What Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix Book Review

Wuthering Heights has been a beloved classic for centuries. The turbulent relationship between the orphaned Heathcliff and his adopted sister Catherine has enthralled audiences since 1847.

What Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix, by Tasha Suri, is a YA reboot of the novel. It was published last month.

In the late 1780s, Heathcliff is the son of an unknown lascar (a sailor from the then British colonies who made their living by working on European ships). Taken in by Mr. Earnshaw, a landowner from Yorkshire, he is immediately labeled as an outsider. Though he tries to remain true to his Indian roots, it creates an even bigger chasm between himself and the family he has been brought into.

Catherine is the younger Earnshaw child. From an early age, she knows what her future will be: marry a man of appropriate stature (and wealth) and bear his children. Even if it means hiding her true nature in the process and slowly dying inside.

Though they appear to be completely different on the surface, they have a bond that is deep and unbreakable. When Catherine’s father dies, everything changes, and not for the better. The cruel treatment that Heathcliff receives goes from 0 to 60 the minute that his adopted father is in the ground.

The question is, will they be themselves and build a life together? Or will they give into the expectations of the greater society around them?

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I was blown away by this book. It is one of my favorite books that I have read this year. Using Bronte’s original as source material, Suri takes the narrative in new directions. While delving into colonialism, racism, gender lines, and the strict class structure of the period, she gives the reader new insights into the characters. Like its sister novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, the world expands beautifully beyond the original text.

Most of it takes place in the three years after Catherine says that she cannot marry Heathcliff. While she is flirting with the idea of marrying Edgar Linton, he is doing everything he can to make his name and his fortune. Even if that means getting involved with some shady characters.

If I had to choose a favorite part of the book, it is when Hindley (Catherine’s brother) stops being a drunken brute for a minute and reveals secrets that their father would have preferred to remain buried.

My only warning is that I recommend reading Bronte’s original novel first.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

What Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix is available wherever books are sold.

Throwback Thursday: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

Retirement presents an interesting conundrum. Our working years are over, but that does not mean that our lives are over. There are opportunities for experiences that simply could not or did not exist when we had to go to work.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) is the story of a group of British retirees who decide to pick up and move to India. Among them are Evelyn (Judi Dench), Douglas (Bill Nighy), Muriel (Maggie Smith), Graham (Tom Wilkinson), Jean (Penelope Wilton), Norman (Ronald Pickup), and Madge (Celia Imrie). They find a rundown hotel and in addition to the individual adventures, go about fixing it up.

Assisting them is Sonny (Dev Patel). Sonny is long on enthusiasm and dreams, but short on the practical aspects of opening and maintaining the hotel. He also has a significant other that his mother openly disapproves of.

The prequel to The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this movie is charming, entertaining, and lovely. The cast is picture perfect, the imagery is lovely, and the story is perfect. It proves that life does not end when we stop working.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

No Country Book Review

Intergenerational family stories are a genre unto themselves. What makes one narrative compelling or another boring depends on the writer ensuring that all of the threads weave together to create a coherent and engaging tale.

No Country, by Kalyan Ray, was published in 2014. The novel starts in a small town in rural Ireland in 1843. Brendan and Padraig have been best friends since they were young. As it usually happens when we are on the cusp of adulthood, the boys are torn apart by blossoming and confusing romantic feelings. Padraig is unaware that his girlfriend, Brigid is carrying their child, when he leaves for the city to fight for his nation’s independence. Instead of returning home, he makes a dangerous mistake that sends him instead to India.

Back in Ireland, Brendan is raising Padraig and Brigid’s daughter, Maeve as his own child. When the potato famine struck, he decided that it would be better to start a new life in America. As the years pass and different branches of the family tree come into being, questions of identity, politics, and history play with the fate of their descendants.

The book started off well enough. I was drawn into the narrative and the character’s struggles. The problem is that about 2/3rds of the way in, I got lost. I can’t put my finger on what went wrong, but for whatever reason, the story lost its momentum. While I did finish it, the ending left me with an empty feeling.

