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Book Review: An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

Genre: Play, Theatre
Book Name: An Ideal Husband
Author: Oscar Wilde
Pages: 78
Publication Year: 1893

So, this is my week of reading playwrights. After having finished A Doll’s House and The Importance of Being Earnest, I was more impressed by Oscar Wilde. Probably, as a child, I may have been asked to remember this author’s name as part of the General Knowledge subject, but the way his books are so popular, I am sure there would be something to refer back, but only if I have kept my school books till now.

While The Importance of Being Earnest was a downrightly funny book, this – An Ideal Husband has much more depth and things to ponder upon. So-called trustworthy politicians, love, family, marriage, cheating, gripping storyline, engrossing satire, witty and clever play of words, this book has everything one may want in a playwright. Although for feminists, a few dialogues/acts may be slightly jarring but since this was written during Victorian times, but those are better ignored.

I was so entranced that I could imagine the characters on a big canvas screen playing out their roles and ah, the impeccable dialogue delivery gave me such memorable moments. Do I need to see a movie based on this? Oh no, but yes, a play adaption here in my city will surely be a catch!

This became my go-to-book for a few nights post office hours since I was reading this in a super-slow motion. And I have saved this book for happy moments and stress-buster. Very much recommended!

Let us look at some of the dialogues:
I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself. – Haven’t we all done that – advising others while rarely following us on our own?
Oh, I love London Society! I think it has immensely improved. It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics. Just what Society should be. – Hasn’t social media (Facebook and the likes) have reduced us to the likes of dummies?
It is not the perfect, but the imperfect, who have the need of love. – Really is any one perfect, if yes, they are just kidding themselves?

P.S: It is available free of cost on Amazon Kindle version. So what you waiting for! Shop and enjoy…

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
An Ideal Husband revolves around a blackmail scheme that forces a married couple to reexamine their moral standards — providing, along the way, a wry commentary on the rarity of politicians who can claim to be ethically pure. A supporting cast of young lovers, society matrons, an overbearing father, and a formidable femme fatale continually exchange sparkling repartee, keeping the play moving at a lively pace.

Like most of Wilde’s plays, this scintillating drawing-room comedy is wise, well-constructed, and deeply satisfying. An instant success at its 1895 debut, the play continues to delight audiences over one hundred years later. An Ideal Husband is a must-read for Wilde fans, students of English literature, and anyone delighted by wit, urbanity, and timeless sophistication.

About the author:
Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. His novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), and social comedies Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) established his reputation. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest.

As the result of a widely covered series of trials, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years hard labour after being convicted of “gross indecency” with other men. On his release from prison, he lived in obscurity, and died in poverty.


Rating: 10/10

Read reviews of other books by Oscar Wilde on this blog – The Importance of Being Earnest.

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Genre: Classics, Romance
Book Name: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Pages: 373
Publication Year: 2013 (first published 1813)
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers Ltd

No words are needed to describe Pride and Prejudice written by Jane Austen. It is an evergreen book (published in 1800s and still very popular), not very ambitious and was written during Regency period.

The book is cast in a chronological timeframe (as I have read in many articles, lovers of books usually prefer books written in opposite way – to and fro as per the need which stimulates their thinking capability). However, the background is described so eloquently that you can hear the characters speaking out loud in their typical manners. Of course, it helped since I had seen the Bollywood version of the movie, read the book previously and seen the Hollywood movie in that particular order. The re-reading was still charming to say the least.

Do read this classic. It needs to be read at least once in your lifetime, if not already done so! But for ardent supporters of feminism, do avoid. And unromantic people can skip a few pages in between, but they will still be able to understand the story.

Book blurb:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Austen’s best-loved tale of love, marriage and society in class-conscious Georgian England still delights modern readers today with its comedy and characters. It follows the feisty, quick-witted Elizabeth Bennet as her parents seek to ensure good marriages for her and her sisters in order to secure their future. Through the irrepressible characters of Mr Collins and Mrs Bennet and the sensitivities and nuances of the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth, Austen’s skill and artistry as a writer shines.

About the author:
Born in 1775, Jane Austen published her many novels anonymously. Her work was not widely read until the late nineteenth century, and her fame grew from then on. Known for her wit and sharp insight into social conventions, her novels about love, relationships, and society are more popular year after year. She has earned a place in history as one of the most cherished writers in English Literature.

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

EtherealJinxed|Book Review | Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Name: Things Fall Apart
Author: Chinua Achebe
Pages: 224
Publication Year: 1958
Publisher: Anchor
Notable Points: Made into radio program,
movie, mini-series

This fictional book seems to emerge from the reality of the living conditions and interactions of Nigerian tribal communities in the pre-colonial era and the subtle changes the missionaries did without being extra-aggressive. Chinua Achebe has also explained in great detail on why a character behaves thus with others. All emotions – love, heartbreak, frustration, anger, sacrifice, retirement and the human psychiatry have been given their own spaces and scope to intermingle with each other.

A tough book to read from the start, where one may get confused with the names of the characters sounding very similar to each other. Probably, this is how outsiders may feel about Indian names as well. So that’s normal. But once you remember the character a name is referring to, you get deeply involved with the same. All that ends in a story is not supposed to be well and happy; the ending though was perfect in this case with the tint of tragedy.

It’s been years since Things Fall Apart was published but it’s still one of the favorite books of literature with many schools/ colleges recommending the same (not in India).

