Friday, 26 February 2010

Blood from Stone by Frances Fyfield

Rick Boyd is a sadistic, over-confident con man who preys on anyone he can to satisfy his own perverse pleasure in demeaning, abusing and finally destroying other people. Marianne Shearer is the barrister who takes on his defence when he is accused of kidnap and torture. He couldn’t have had a better defender, because although she is sworn to uphold the law, Shearer has carved out her career by twisting the law, testimony, appearances in any way she can to get her clients off, guilty or no. She systematically tears apart the prosecution witnesses and makes them look like the perpetrator rather than the victim. In Rick Boyd’s case, she succeeds to the point where two victims withdraw their testimony and the third commits suicide, effectively rendering the case impotent and earning her Boyd’s acquittal. Once again she is successful in a case she should never have been able to win, so why does Shearer commit suicide a short time later? Is it because Boyd admits to her after the trial that he’s not only guilty of the charges, but much more as well? Has Shearer, after all these years, finally made contact with her conscience? Or is there something else lurking in the background?

Since it’s a given that Boyd is guilty, the plot focuses mainly on why such a successful barrister would suddenly up and commit suicide without warning. What were her motives? Why would she suddenly take such a drastic measure? Those who are searching for the answers quickly realize that they are up against the clock as Boyd himself enters the race so that he can destroy anything that might answer these questions.

Personally, I’ve always found Law to be an either overly dry subject, or one riddled with such unfairness and so many loopholes that it leaves me despairing of justice ever being done, ergo, it’s not one of my favourite subjects. After having read this book which includes snippets from witness cross-examination in Boyd’s trial, I find myself hoping that this really is fiction and never reality. Had Francis Fyfield never been a lawyer, I would have written it off as untrue, instigated a little willing suspension of disbelief and gotten on with enjoying the book. However, knowing that she was a barrister makes me wonder if it isn’t all just too possible. The bullying and the browbeating of the witnesses was appalling, but even more so was the failure of the judge to intervene where the defence was clearly overstepping bounds all bounds of legal necessity. It is to be hoped that no lawyer can be allowed stoop to the third grade tactic of calling witnesses names in the stand. It was vicious and had I personally been in the jury, I think I would have discounted anything further testimony from the cross examination simply because of the method and the obvious attempt to obscure rather than find the truth.

Perhaps this is why I felt the book was good, but not great. It was a good read, but it just felt as if there was something missing. Perhaps it was the legal angle that bothered me, or perhaps it was just that there were too many angles to the story. It sometimes felt like she started to introduce a character, then got a bit sidetracked and took the story somewhere else where this character couldn’t follow. It came together well in the end, but still left me feeling that something that should have been there just wasn’t. I’m giving this one a 3 out of 5 because of that. Don’t let that put you off of Fyfield though, I know I’ll try other books of hers because I think she could be a great writer, this was probably just not her best novel.

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Imagine finding a box in the back of a closet in an old house and opening it to find it contains a woman’s diaries. These diaries lack any direct references to dates or places and a vague in the extreme. They focus on the direct thoughts of the writer in the assumption that the reader is privy to the same information as the writer was. Only as they go on to they begin to give hints about life and how it came to be the way it was for the writer and how it was before, still never giving away the full and clear picture. This is The Handmaid’s Tale in a nutshell. It’s a very interesting and effective strategy on Margaret Atwood’s part to suck the reader into the tale. You have to read more because you want to finally figure out what’s going on and how humanity reached that point.

The Handmaid lives in the Republic of Gilead; a state which is intimated to have sprung up after a revolution in which the entire US Government was assassinated and the constitution suspended. What follows is basically a totalitarian state run by a religious sect which seeks to recreate life in the old testament, using the Bible as justification for the repression of women, non-Christian religions and homosexuals. Women are classified into one of several groups including Unwomen, Jezebels and Handmaids. The handmaids are women of child bearing age who have been retrained after having been unchaste in one of many different ways, including divorce and remarriage. They are then “given” to deserving males, or Commanders, of the new regime who are married to women unable to have children. These Handmaids are then inseminated in a bizarre ceremony and any children resulting from the coupling are then given to the commanders and their wives.

