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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.

Website: www.cmgww.com/historic/wilde

Rating: 10/10

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

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Book Review: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Genre: Play, Theatre
Book Name: The Importance of Being Earnest
Author: Oscar Wilde
Pages: 104
Publication Year: 1899

Once I had completed reading A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, I got interested in reading other classic playwrights. And that is how I picked up the book The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, written around the same time as the first one. While the former was of a more serious genre, this classified into humor genre.

Interesting and cut to the point, it showcases the triviality of placing importance on a name for the match-making. However, this is relevant even now. If not merely the name, many a times education in a specific institution holds much more value in the marriage market. In the play, love is simply reduced to the importance of the name of a person and such a frivolous matter may change the love simply because the other person was merely assuming a fictitious name. Love changed. And why so? The person wanted to escape social obligations and niceties and assumed another name/character on a temporary but on-going basis. However, let me not spill out the beans any more, but the ending of this play is just great. No doubt, this one is still popular even after more than 100 years.

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:
Oscar Wilde’s madcap farce about mistaken identities, secret engagements, and lovers entanglements still delights readers more than a century after its 1895 publication and premiere performance. The rapid-fire wit and eccentric characters of The Importance of Being Earnest have made it a mainstay of the high school curriculum for decades.

Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax are both in love with the same mythical suitor. Jack Worthing has wooed Gewndolen as Ernest while Algernon has also posed as Ernest to win the heart of Jack’s ward, Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack’s country home on the same weekend the “rivals” to fight for Ernest s undivided attention and the “Ernests” to claim their beloveds pandemonium breaks loose. Only a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded hand-bag can save the day!

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.

Website: www.cmgww.com/historic/wilde

Rating: 10/10

Book Review: A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

Genre: Play, Theatre
Book Name: A Doll’s House
Author: Henrik Ibsen
Pages: 102
Publication Year: 1879

Before one appreciates any book, story or movie, it is important to understand the backdrop when it was written/ filmed. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen may be discarded as superficial and feminist by many, but once you find that it was written during Victorian times, your perspective may change.

Those were the times when females were only expected to marry for money and bear kids and anything related to love or independence was frowned upon (other authors like Jane Austen have too written of such times). When a daughter/ wife was supposed to a do a man’s bidding. Has much changed now? No, especially not in rural areas, and we can’t even ignore urban societies outright. Isn’t a wife still supposed to leave job if her husband is working in a different city and she is not able to find a job there? No one is there to take care of her frustrations when she is supposed to behave in a certain way.

Ok, so enough of my rant. With respect to the book, it’s nothing but a 3-act play where the female protagonist Nora is not a twit as we are made to believe in the first few pages/scenes. But she is one who has gone against the norm of society in the manner she deems fit. *Spoilers ahead* She is supposed to be a beautiful wife and a doting mother, but she finds out a way to cure her husband’s illness by borrowing money and working hard surreptitiously to somehow manage the hardships (so unheard of in those times). You may call her an evil person for hiding all this from her husband, but her husband has a very strong opinion on how a person is supposed to morally act. The other female character is also an aberrant where even after being a widow and with none left of her family, she is ready to go out and work for herself.

I am not giving away all three acts of this book, but briefly describing Act 1 only to give you a perspective. Why such a name of the book, you may ask. It’s a doll’s house where characters are supposed to behave a certain way in a make-believe facetious world. Do give this book a try!

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:
A Doll’s House is Henrik Ibsen’s best-known play. This masterpiece created quite a stir when it was first released because of its feminist stance. It is considered by many to be the first truly feminist play ever written. The play comes to a climax as Nora, the play’s protagonist, rejects her marriage and her smothering life in a man’s “dollhouse.” Wonderfully written, a true classic.

About the author:
Henrik Johan Ibsen was a major Norwegian playwright largely responsible for the rise of modern realistic drama. He is often referred to as the “father of modern drama.” Ibsen is held to be the greatest of Norwegian authors and one of the most important playwrights of all time, celebrated as a national symbol by Norwegians.

His plays were considered scandalous to many of his era, when Victorian values of family life and propriety largely held sway in Europe and any challenge to them was considered immoral and outrageous. Ibsen’s work examined the realities that lay behind many facades, possessing a revelatory nature that was disquieting to many contemporaries.

Ibsen largely founded the modern stage by introducing a critical eye and free inquiry into the conditions of life and issues of morality. Victorian-era plays were expected to be moral dramas with noble protagonists pitted against darker forces; every drama was expected to result in a morally appropriate conclusion, meaning that goodness was to bring happiness, and immorality pain. Ibsen challenged this notion and the beliefs of his times and shattered the illusions of his audiences.

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: Azzy by Mobi D’Ark

EtherealJinxed|Book Review | Azzy by Mobi D'Ark

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Sex
Book Name: Azzy
Series: The six wives of Mobi D’Ark (Book 1)
Author: Mobi D’Ark
Pages: 565
Publication Year: 2015
Publisher: Martin Andrew Bower

Just two words for this book. Too lengthy.

