the details here. Finally, there are also hosting the short run up weekend challenges to the main event – this weekend (Oct 6-7), they are asking you to read a book that has been on your TBR for more than a year – considering I have endless number of books in that category, it took me some time to narrow it down and finally I decided to ease into it with a fun mystery – The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers. I loved her when I read Busman’s Honeymoon and I am hoping to enjoy this to a T! Also for the October event, in a departure from my usual Reader only participation, I have offered my self as a host for a couple of hours, so that I can help the hosts in a small way as a show of thanks for the awesome event they have been hosting for years now!

That’s that for the month folks! Happy October and lets be thankful that we live in a world with October 😉

The Joy of “Living”…

I first heard of “The Blue Castle” by L.M. Montgomery from Jane. The fact that Ms. Montgomery has written anything outside of the “Anne of Green Gables” series was in itself a revelation, but the fact that she wrote adult novels was a whopper! Any girl who ever read Ann of Green Gables in her pre-teen years must become a lifelong devotee of Ms. Montgomery (some even later- my flat mate for instance read “Ann of Green Gables” just recently in her mid -30s and now she is convert! Imagine Ms. Montgomery’s effect then on adolescent youth!! ) and when you are a devotee, you stick by your Icon in all their shapes and forms. Naturally, to not read “The Blue Castle” was out of question and I finally wound down to do all kind of indulgent reading over this holiday and this book was lying among the top, HAS TO BE READ label!

The book is set in early 20th century and located in the fictional town of Deerwood, in Ontario. The novel opens with Valancy Sterling, our protagonist, waking up on a cold May morning, shedding copious tears, on her 29th birthday, reviewing all the have-not-dones in her life. She has lived her entire life among the large and formidable Sterling Clan, who have set narrow standards of how life ought to be led and by those standards, Valancy is a failure. She is 29 and has never been sought by any young man and is going to spend her whole life living as an old maid, living with her mother and cousin. She is neither good-looking, nor rich and therefore no man has even been interested in her and is completely dominated by her mother and constantly compared to her more beautiful and more socially acceptable cousin Olive. On top of all this, she is nicknames Doss and no one seems to be interested in addressing her as Valancy. Things however take a turn when, constantly bothered by a chest pain, Valancy consults a doctor, who tells her unequivocally that her heart is in a dangerous state and she has only one year to live. Finally realizing that the sands of time are slipping by, Valancy decides to shed her old life and live for this one year on her own terms. This includes moving out of her mother’s house, getting a job working for a town outcaste and falling in love with the town’s reprobate and living a thousand life times in a year. However, the fateful year is up and it’s time for Valancy to face the truth…

It is a lovely, slow-moving funny and soothing book. The characters are well defined and everyone’s role is cut out. Valancy Sterling is a very much a flesh and blood creature, inhibited by circumstances and when those circumstances become difficult, she discovers an inner courage and resilience that makes her a wonderful heroine. Barny Snaith completely answers to one’s idea of a hero –the reprobate with a heart of gold. The Sterling clan is exactly what it should be – horrid to live with, but absolutely laugh out loud funny when one reads of them.There are many hugely humorous moments and a strong sense of everyday fun, which keeps you smiling through the very end of the book. There are not too many wisdom nuggets or profound life truths in the book; but I think Ms. Montgomery was exactly doing that – writing a simple book, that highlighted the simple and therefore often overlooked pleasures of life. The plot is linear and everything kind of rushes in together headlong in the end, but it does not really effect the book. It’s got a lovely, absolutely marvelous Mill’s and Boon touch to the story, without being ekky, clichéd, kitschy and tactless, something most of today’s romances are. It is indeed a lovely love story of not only a man and woman, but also about loving life and loving nature. There are gorgeous descriptions of Muskoka region of Canada and the wilderness is described in all its splendor and beauty through the four seasons. There is some lovely lyrical portrayal of Southern Canada that makes you want to take the first flight to visit the place.

It’s a book you take out with you when you have the whole day stretching ahead with no plans you can sit soaking the winter sun, and multi task at reading this book in a unhurried manner and watch the squirrels play. Trust me this book is best read in natural surrounding!