I know this is supposed to be a feminist novel, and indeed it is. How could it not be really? I can’t help but think though that the main catalyst for the novel really isn’t the feminine state, or feminist apathy, but the overthrow of the government. That overthrow is what caused the situation to deteriorate so rapidly, and not only on the part of women, but on the part of other religions, races, homosexual men and women and anyone else the regime cared to declare deviant for their own purposes. It’s the lack of democratic structure which is the base of the evil and not just the attitude of men towards women. Had the government continued as it had up until its overthrow, then none of these groups would have been persecuted. As it is, you could actually use the situation to create more tales of the same kind just by changing the perspective from the Handmaid’s to the Jew’s or the homosexual’s or the Unwomen’s etc. In that sense, it really does mirror Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. Just suffice it to say that it’s an excellent book which is not only a good read, but guaranteed to get you thinking on many different levels. A definite 5 out of 5.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Pompeii by Robert Harris

Marcus Attilius Primus becomes the new Aquarius of the Aqua Augusta after the previous Aquarius, Exomnius, disappears without a trace. Unbeknowst to him, he has arrived in the Bay of Naples just 2 days before Mount Vesuvius is due to erupt in 79 AD. He is charged with repairing the Aqueduct, which has failed at the hottest time of the year, leaving the inhabitants parched and in desperate need of water. With this intent, he heads off to Pompeii and Vesuvius to find and fix the source of the problem. What awaits him in Pompeii, however, is corruption and negligence, exacerbated by the fact that the water is still flowing in Pompeii, where they are more interested in their own comfort and indulgences than in the good of the region. The story follows his struggle to repair the aqueduct and to figure out what is causing the strange events happening all around the city.

Of course the reader knows what’s going to happen, or at least that the mountain will blow, but despite the lack of suspense in the larger sense, Harris tells a really good tale. His depiction of Roman life with all its excesses and cruelties is vivid and engrossing, even if you’re not a history buff. The thought he put into the novel is evident in small events in the story prior to the explosion, such as the fish dying in the farms on the coast, tremors etc. Then, these things were considered ill omens, which they are really, but today we would have recognized them for what they were, impending doom for the region. Harris must have done extensive research into vulcanology in order to write this book so detailed and so well. What I especially appreciated were the short excepts from scientific journals before each of the chapters. They not only served to reinforce the telling of the story, but were interesting too.

It’s funny that when I think of the story line, it’s really rather a simple one, but it’s so chock full of detail that it seems more complicated that it really is. I think that that’s what makes this a great book for me, it’s detailed to the minute, but never, ever boring. Harris really knows how to grab your interest even without a soap opera or Hollywood thriller schema. 5 out of 5 with a recommendation for everyone, history buff or not.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

A Place of Execution by Val McDermid

Ravelry has often been called an evil time suck (in a good way), and it is. It’s also evil in many other ways as well. The Audiobook Knitters group often comes up with new things for me to read. Recently I took a look at the Mystery thread and latched on to Val McDermid’s name. This turned out to be a good thing because now I have another whole series of books to read.

I started with A Place of Execution, the story of the missing Alison Carter who disappears one afternoon while walking her dog near her home. When blood and hairs are found in a copse near where her dog was found tied up, it seems as if they’re dealing with murder and not just a runaway or kidnapping. The young Inspector George Bennett is charged with finding Alison, dead or alive, and finding the person or persons responsible for any harm she may have come to. Unbeknownst to him at the time, this case would not only change, but it would shape the rest of his life as his drive and determination refuse to allow him to rest until the case is solved.

Although I found that the story occasionally noticeably slowed, which coincided with times when the investigation flagged as well, A Place of Execution is well written, with good characters and a brilliant sense of reality. McDermid paints a good picture with his words, especially of the inhabitants of Scardale. She does an excellent job at making them come to life both through description and actions. The reader gets a good sense of what it must be like to be miles into the back of beyond with the lonely countryside and its reticent inhabitants, also of how frustrating the whole investigation must have been for Bennett. She also leaves the mystery wide open, so although you see where it could go, you can never be quite sure.

The ending left me floored and certainly in no doubt of what my opinion was – rather ambiguous statement, but if you read the book, you’ll understand. I can recommend it to mystery lovers at any rate. A 5 out of 5 for this one. Brilliant mystery.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

After having heard nothing but, and a whole lot of, rave reviews for this book, I figured it deserved a chance, even though I probably would have passed on it after reading the blurb. A story about children killing each other to win a game? It sounded way too brutal and gory for me, but my Raverly group, Audiobook knitters, were all swearing it was brilliant, so I took the plunge. I was glad I did.

