Book Review: East of the Sun

400000000000000163460_s4East of the Sun

by Julia Gregson

East of the Sun, by Julia Gregson is the story of three young women, Viva, Tor and Rose, who are all traveling to India in the late ‘20s together, albeit for different reasons.  Rose has met the dashing Jack Chandler, who is stationed in India , and although they have only seen one another four or five times, they are engaged to be married.  Tor is Rose’s best friend and traveling to India as Rose’s bridesmaid.  Tor is under tremendous pressure to meet a man and become engaged, a feat that she hopes to accomplish while in India .  Meanwhile, Viva has been hired to chaperone the two girls, while at the same time she is in charge of a young juvenile delinquent, Guy Glover, who has been released from boarding school for stealing from his peers.

East of the Sun follows not only the voyage to India , but the first year and a half after the three women have arrived there.  Their friendships stay intact, although all three of them head off in separate directions; each woman tells a unique story of her time in India .

Gregson did a wonderful job with character development.  None of the characters seemed contrived and I felt like I really knew Tor, Viva and Rose.  By the end, there had been times were I laughed with them, berated them or empathized with them.  I do wish that Gregson had not focused so much on Viva though—Viva’s story may have been the most unpredictable and the most exciting, but towards the end I felt that Tor and Rose were sort of lost in the shuffle and I was yearning to hear more from the both of them.  Viva also became a little too repetitive for me towards the end as well—at least when it came to Frank.  Her struggle with him, and herself, was mentioned over and over and yet, for the longest time, no progress was being made on that front.  In fact, I found the situation between Frank and Viva to be somewhat of a cliché and I could have done without that element all together.

Regardless of my complaints though, I really loved this book.  The issues I had were very trivial when compared with the larger picture and they did not color my perception of the 391book in a negative light.  I have recently read Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh, which is also historical fiction dealing with India, so the language and scenery parallels were fun for me to observe.

There are some great discussion questions in the back of the book that came in handy at the end when I was trying to digest what I had just read.  One of the questions was about Guy Glover and whether or not I sympathized with him in a way, such as Viva had.  The answer, in short, is NO.  I find myself empathizing with all kinds of cruel and distasteful characters, at least in part, but Guy was not one of them.  Yes, he was young and had not had the benefit of being attended to by two loving parents, but was instead shipped off to boarding school.  His loneliness was palpable and his possible mental illness was believable, but he still angered me to the point where I just didn’t care.  I think part of the problem was he was never put in his place.  Viva experienced the ramifications of his behavior time and time again and yet, she never seemed to call him out on it.  As angry as she was, every time she would see him it seemed as if all of the anger had dissolved.  So I think I would have been more sympathetic towards Guy had he been held accountable for his actions, which doesn’t seem fair because he has no control over the way that others respond to him.  Quite a conundrum.

I’ve seen quite a few reviews on this book around the blogging world and, not surprisingly, they were all good.  If you’d like to read some other reviews, here is what I found using Fyrefly’s book bloggers search engine.

Book Reviews by Bobbie

S Krishna’s Books

Books and Cooks

A Writer’s Pen

Reading Adventures

There are a few more, but I don’t want my post to be overrun with links.  However, if I’ve left your review out and you would like to have it included, just send me an e-mail and I’d be happy to add it to the list.

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I’m a Day Late: Fall into Reading Challenge

FIR09MediumI’ve joined this challenge with the hopes of reading some of the books I’ve been slacking off on.  It is hosted by Callapidder Days and there is still plenty of time to sign up if you’re so inclined.  The challenge runs from September 22, 2009-December 21, 2009.  Here are the rules:

  • Create a list of some books you’d like to read or finish this fall. This is the only real requirement for participating in the challenge.
  • Feel free to set some additional reading goals (such as reading to your kids two hours per week, getting through your pile of magazines, etc.). However, this is not required; setting additional goals is completely optional.
  • Write a blog post that includes the list of books you want to read (and any additional goals you’ve set), and get ready to post it on your blog on September 22nd.
  • Visit Callapidder Days on September 22nd to sign up for the challenge. I’ll have an official launch post up that morning, complete with an area for you to submit a link to your personal Fall Into Reading post, where it will be added to the master list of participants.
  • Read! Work on your goals throughout Fall 2009.
  • Report your results. Write another blog post in December to let everyone know how you did. (I’ll post an official wrap-up to the challenge on December 21st, where you’ll be able to share your results.)
  • Have fun! Visit other participants to see what they’re reading. Write reviews if you’re so inclined. But most of all, enjoy your fall reading!

Here is my list for this challenge:

Foxfire, Joyce Carol Oates

Black Girl, White Girl, Joyce Carol Oates

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories Stories, Flannery O’Connor

The Loved One, Evelyn Waugh

Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy

So, what is everyone else reading for this challenge?

Giveaway!!

I’ve decided it’s time to host my first giveaway.  I’ve been blogging for a little over a month now and it has been absolutely wonderful thus far.  To celebrate that, I have a brand new copy of Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan, to give away.  I chose this book because I read it last year and was completely enthralled.

n229409All you have to do is leave a comment.  I apologize, but I will only be able to ship within the US, due to financial constraints.  This contest ends at 11:59pm on October 5, 2009.  I will choose the winner by random selection by October 8, 2009.  Good luck!

Teaser Tuesday: East of the Sun

teasertuesdays31Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

Please avoid spoilers!

