it’s that time again folks. Your chance to find out what we are reading this month. Have you read any of these books? What are you currently reading? Let us know below.
Wildflower: The Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Murder of Joan Root by Mark Seal follows the life story of the naturalist, filmmaker and lifelong conservationist Joan Root, one half of sixties filmmaking duo Alan and Joan Root, who brought natural Africa to millions of people around the globe.
This is the story of both her marriage to the man who was her one true love, the breakdown of it, and how she rediscovered herself whilst fighting to maintain the natural beauty of her home: Africa.
Ultimately it is a sad story: Joan Root was gunned down at her house on the shores of Lake Naivasha on 13th January 2006, just five days short of her 70th birthday. But that doesn’t stop her story being an interesting, vibrant and inspirational one. From feeding wild hippos to chasing ‘deadly’ gorillas, she was fearless, calm, capable, indispensible and strong: a true heroine.
This book is published by Phoenix in the UK and you can get it from Foyles marketplace for £5.56.
Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie is set in the imaginary small town in the region of Kashmir this novel shows you the life of Shalimar, a villager who performs a tightrope act for amusement. A life once full of affection, love and laughter is turned on its head when Maximilian Ophuls comes to his village and steals the heart of Shalimar’s wife. Scandal and a pregnancy ensues and Shalimar turns to a life of revenge which sees him train with various Jihadi organisations and become a renowned assassin.
I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that Shalimar is successful in his attempt on Maximilian’s life; the book start here and follows with a series of flash backs depicting how Shalimar became this person and why he choose to murder Maximilian.
Whether you read the book as a critique of how the politics of the sub-continent affected Kashmir or not it is impossible not to find the beauty and depth in this book. For me Rushdie’s best work.
This book is published by Vintage in the UK ans is available from Waterstones for £7.19.
Stuck on a doctor’s surgery with a dead Kindle and a banned phone, I grabbed the only book on the pile of 10-year-old magazines – in fairness the book was 10 years old too (published by Headline Review), but at least it was something I’d wanted to read at the time it was first published, A Singular Hostage by Thalassa Ali.
And once I’d started, I couldn’t bear to leave India in 1838, and the spirited Mariana Givens, sent out by her parents to find a suitable husband and instead finds herself caught up with members of the enigmatic ‘Brotherhood’. She’s acting as translator and companion to Miss Emily and Miss Fanny, the sisters of Lord Auckland, the British Governor-General, as his ten-thousand-strong party journeys across India to meet the fabled Ranjit Singh, Maharajah of the Punjab. Thalassa Ali’s wonderful descriptions of India made me quite understand why Mariana found herself more entranced with the country than with the eager young officers competing for her favor: the baggage elephants of the durbar; the scents and tastes of the unknown foods; the exotic natives themselves . . .
Lord Auckland is there to forge an alliance with Ranjit Singh which is supposed to deliver Afghanistan into British control, but the wily one-eyed Maharajah has other ideas, one of which includes seeing Mariana locked up in the Jasmine Tower with his other wives and his Pearl of Pearls: the child Saboor, taken from his family as a hostage and reputed to have mystical powers.
Before she quite knows what’s happened, Mariana is drawn into a perilous conspiracy involving the child Saboor, her munshi, the odd little man who teaches her languages, Dittoo, her native servant, and some powerful Muslim mystics with powers that have come straight from a fairy tale.
And damn it. Now I need to find the rest of the trilogy . . .