This is a book for a specific genre, not many will otherwise be able to wrap their heads around such an elaborate and descriptive book. The book is littered with adventures, drama, and violence. At times you start getting the hang out of the book, but many times it seems to get repetitive and you flounder. This definitely needs many book-sittings to complete. Oh yes, but I did complete. Don’t ask how!

Let’s come to the good points of this book. The cultures of Nigeria and the volatile violence hit environment in post-colonial area by the natives and the outsiders seem to be well-researched. The characters are sketched in detail from the start and they even develop over time. The behavioral pattern of the same person in different scenarios like putting a mask over their actual persona being hidden by the so-called projected charm is also depicted in many parts of this book. The dialogues/ conversation make it an easy page-turner.

You may give this a read, but try reading the few extracts that are available at author’s blog to understand whether you are really up for this!

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Azzy is the first of six novels in a series dedicated to The six wives of Mobi D’Ark. The novels are based on the life and times of a heavy drinking, much wedded and much-travelled English adventurer, who caroused and debauched his way across four continents, making and losing several fortunes along the way. Mobi married his first wife in 1970, and his last wife, forty-four years later, in 2014.

In this, the first novel of the series, it is 1969 and the young adventurer flees from his new life in North America and decides to take a job working for the oil industry in West Africa. It is a time when Nigeria was still adjusting to its post-colonial era and is in the throes of a bloody civil war.

Nigeria is Mobi’s home for the next two and half years and this is where he belatedly experiences his sexual awakening and has many erotic adventures, before – and after – meeting the sensuous, hot-blooded, volatile Azzy, a gorgeous young black girl from the bars of Lagos.

They set up home in the war-ravaged, ‘wild west’ town of Port Harcourt. During the next two ears, the couple have a stormy relationship which leads to many hair-raising adventures, and unexpected consequences.

Azzy is a tale of whimsy, sex, drama, violence, black magic and cliff-hanging adventures. Mobi’s sexual awakening, his brushes with African Juju and his skirmishes with the out of control military are all graphically described in a tale which the reader will find hard to put down.

About the author:
Mobi D’Ark was born in Hampshire, England in 1946. He trained as an accountant and travelled the world extensively as a senior financial manager in the Oil, Insurance and Entertainment industries.

Mobi writes a weekly blog (mobithailand.com), in which he relates stories about his life as well as articles on current affairs – many of them Thai related. He draws on his wide-ranging experiences as source material for his writing and is currently working on the second novel in his six book series, “The Six Wives of Mobi D’Ark.”

Rating: 6/10

Book Journey: Dollar Bahu

EtherealJinxed|Book Review | Dollar Bahu by Sudha Murthy

Genre: Drama, Family, Fiction
Book Name: Dollar Bahu
Author: Sudha Murthy
Pages: 142
Publication Year: 2005
Publisher: Penguin Books

For your information, dear reader, there are no spoilers ahead in this book review. Reading the excerpt, the story is all laid out in front of you before even you start reading it. Quick and a light read, this is a simple story of saas-bahu. This book is as good as a typical K-series drama. You may still like the typical stereotype the characters are built upon and you may correlate them with your neighborhood and with those around you.

Notable point: This was translated from Dollar Sose in Kannada.

The easy way the story moves, Sudha Murthy has kept it simple by restricting the story to less than 150 pages. The story is about the attraction the western world/ Dollars still commands from Indian middle class and the disengagement ‘kasmakash’ one can associate between money and relationships. And that most times, you cannot get everything that you want, there’s always a either-or situation.

Both cultures – Indian and Western have been represented well along with their pros and cons and the author has done well in this regard. However, I expected the male characters to develop as well as I turned the pages and this has been a disappointment.

Google searching the image of this book, found out that this has already been made into a TV series and aired on Zee TV channel in 2001.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Does money corrupt the way family members look at one another?

Vinuta marries Girish, a bank clerk, and starts living with his family in Bangalore. She adjusts to her new family well, looking after her husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law Gouramma, not taking to heart her mother-in-law’s constant criticism. But when Girish’s elder brother Chandru, who is in the US, decides to get married, Vinuta has to listen to the constant comparisons made between her and Chandru’s wife, the ‘Dollar Bahu’, whose husband earns the valuable dollars that has brought the family its recent affluence. Vinuta slowly loses her health and peace of mind.

Then Gouramma decides to visit her US-based son and daughter-in-law. Once there, she sees how liberating life can be, away from the strict norms that govern Indian middle-class life. But she also begins to understand that mere dollars cannot buy the love and respect that she gets as her due back in India. . .

Gouramma realizes that she must forge a new relationship with Vinuta–but Vinuta has to first forgive and forget the past.

About the author:
Sudha Murty was born in 1950 in Shiggaon in north Karnataka. She did her MTech in computer science, and is now the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, she has written novels, technical books, travelogues, collections of short stories and non-fictional pieces, and four books for children. Her books have been translated into all the major Indian languages.

Sudha Murty was the recipient of the R.K. Narayan Award for Literature and the Padma Shri in 2006, and the Attimabbe Award from the government of Karnataka for excellence in Kannada literature in 2011

Rating: 7/10
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