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries.

These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

About the author:
Chinua Achebe was a novelist, poet, professor at Brown University and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.

Achebe’s novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of values during and after the colonial era. His style relied heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He also published a number of short stories, children’s books, and essay collections.

Rating: 8/10

Book Journey: The Vale of Laughter

EtherealJinxed|Book Review | The Vale of Laughter by Peter De Vries

Genre: Satire, Comedy
Book Name: The Vale of Laughter
Author: Peter De Vries
Pages: 352
Publication Year: 1967
Publisher: Little Brown

A classics styled funny writing (this one is an old book I found in someone else’s collection) and a complete contrast to Kapil Sharma’s not so entertaining jokes on stupid stuff.

You basically understand what a clown (or in this case, a good-for-nothing person) if not able to find his niche can do. He can create scenes out of his own life and portray it in such a practical manner that people instead of despising it will laugh! An interesting read that has an unexpected turn of tales.

Probably I would need a re-reading of this book to better understand the underlying genre these series of books generally catered to for I am yet to touch-base and be comfortable with similar class of books.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
A brilliant, fiercely funny novel that ponders the eternal question: is it better to laugh or cry?

Joe Sandwich is a clown. Not literally, but what else do you call an eleven-year-old who goes to church to confess his good deeds: “I did my homework without being told”? A stockbroker who gets seasick watching the market tape and claims the gross national product is “deodorants”? A father who mows curse words into his lawn and names his son Hamilton because, well, who can resist a Ham Sandwich?

Prankster, punster, cut-up, card—Joe needs to crack wise about everything. Has he figured out the secret to embracing the inherent absurdity of life, or is there some terrible anxiety at the root of his compulsion? Lots of people want to know, including his wife, Naughty, who is anything but; his mistress, Gloria Bunshaft; and her husband, Wally Hines, a humorless professor who specializes is the philosophy of humor.

“If you look back,” says Joe, “you turn into a pillar of salt. If you look ahead, you turn into a pillar of society.” He prefers to live in the moment, from one gag to the next, but the joke he doesn’t see coming may get the biggest laugh of all.

About the author:
Peter De Vries was born in Chicago to Dutch immigrant parents. He worked with New Yorker magazine for forty years. A prolific author of novels, short stories, parodies, poetry, and essays, he published twenty-seven books during his lifetime, several of which were made into films. He was heralded by Kingsley Amis as the “funniest serious writer to be found either side of the Atlantic.” De Vries was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1983, taking his place alongside Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, and S. J. Perelman as one of the nation’s greatest wits.

Rating: 7/10

Book Journey: Ramayana The Game of Life by Shubha Vilas

EtherealJinxed|Book Review | Ramayana The Game of Life Shattered Dreams by Shubha Vilas

Genre: Mytholology
Book Name: Ramayana: The Game of Life
Shattered Dreams #2
Author: Shubha Vilas
Pages: 387
Publication Year: 2015
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House

The book – “Ramayana: The Game of Life Shattered Dreams” mentions Ramayana in a more purist form. It presumes the original story in a raw sense by following up on the story of Valmiki’s Ramayana. It keeps changes in the scenes to a minimum and does not resort to imagination or twisting facts to cater to popular cravings. To state the unspoken fact, Ramayana and Mahabharata are two epics which do not need any amendment in the content for they have tales from all angles of emotions – sacrifice, anger, love, drama, etc.

If one has not read the first book, one may feel apprehensive in directly starting with the 2nd part. However, we have all grown up with tales of Ramayana and it never feels like you have missed out sections of the fable. The Indian myth has so much to offer that every new book you will come across, there will be a new perspectives, and at times, even new fragments you will come to know.

The author Shubha Vilas describes each passage in an eloquent way with quips and insights of wisdom to draw parallel in real life. Examples:
Convenience is about changing the law to suit your life but maturity is about changing your life to salute the law.
The ghost of mad desires becomes a vampire that sucks the blood of others.
Trying to make destiny respond to our urgency or shape it to our needs is like breaking an egg to hasten the hatching process.

Trying to make destiny respond to our urgency or shape it to our needs is like breaking an egg to hasten the hatching process. And almost every page has bounty of wisdom to offer. However, this made it seem more like a moral science lesson we learnt as kids and loses the touch for a light read. Either one misses out on the content or the analogies drawn to explain some real life construct.

To conclude, the author has done extensive research on the subject (the storyline and the characters) and deserves applause for putting it in a well versed manner to the readers.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Shattered Dreams is the sequel to the national bestseller, Rise of the Sun Prince, in the new spiritual and motivational series Ramayana – The Game of Life. Twelve joyful years have passed in Ayodhya since the wedding of Rama and Sita at the end of Book 1.

Now, in Shattered Dreams, Shubha Vilas narrates the riveting drama of Rama’s exile. Through tales of Rama’s unwavering and enigmatic persona, the book teaches us how to handle reversals positively; through Bharata’s actions, it teaches us to handle temptation; and through Sita’s courage, to explore beyond our comfort zone. This complicated family drama provides deep insights on how human relationships work and how they fail.

With Valmiki’s Ramayana as its guiding light, Shattered Dreams deftly entwines poetic beauty from the Kamba Ramayana and Ramacharitramanas, as well as folk philosophy from the Loka Pramana tales, to demonstrate how the ancient epic holds immediate relevance to modern life. Experience the ancient saga of the Ramayana like never before!


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