In the beginning there was … Love & Beauty & Life & Light & Spark & Prosperity & Style & Soul & Bliss & Happiness & Wonder & Joy & Courage & Vision & Solidarity & Childhood & Freedom & Dream & Faith.
And then their step-brothers and step-sisters – hatred, lust, death, darkness, poverty, plague, immorality, scandal, despair, expectation, sorrow, envy, blindness, ego, greed, cynicism, grievance, hunger, terror, fear, bullies – made room and started messing things up … all for a reason, a very basic reason: to make our life more worth treasuring, every single day, every single moment.
I started this blog from a purely egocentric need: a need to remind myself of beauty and love.
In the beginning there was … Love & Beauty & …whatever we wish for!
It started on such an idle note that I almost abandoned it. Glad I haven’t, encouraged by reviews saying “if you read only one Western novel in your life, read this one” (USA Today). It had also the promise of a Pulitzer award winning novel.
“Lonesome dove” has the classic of the genre, good guys – the rangers Call and Augustus – and the bad guys. Characters are also nuanced, in fairness to human nature. The bravest ranger could be a coward father to a son, to whom he gave his horse and gun but not his name. The evil characters are of all colors. So are the noble ones.
This Western depicts through two female characters the choices women had during the times of land claiming by Europeans. They had to choose between whorehouses or settling to a married life on farms lost in solitude, childbearing, death and harshness. Some kept their sanity, others – not. It explains many societal attitudes centuries latter.
The story mingled with epic description of nature and evolving landscapes under the influence of humans, like the disappearing buffaloes. The author also pais his respects to the natives threatened by the dramatic change to their livelihoods.
Some dialogues are full of humour, while some – abound with sorrow and regret. All in one, almost 1000 pages of human nature during an important part of the US history.
I do not know if I bought the book for my kid or for myself. Never mind, we both loved it.
The stories of little leaders are well documented. The bios of are filled with factual information in an easily accessible language. A glossary helps understanding some concepts, which could be new for young readers.
We learned a lot about women and girls who had the courage to go beyond and above what was considered “normal” for the times and societies they lived in. Like the story of Fatima Al-Fihri who funded and created in year 859 in Morocco the first degree granting institution in the world, as a precursor for universities. Or Peggy Guggenheim, the art collector who saved modern art pieces, which would have been otherwise destroyed by the nazi regime. Or the work of Sister Corita Kent who used serigraphs to spread bold messages of love and peace.
“History shows us we need labels to help define our place. For hundreds of years, people have categorized others as less so they could feel like more. Color, gender, class, religion, physical handicaps, sexual orientation, and pedigree are just a few ways in which one group is divided from another. For every person who stands superior, another must be inferior. But what does it say of us as a human race when we push others down for our own needs? Does it accomplish the intended goal or simply give rise to a pattern of behavior that can never be broken? What if we all stood equal in one another’s eyes and felt pride at our reflection?” from “The Storyteller’s Secret” by Sejal Badani.
The best advice from a teacher in ” The storyteller’s secret” by Sejal Badani:
“I will also advise that when they travel in their stories, they respect the people they meet and the values they hold. Their way of life is not for us to judge but our opportunity to learn. And to never forget that when you offer a hand of respect, you will in turn be welcomed.”
Sejal Badani is a Goodreads Fiction Award finalist for her “Trail of Broken Wings”.
“The storyteller’s secret” novel takes you to India. The novel has two story lines. One is around 1940s-50s and the other one – 30 years forward, each with their own main character: a grand-mother and a grand-daughter.
Jaya – the grand-daughter – came to India from the USA to heal her pain after three miscarriages and the separation from her husband. There, she learns the story of her grandmother from an untouchable, who worked in his grand parents’ house as a faithful servant. Jaya learns of her true heritage when her grand-mother’s secret is revealed by her by that faithful servant. She learns her mother is a fruit of the passion between her grand-mother and a British officer she loved. In healing her own pain, she re-lives her grand-mother’s tough choices of staying in the marriage her parents arranged for her; staying with other other three sons when asked by the man she loved to leave with him and their daughter; stopping to do what she loved – teach and write stories – when family duties called.
In the story, the grand-mother dies young in very tragic circumstances. The author portraits the grand-daughter as a living testament to the materialisation of aspirations of a generation who although oppressed kept her dignity and left a legacy.
The story has a happy end of healing found by those who sought it. Although it gave the book a predictable end, it was just fine, after the intensity if the two parallel life stories of the grand mother and grand-daughter, who “found” each other 30 years after through storytelling.
While some reviews find the book not very exciting, it matched my reading needs at this stage. Even it it is fiction, stories of vulnerable deserve to be told in any form and cherished by those who live to harness the sacrifices made by generations before.