The books I wanted were not available at the Central Lending Library, so I sniffed out the new books section, and was duly rewarded with the following:
“An Inventory of Heaven” was a wonderful read from the start. Set in rural England, one of my favourite backdrops for fiction, a gripping tale was woven between flashbacks.
It made time on the MRT whizz by (and we know how much we need that these days) and I heartily recommend it to anyone in search of good fiction.
It was interesting to find this write-up by the author, on how this book came about.
The title doesn’t have much bearing on the contents which is a yarn told by unmarried typist Mavis, who holds awful secrets close, mainly because they wound her so. Poignant stories are slowly unravelled, and eventually, everything makes sense.
The only thing more important than a good plot is probably good writing. And the quality of description is stellar here, and seems effortlessly so too. Really enjoyed this book.
The “Roundabout Man” is a book premised on the idea that “if you writes for children, it is highly likely that you’d damage your own”. The fictional family created could not be further from the cold, indifferent mother the famous author was in real life.
Was she so because she couldn’t? Or because she wouldn’t? The answer emerges, floating to the surface, long after the writer’s death, even as her children continue to suffer the effects of being immortalised in her books.
The prose in this book is slightly more prosaic, possibly in the tone of the children’s literature that the story revolves around. Still, the ‘reality’ that is revealed is often harsh – heartbreaking, even. But sad stories make for particularly good literature, don’t they? Hmm, I wonder why.
I realised that both books were written from the perspective of a sixty-something year old, which lends a richness that first-hand storytelling by a younger protagonist wouldn’t. There is something about the exterior of decrepitude that masks fluid, rapid thoughts. It makes me more aware of the fact that, the next time I look at an elderly person, I should not assume that his/her thoughts are moving as slowly as his/her limbs. He/She might be thinking satirical thoughts about me; just that the wisdom and civility of age hems these thoughts from being uttered.
I’m not sure whether I decided to borrow these books because they were about children, or it just happened that there were a number of books on the new arrivals shelf that were about children. Subconsciously or otherwise, I found myself being able to relate keenly to these works of fiction. They were even helpful as reminders on what to be, and what not to be, as a parent. I hugged my kids closer, after reading so much about children who crave parental warmth so.