Category Archives: Books

An equal music

I have just started reading An Equal Music, by Vikram Seth. I am greatly enjoying it so far. As soon as he started, in
Hyde Park, my mind settled right into it. I love that setting, reminding me of the first time I lived in
London for an extended period, in Shepherd’s Bush, on the Central Line. I walked through
Hyde Park, looked in the Serpentine (that apparently has a swimming club!), visited people in flats like the ones he describes. It is so wonderful to open my book here in Darwin, and move briefly to
London.
I care immediately about these characters – I’m not sure why, as I am not very musical myself. But Michael’s dedication – not quite complete – to his talent, from his
Northern England background is attractive. His comments and descriptions of the others around him is creating a range of characters who already stand alone as people I want to know more about, both as themselves, and as how they will interact with Michael.
It is good to have found another book I want to fall into. 

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The Jane Austen Book Club

“Sylvia thought how all parents wanted an impossible life for their children – happy beginning, happy middle, happy ending. No plot of any kind. What uninteresting people would result if parents got their way.” (p178)“ ‘I guess I think we all deserve more than we earn,’ said Sylvia, ‘if that makes any sense. I’d like the world to be forgiving.’” (p237) 

Two quotes that I enjoyed from this book. But overall, I found it a little disappointing. I liked the characters, but I’d like to have had all of them explored in more detail. I didn’t find myself caring enough about any of them, although I found all of them interesting in as much as I knew about them. I think this book would make a better movie than novel, because good actors would add the richness that isn’t quite there in the text, in my opinion. Not as comfortable as Mc Call Smith’s
Edinburgh that I visited last week.
 

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Does my head look big in this?

I’ve read about 2/3 of Does my head look big in this? It is about being a young Australian Muslim female who wants to be all three of those components of her identity and be accepted as equally able to be all of them at once. The range of characters and responses to Amal’s decision to wear a scarf through Year 11 is interesting, and seems realistic to me. Amal’s parents support her decision, but only when they feel that Amal has made the decision herself. However, she has some family who are opposed to her decision, and who believe in assimilation to the extent of going overboard in being as ‘ocker’ as possible, much to the embarrassment of their children. Amal also has a very intelligent friend who also chooses to wear the hajib, but whose mother is very traditional and opposes her daughter’s desire for a career over an early marriage. However, this mother’s family, back in
Turkey, have moved on and are encouraging their daughters to study. Another, Anglo friend has a much more liberal mother – who gives her daughter a hard time for being slightly plump. In another Muslim family, the mother is an English convert.
It sounds a little like there is just a range of perspectives and no story – but the story is focused on Amal’s year, and her relationships with her friends and classmates. And a boy, Adam. That part I’m finding a little difficult at the moment – Amal seems to be playing at the idea of falling for him, but at the same time, holding herself back too much. I guess that’s just a personal thing – my own emotional experience has always been much more uncontrolled than that. Perhaps if I’d always had a ‘bigger’ cause I’d have had a different attitude always. Amal’s year is the year after Sept 11, and I’ve just got up to the
Bali bombing, which has added a new dimension.

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