Do I recommend it? No.

No Country is available wherever books are sold.

Throwback Thursday: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

The wonderful thing about the movies is the ability to take us away from our daily lives for a short time. The not so wonderful thing about movies is that stereotypes can easily be spread.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was released in 1984. This chapter of the Indiana Jones narrative takes place in 1935 in India, which was then part of the British Empire. When a mystical stone is taken from a small village, Indy (Harrison Ford) teams up with Wilhelmina “Willie” Scott (Kate Capshaw) and Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) to find the rock. It has been taken by a secret cult who is driven by death and slavery.

I have mixed feelings about this movie. As an adventure film, it’s fine. Ford is at his finest as the title character. I understand that this is a heightened reality that would never exist in real life. The one thing that stands out to me how extremely annoying Capshaw’s character is. She is whiny, she is needy, and she contributes nothing to the story other than being the obligatory female. I don’t understand how Capshaw and co-screenwriter Gloria Katz could bring this 2D character, who is completely unlikable, to life. I was also struck by the portrayal of the Indian people. I wish this image had been a little close to the truth and less of a caricature. While I appreciate the inclusion of Short Round, it does little to improve my opinion.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

An 8 Month Old Girl Was Raped In India. Pardon My French, But WTF?

Imagine this, if you will. You have an infant daughter at home. You leave for work one morning, expecting her to be taken care of while you are at work. Instead you come home to find that your child, who is not even a year old, has been raped by her adult cousin.

I would love to say that this story is fiction, but the story is sadly true.

I don’t have any children, but this story makes my stomach turn. What kind of sick person rapes an eight month old? What kind of society allows not just looks the other way when it comes to rape and sexual assault,  but also silently paves the way for a baby to be raped?

If this is not a sign that we need severe change in our culture, I don’t know what is.

 

Beyond Disgraceful

In India, a man  ran away with a married woman. In response, a local council responded by ordering the rape of his sisters and the destruction of his home. Fearing for their lives and the safety of their daughters, the man’s family is living elsewhere, unable to return home.

Amnesty International has launched a petition to urge Indian authorities to step in and protect the daughters of this family.  If you believe that this ruling is unjust, wrong and just plain cruel, please sign. These girls should not be living in fear of such a heinous act.

This is beyond disgraceful. It is disgusting.

What kind of backward society allows a local council (note that they were not elected by the people and are only on the council because they were lucky enough to born into the upper echelons of their society) to decide that a just punishment is rape?

Why must the daughters and by extension, the family be punished by their son’s decision? If anyone should be condemned, it is the couple, not his family and most certainly not his sisters.

What also strikes me about this story is that it proves that in  many parts of the world, a woman is still regarded as a piece of property. They are bought and sold in the name of marriage, their virginity is their asset and the key to the family’s future. By ordering the rape of these two innocent girls, their future and by extension, the family’s future is soiled forever.

It is beyond disgraceful and the men who ordered this heinous act should be brought to a legitimate court to be tried for their actions.

Excuse Me?

Rape is not a new phenomenon. It is as old as humanity. Rape is used to control and suppress victims and potential victims, making them feel powerless.

Leslee Udwin is a British filmmaker whose documentary, India’s Daughter is about the rape and murder of a young woman in India in 2012. The Indian government is doing all it can to keep the documentary away from the public.

Mukesh Singh is one of the men who  was sentenced to death for the crime. He believes the following:

A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. … Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes.

Excuse me?  Are my ears deceiving me? In 2015, the fact that these words are still being uttered is disgusting.

Let me tell you something, buddy. If there is anyone who should be locked away home and forced to cook and clean, it should be you.  Men and women are equal. If a woman wants to go out in the evening, it is her right to do so. Just because YOU believe that we are living in 1915 and not 2015 does not give you the right to tell a woman how to live.

I hope at the time of your death, whenever that is, Just A Girl keeps playing over and over until you go insane. And then maybe you will remember what century we live in.

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