The Hunger Games is the first of a trilogy depicting a very changed North America which is now called Panem and consists of The Capitol and 12 districts. There was at one time a 13th district, but it was annihilated by The Capital after a rebellion as a lesson to all the other districts. The Capital also inflicted another punishment on the remaining districts, meant as a permanent reminder of their failure to win the revolt, The Hunger Games. Every year, each district must choose one boy and one girl to attend The Hunger Games where they will be dropped into an arena and forced to kill each other until there is only one left alive. Everyone must watch The Games. Everyone must be reminded of the hold The Capital has over the district and their inhabitants. Everyone must see how brutal The Capital can be, the message being that if you subjugate yourself, you will be spared, but those who try and revolt or go against The Capital in any way, will die a horrible death.

As I said, I expected quite a lot of brutality, but Collins handled it very, very well. Her characters were rebellious enough to not be wishy-washy, but she avoided giving them false bravado or too many super human traits, so they remained real. As a result, the plot remained plausible. She also brought just the right balance of survival and justice into the arena, avoiding mass slaughter just for the sake of blood and gore. I guess that’s what made this book so good; Collins balanced it all really well. It was a bit of a tight rope act because going one way or the other in many cases would have sent the book plummeting over the edge, losing either its plausibility or its suitability for the intended age group. She manages to balance justice, reality and reason in just the right proportions to make this book an excellent read for anyone over the age of 12.

The added bonus is that it’s just the kind of book you need to get kids interested in thinking, whether it be about government, fairness, reality, oppression or starvation. There are so many directions you could take a discussion on this book, it’s almost impossible to think of them all.

This one gets a 5 out of 5 from me on all fronts and I will definitely be reading the sequels.

Monday, 15 February 2010

The Purple Emperor by Herbie Brennan

After Henry helps Pyrgus and Holly Blue thwart the night faeries plan to overtake the Fairy Realm, he returns home to keep things on Earth afloat until it’s time for him to attend the coronation of Pyrgus as The Purple Emperor. Unfortunately, the night faeries are again planning a coup, only this time by more devious methods than the last. Lord Hairstreak has reanimated the corpse of Apatura Iris, Pyrgus’ and Holly’s father, and are using his body as a puppet to banish the two from the Faerie Realm, instead putting their half brother, Comma, on the throne, with Hairstreak as his guardian.

This is the second book in The Faerie Wars Chronicles, and is one I bought in one of the Audible sales. I had tried to read it before, but found you really needed to read The Faerie Wars first in order to get the most of the book. The Faerie wars was good, but not great and frankly if I hadn’t already owned The Purple Emperor, I wouldn’t have bought it. As it was, I had it and thought I might as well listen to it, but I wasn’t really expecting much from this book, especially as sequels often get worse and not better. That is, however, not at all the case with this book. The Purple Emperor was much better then The Faerie Wars. The story was better, the characters had more definition and the plot was a lot less predictable. I do believe I will actually be purchasing the third and fourth books now that I’ve read this one.

It’s a children’s/young teens book, and as such, I give The Purple Emperor 4 out of 5 with a good recommendation for kids in that age group.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Portobello Road by Ruth Rendell

When I bought Portobello Road, I was hoping for a good, cosy book to read at the weekend. I had seen it a few times, but passed it by because of the reviews. This time, I figured it couldn’t be that bad, it was Rendell after all. Unfortunately, this was another of those that’s just not my type of book. It’s similar to The Water’s Lovely in that the reader is given insight into the lives and thoughts of 4 people, all of whom are or will be connected to each other in odd ways.

Eugene and Ella are a couple whose relationship is heading towards marriage. They’re happy together and lead good lives. Eugene, however, is prone to addiction and in an effort to lose weight, starts eating sugar free sweets and can’t stop. It becomes his substitute addiction and even though it’s harmless enough, it threatens his sense of well-being. Lance is a young “job seeker” who has a slight history of domestic violence and comes from a family of thieves. He’s still in love with his girlfriend who has kicked him out and living with his uncle, a reformed burglar now heavily into religion. In contrast to Eugene and Ella, Lance is not happy. Their paths cross for the first time when Eugene finds an envelope with money and advertises that the owner may collect it from him on proof that the money really is theirs. Lance sees this as an opportunity to possibly cash in on a little extra money and tries his luck with Eugene.

