Heat and Dust

by Magan

MV Book Club Meeting                                                                                                             7 November 2012

Since October, when we discussed Please Look After Mum, the book clubbers have been meeting at Dr Cafe, Publika and the general consensus is that this place is more conducive for discussion compared to the MV room.  You will  first need to recover from the traffic jam with a good cup of coffee, though.

MV Book-Clubbers discussing Heat and Dust at Dr Cafe

Today, we discussed “Heat and Dust” by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.  The story is set in India and it parallels the lives of two English women living 50 years apart – one is the married Olivia, living during the time of the British Raj and the other is the narrator, grandchild of Olivia’s husband, living during the flower power era of the hippies.

The discussion was led by Mique who had prepared a list of questions before-hand and she shepherded us back to these when we strayed, which we did very often.  The animated discussion certainly generated a lot of ‘heat’ and emotion, in contrast to the book which uses a very matter-of-fact tone.  There was mixed reaction to the book – from a rating of 2/10 to 8/10.  One thing we did agree on was that none of the main characters were likable, although there was some sympathy for Olivia.  The Nawab’s manipulative character did not endear him to us nor did the narrator’s permissiveness.  Ironically, the book club meeting event has been titled ‘Heat&Lust’ in the Yahoo calendar.  A Freudian slip?

For me personally, it was an interesting read as the book is well written with very good portrayal of people, places and events both of the British Raj and of India after independence.  However, the rather bland tone used did not evoke any emotions and hence this is a story that will not stay with me – a good read but easily forgotten.

We are reading Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s “This Earth of Mankind” for the next meeting scheduled on 5th of December.  See you there!

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Author: Museum Volunteers, JMM

Museum Volunteers, JMM Taking the Mystery out of History

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