Stevenson and Sharma

I’ve decided to only post my thoughts on two books at a time instead of three. I think writing about three books at a time makes a post too long. Also I am feeling pretty loopy due to allergies so I hope these following thoughts make sense.

Mrs. Tim of the Regiment by D.E. Stevenson (Bloomsbury Group, 1932) – While browsing through my library’s eBook collection one day I discovered that several of the Bloomsbury Group books are available to check out in digital format. I was surprised and more than a little thrilled to have instant access to Mrs. Tim of the Regiment and immediately downloaded it. Set in the early thirties, Mrs. Tim is written in diary format by Hester Christie, the wife of Captain Tim and mother of Betty and Bryan. She writes about her domestic arrangements, relationships with the other regiment wives, the day to day scrapes and scrambles of a family with wit and lots of good nature. I really enjoyed the first part of the novel, but the second half (when the family moves to Scotland) is pretty weak. I learned from reading other sources that it wasn’t part of the original novel, but rather a separate story called Golden Days. My problem with Golden Days is that it veers very far away from the endearing domestic life of the Christies while Hester and Betty spend time in the Highlands. I found it boring and very different in tone and style from Mrs. Tim. I am now reading Mrs. Tim Carries On and I absolutely adore it because it is a return to the everyday life of a regiment wife.

Family Life by Akhil Sharma (W.W. Norton, 2014) – Family Life is one of the many (many) eGalleys that I’ve downloaded since joining Edelweiss. I prefer reading print books, but you can’t beat being able to read about a wonderful-sounding book one minute and have it on your iPad the very next. This book was a very quick read, more of a novella, that packs a powerful punch. It is a novel about immigration and assimilation and how families deal with new experiences and tragedy when far from their support system. The Mishra family moves from India to Queens in the eighties in order to give their two sons, Ajay and Birju, better educational opportunities. The boys are old enough to miss India and struggle with the adjustment to American life, but their parents push them to fit in at school and excel. When tragedy strikes during summer break the Mishra’s dreams for their sons are crushed and they never quite recover the optimism and hope that propelled them to America. The tone of this novel is very clear-eyed and truthful. It isn’t happy, there isn’t a rainbow at the end of the storm. The family is nearly destroyed by their misfortune and they don’t endure it with dignity. Sometimes such realistic and painful novels are just too depressing, but I thought this was compelling and beautiful misery. This novel will be released on April 7.

More about Mrs. Tim at:

Stuck in a Book