I hate to say it, but I found this book, rather one specific part of the story, tedious. Eugene’s “addiction” is annoying to say the least and I was continually amazed at Rendell’s ability to continue writing about it. I swear if I hear anyone mention the word choc-orange again, I may scream. As an introduction into the thought processes of an addict, it may well be spot on and as a study possibly interesting; however, in the context of a novel it becomes mind-numbing to say the least. Half of the time spent on that subject alone would have been enough. I suppose that Rendell did get her point across though. If I found it enough to destroy it a good read, someone like Eugene would find the habit debilitating. Still, I could have lived without it. Aside from that, the story was fairly good and, as always with Rendell, well written. Still, the whole choc-orange addiction killed it for me, so it only rates a 2 out of 5.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The Water’s Lovely by Ruth Rendell

One day 13 year old Heather walks down the stairs of her house clothes dripping wet and a dead step-father in the bath. No one ever asks Heather what happened, her sister, Ismay, and her mother, Beatrix, just tell the police he must have drowned while they were out because he was too weak from flu to save himself and there was no one to help him. Their story isn’t questioned and life goes on. Unfortunately for the whole family, this event casts a shadow on the rest of their lives, for Ismay and her mother believe that Heather must have drown her step-father to halt his untoward advances to Ismay. Ismay believes that her sister Heather loves her so much that she would do anything to protect her. This colours the family’s attitude towards Heather. Beatrix loses her mind and must be cared for by her sister Pamela and Heather is, despite being well loved, always handled carefully as if she is a bomb about to go off.

The story picks up at a point where all four women are living in the house together, but in two separate flats. Enter Andrew, Ismay’s over-bearing, self-centred, demanding boyfriend who refers to Heather as a gorgon and Beatrix as a crazy. Ismay, however, is so in love with him that she would do anything to keep him. So when Andrew takes a dislike to Heather’s new boyfriend, Edmund, life becomes difficult for Ismay who is torn between her love for and fear of Heather and her adoration of Andrew. There’s also the problem of Edmund and the question as to whether or not he should be told the tale of their step-father and if so, which version, the official, or the hidden version. Ismay begins to realize that they’ve past the point where their little family unit could close ranks and hold life together. The past is refusing to stay buried and the time is coming when she must confront the truth.

Although the story centres on Heather’s past and the question of did she, didn’t she, there is a lot more to it than that. Rendell also brings in Edmund’s mother and her friend Marion. The one is an overbearing hypochondriac and the other is nothing short of criminal in her bid to find easy money by making a living off of others. The third-person omniscient narration gives the reader the feeling that he is privy to a microscopic inspection of one family and all the people associated with them. It almost feels voyeuristic. It’s also a little like surfing the internet when you keep finding interesting links to go to, but still return to the main focal point every so often, which prevents you from losing cohesion between the parts. The difference being that you’re surfing through people’s lives and not just through information links.

The story is well written and I’ll add that the narrator, Rosalyn Landor, was brilliant. If this is your sort of book, then you’ll love it. Personally, this isn’t the kind of thing I normally go in for and although I thought well of it, I won’t be looking for more of the same just because it isn’t my thing. Since it is what it is though, I give it a 4 out of 5. After all, you can’t penalize a well written book just because you don’t care for the genre.

Friday, 5 February 2010

A Matter of Justice by Charles Todd

Inspector Rutledge is summoned in the night to attend to a murder scene in rural Somerset. He arrives and is taken to a barn where he finds that the victim obviously posed by his killer after death. Rutledge immediately realizes this killing must be personal because no spur of the moment criminal would take the time or trouble to place his victim as he did. This knowledge unfortunately does little to help Rutledge since to know the victim was to despise him. Now Rutledge has to figure out who would hate this man enough to kill him.

I couldn’t tell you why, but I had a hard time getting into this book. It’s possible that I was just distracted with other matters, but I think it might have been that Todd starts off with events long past which reveal some of the solution to the reader which Rutledge isn’t privy to. That seemed a bit unfair to me and somehow took a bit of the fun out. One way or the other, it took me a while to really focus on the story. Once I got there though, it turned into quite a good tale with a rather interesting solution. It’s certainly not one I foresaw, even having been given inside information from the outset.