That was the rub.  If he had a soul (which he sometimes seriously doubted) it had been, in a hundred thousand ways, forged differently from hers.

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Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge

ClearShelvesButtonS Krishna has just announced the Clean off Your Shelves Challenge.  Details are as follows:

It’s time to officially announce the Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge! This is a challenge that is aimed at getting through those books that have been sitting on your shelves for months, even years!

Who?

Anyone who wants to sign up!

What?

Any non-review books that are on your shelves and/or review copies that have been on your shelves for over six months. This means that recent review copies and library books are not eligible for this challenge! However, that doesn’t mean the book has to have been out for six months in order for the review copy to be eligible.

For example, say a book came out in July, but you received the review copy in January. That review copy would be eligible for the challenge since it’s been on your shelves for over six months.

Crossover with other challenges is welcomed, even encouraged!

When?

This challenge will run from October 1, 2009 – November 30, 2009. This means that it does coincide with Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon, and any books that qualify for this challenge that you read during the Read-a-thon are eligible!

Where?

Here – at S. Krishna’s Books! The sign-up post for the challenge will be posting today as well. Come back to post your review links – there will be links to everything you will need in my sidebar!

How?

This challenge will work a little differently than other challenges. Instead of picking a set number of books to read during this time period, you will pick a percentage. This means that a certain percentage of the books you read during these two months will have to qualify for this challenge. For example, let’s say you pick 40% and you end up reading 10 books in October and November. 4 of those books would have to qualify for this challenge in order for you to complete it. I am setting a minimum percentage of 20%.

As a result, there is no need to make a list of books prior to starting the challenge, though please feel free to do so if you want to! Your wrap-up post should have a list of the books you read for the challenge, though, so please do keep track of what you read!

That seems to be it – here is the link to the sign up post, and please spread the word!

I am in dire need of this challenge.  I am constantly berating myself for acquiring new books when I have so many unread books already at my fingertips.  However, I am only going to pledge 20% for now, just because I am new to challenges and don’t want to feel overwhelmed.  However, we can cross over with other challenges, so that should help.  I’m hoping, however, that maybe I can do a little more than 20% when all is said and done.

I am also glad to not have to make a list for this challenge.  It will be a lot more fun to just choose books on a whim than to feel as if I’m already tied down to a certain list of books.

Anyone else thinking about joining this challenge?

Sunday Salon

TSSbadge1This week has been insanely busy.  BBAW was hectic but SO much fun, plus I finished moving this week, so I guess I haven’t had as much time to read as I would prefer.  I did, however, win two books in a game of euchre last night.  My boyfriend and my friend’s husband played against my friend and me and when the two men lost the first game, I won a trip to the bookstore and my friend won a trip to the craft store! (Unfortunately, the guys prevailed after that so now I have to cook my boyfriend dinner every night for a week).  So even though I had to have absolutely everything out of my house by today, I was still able to make it to the bookstore.  I had promised my boyfriend that it would just take five minutes as I knew exactly what I wanted.  Lo and behold, I was right.  And here is what I came away with:

abundance

Chasing Fire by Suzanne Collins

hunger

girlwhoplayed

the_girl_with_the_dragon_tattoo.large

The last two are the ones purchased by my boyfriend.  The other three I bought with a giftcard I had to Barnes & Noble.  As you can see, I finally relented to the craziness that is The Hunger Games/Catching Fire.

My day started off to a wonderful note when I woke up to discover that my blog had been awarded its first ever award.  JoAnn from Lakeside Musing had taken notice of my blog during BBAW and awarded me this:

fabulousblogaward2

Thank you so much JoAnn.  I am very honored that you thought of me and that you’ve enjoyed my blog.  It means a lot!

As for my weekly Sunday Salon feature, rip4short

I read “The July Ghost” this week, by AS Byatt.  It was the story of a man who rents an attic from a middle aged woman.  He begins noticing a young, blonde haired boy loitering in the yard, around ten years of age.  After a few days, he mentions to the landlady that the boy keeps entering the yard.  It is then that she tells him that her son was killed two years before when he ran into the street and was hit by a car.  She surmises that her sons friends may still be hanging around but when the man describes to her the childs features and clothing, she immediately becomes convinced that it is her son.  She begs the man to report to her every time he sees the boy, which is often, and as time goes on, the woman gets more and more distraught.  The man eventually convinces himself that the boy wants him to impregnate the woman so that she has another child to love and is not so caught up in the little boy.  Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t work out and the man and woman decide it would be best for the man to find other lodgings.

It was a strange, but heartbreaking story.  The woman was so desolate and she really had no type of support system.  She attempted to be infallible from the grief but eventually succumbed to it.  I have never before read anything by AS Byatt but have been meaning to for awhile now, so this story was a nice introduction to a well known author.

Happy Sunday Salon everyone!

PS Make sure to watch my blog for the next few days because I’ll be having my very first giveaway soon!

In My Mailbox

imagesIn My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

This week I found some really great books in my mailbox.  Three were sent by authors/publishers and one was through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

Here’s what made its way to my house . . .

c25618

burning-sea

cleoredtogacover

x21570The first book looks like it would be another great choice for the RIP IV challenge.  I’m eagerly anticipating diving into all four, so who knows how I’ll decide which one to read when!

I’m off to do errands now, so look for my Sunday Salon post later on tonight!

Did you find anything good in your mailbox this week?