Although I wasn’t overwhelmed by the book and this has done nothing to change my opinion that Todd is a good, but not great writer, it’s still a good, cosy murder mystery. One of those you can curl up to on a cold Sunday without overtaxing your brain. I’ll read more of Todd, but he doesn’t quite make it to my favourites list. Rating: 4 out of 5 for being a relaxing read.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A Crowning Mercy by Bernard Cornwell

Dorcas Slythe is a beautiful girl who has been treated miserably by her puritan family all her life. She knows no joy, no fun, no happiness. Her father believes he must beat the sin out of her and her brother, jealous of her wholeness, is a vindictive little swine who’s happy to see her suffer. She has nowhere and no one to run to, so running is out of the question. Then, one day, as a forced marriage looms ahead, she discovers there is a covenant and a seal, which rightfully belong to her. They both bring power and wealth, but all is not well for Dorcas as there are many out there who seek to claim both the money and the power for themselves. In order to reach her goal and be free, these men will have to be defeated, which seems like an impossible dream for Dorcas.

I bought this book a while ago after having read another blogger’s review (sorry, I’ve forgotten whose it was). I had it for a good bit before starting it and couldn’t remember exactly what it was about when I did finally get to it and was surprised to find myself listening to a book about puritans. It’s a subject I would normally run miles to avoid. I couldn’t believe I’d purchased such a book, but the reader had a pleasant voice and I figured I’d paid for it, I might as well give it a chance.

It didn’t take too long for me to get sucked in. The prose is excellent, the characters believable, the story intriguing. For a long while, I was riveted. Why don’t I sound more enthusiastic you ask? Well, the book started off really well, unfortunately, two things happened, the first was that there was just too much drama for my taste. I think I went off cliff-hangers completely after having watched the first season of 24 with double episodes. I just got tired of all the OMG, more mortal danger!!! of the thing. I’ve found I’ve taken the same attitude towards books now. I find the whole, mortal danger-happiness-mortal danger pendulum tedious and usually just wind up feeling like I want to scream at the author to get on with it already and knock off the whole drama queen thing. The second thing was that I could see where the plot was going. OK, not the precise how, when, why and with whoms, but the rough outline was there in my head and it was pretty accurate. I guessed too much of what was going to happen before it did and couldn’t just sit back and enjoy the book as I would have liked to do.

I should add that Dorcas really made me want to constantly slap her for her helplessness, even though her character was probably more accurate than the strong heroine I would have preferred. I think that I personally would have dealt with the mortal danger pendulum better had she not been so wishy-washy, but then accuracy would have suffered.

Again, this leaves me with a dilemma: how to rate the book. Like I said, it was extremely well written - it reminded my quite a lot of Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth, even though the age and story where completely different – and it really is a good book; my dislikes base more on my personal preferences than on the quality of the book. So, looking at what the book is supposed to be, I’ll give it a 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Marley and Me by John Grogan

Just in case there’s someone out there who doesn’t know what this book is about, it’s about John Grogan and the World’s Worst Dog. Marley is an overgrown lap dog who knows nothing but happiness and possibly a little angst at thunderstorms, but who doesn’t realize that the whole world does not share his happiness with life or his exuberance, or his fear of thunder. Marley goes through life learning little and destroying lots, which delivers a good, quick read, but makes me glad he wasn’t mine.

The movie, in case you have seen it, has absolutely nothing to do with the book and if I were Grogan, I’d be a bit miffed at their portrayal of him and his wife. He’s probably miffed all the way to the bank, but that’s beside the point. The book is much, much better than the movie.

It took me two tries to get through this. I had a hard time reading the beginning of the story because I could see all the mistakes Grogan was making, which seemed fairly elemental to me. I’m also not fond of people locking their dogs in other rooms at night since a dog is a pack animal and to force a dog to be on his own without the pack is one of the worst things you can do to a dog. I had a hard time with that bit. Once I finally got over it (and Grogan did too), it was a pleasant, amusing read. It only took me a few hours to get through the whole book. The last 50 pages or so called for a lot of Kleenex because you knew what was coming long before it got there and having just gone through the same a few months ago, I found it terribly sad.

Even though a lot of people argue, probably quite rightly, that Grogan was himself to blame for many of the problems, I have to hand it to the man, and his family, for sticking to Marley. Most people would have dumped a dog like Marley in the pound after the first few months, but Grogan kept at it, and although he was never the perfect dog, Marley did get better. What didn’t improve became tolerated and the family kept the dog, and for this alone, Grogan deserves a round of applause. There are so many people out there who don’t know anything about dogs, but go out and get one anyway, spend the first few months effectively ruining the dog by thinking oh we can’t possibly scold this cute little puppy and then dump it on the pound or someone else when the problems start. The “let someone else fix my mistakes” attitude with animals bugs me to death.

I also have to admit having owned a dog who did similar, but on a much smaller scale, things myself. He was that way when I got him at a year and a half and I was never able to cure him of it. No matter how much exercise he got, he still ate jackets, candles, yarn, cleaning fluid and once a bottle of calcium tablets he must have fought to get to (apparently he just chewed and didn’t swallow because he suffered no ill effects) when I was at work. Even once or twice when he somehow forgot I was at home, and after I’d taken him for a 2 hour walk, I caught him sidling up to a candle with that come hither look. He knew he shouldn’t do it, he hid before I ever opened the door because he knew he was going to be in trouble, but he couldn’t stop himself. I loved that dog, but I could have killed him 20 times over. Just when I was about to clear a room of everything but his bed so he couldn’t possibly get at anything while I was at work, he got bone cancer and the end came quickly. So in a way, I can truly sympathize with Grogan, even though a lot of it was probably down to him. Prevention is always better than the cure.

For sheer entertainment and perseverance on the part of the Grogans, I rate this one 5 out of

Monday, 1 February 2010

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

I’ve been a bit remiss on reviewing my books this past week or so. I just couldn’t get into the mindset for reviews. The reason why came to me this weekend: I’ve hit on a patch of decidedly Meh books. How are you supposed to get excited about writing a review when the books you’ve been reading really aren’t that good?

OK, good is a relative term in the book world. My gem is someone else’s reading nightmare and vice versa. Good is in the ear of the reader really, so I’ll just say that they weren’t much to my taste.

The first review I need to write in for Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, which is apparently one of Kipling’s finest books. The story is that of a young English boy whose parents die while in India, leaving him alone in the world. Having spent all of his young life in India, Kim decides he prefers the ways of the natives to the ways of the sahib (white men) and runs away from the orphanage to the streets of Lahore where he lives very happily by begging and running errands. He is a smart boy and loves secrets, which he later turns to profit in rather clever means which keep him from being branded a snitch. His potential is recognized my one of his employers but he is still too young to be of real use.

One day, Kim meets a Tibeten Lama who is searching for a river which will wash away his sin. Kim joins him in his search and becomes his chela (disciple). The two wander down the grand trunk road where they meet many people and Kim is able to help some of his old friends out by passing along messages. Kim, too, is on a pilgrimage, although he does not know it yet. It has been prophesied that he will meet a red bull on a green field which will take him to his destiny. What Kim finds out is that his destiny takes him closer to the sahibs than he really wants to go.

The story itself is a good one and I’m fairly surprised Disney hasn’t adapted it yet, because that could be done – OK, a substantial loss of the story would be the result, but when doesn’t Disney cause a substantial loss of story? Anyhoo, once I finally figured out what was going on, the story was good. My main qualm with the book lay in the language. I’m sure it’s a masterpiece of Anglo/Indian literature and a good record that particular culture, but if you haven’t grown up with that influence, the pigeon English is a bugger to understand. I had to read and re-read passages several time to understand how we got from point A to point B. It also occasionally required stretching your imagination to understand what they meant with the words used in the novel, i.e. the words themselves made no sense unless you looked at them in context and used your imagination. It’s like referring to a three legged man (get your minds out of the gutter!) and meaning a man with a cane, only for someone who grew up with no knowledge of that culture, it could be pretty difficult to draw those conclusions.

In the end I’m unsure how I should rate this book. It’s not one I’ll read again, although if I did I’m sure it would be easier to get through. Tough to read, but a good story. I guess if you’re partial to India and Anglo-Indian culture, than you would like this book. If not, I’d say give it a miss. There are better reads out there