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Posts Tagged ‘1970s’

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This book centres around three women – Alexandra, Sukie and Jane – who live in the fictional Rhode Island town of Eastwick in the early 1970s. They are all divorced and/or widowed, and they all just happen to be witches. Their close friendship is threatened by the arrival in town of the base, bawdy, but hugely charismatic Darryl Van Horne. And…that’s about it. More does happen, but the storyline here is really pretty slow, centering more on the interactions between the main characters.

I must confess that this was not what I expected it to be at all. Having recently watched the film again for the first time in years, I expected the book to be of much the same tone – quirky, funny and colourful. It wasn’t, and while it did eventually draw me in somewhat, quite often I found myself looking for something else to do rather than pick up the book, and certain parts did feel really tedious.

I didn’t find any of the characters believable, although to an extent maybe they weren’t meant to be. Indeed out of the three women, the only vaguely likeable one was Alexandra (until it was revealed that she had used a spell to kill a puppy out of sheer spite; that takes some getting past). The prose was undoubtedly eloquent in places, but I always felt that Updike was inserting descriptions where they weren’t required, and was forever flying off at tangents.

The fact that the three women were witches – and were not the only witches in Eastwick – was not treated as particularly surprising to other members of the community, although it was repulsive to some of them, and some of the things that happened because of their spells (such as unusual items coming out of people’s mouths while they were talking). There was not an awful lot of humour in the story, but a lot of simmering malice. In short, for me this book was something of a let-down. I can sort of see why some people would love it, and there were flashes of great enjoyment sandwiched between the weirdness, but as it turned out I was just relieved to get to the end of this one.

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Set (mainly) in Calcutta in 1971, this book tells of a time immediately before the Bangladesh Liberation War between India and Pakistan. A number of Western travellers have found themselves at the Lux Hotel, which in reality is a shabby fleapit. Among those who are in Calcutta at this historic time are Anand, the young man who runs the hotel, such as it is; Larry and Gordon, two would-be hippies who spend most of their time smoking dope and in Gordon’s case searching for the elusive meaning of life; Britt, an American photographer; Hugh, a philandering English journalist; and Freddie, an enigmatic young eccentric.

Despite the war, life is pretty laid back for most of these characters, with shared histories and complicated entanglements taking up most of their time – that is until two murders shake up their world. It will take more than 30 years for the truth behind the murders to come to light – and in the meantime, life marches on…

This book had been languishing on my shelf for about eight years, and I eventually picked it up more out of curiosity than anything. It turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It depicts fictional characters against a factual backdrop, and while some of the characters might be slightly stereotyped, they are all distinct and interesting (if not all likeable – frankly Hugh was pretty detestable). The story was both interesting and amusing, and I was kept guessing  until the very end. I particularly liked how, through a series of letters and news reports, the time frame was brought up to 2003.

The India/Pakistan war was clearly well researched, but while it was almost a character in its own right, it did not dominate the storyline and did not detract from the interaction between the characters.

Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable story and I would thoroughly recommend it.

 

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ID Plays Ltd. present this performance of Donald F. East’s play.  Set in the 1970s, Clive and Moira Richards are an unhappily married couple; Moira is having an affair with Clive’s younger business partner Philip, and Clive is fed up of Moira’s deception, and her constant snippiness and dissatisfaction.  Philip wants to sell his and Clive’s business, and is prepared to go to almost any lengths to do so, while Clive is equally determined to stop the sale happening.  When a woman claiming to be Clive’s first wife Jane arrives on the scene, the stage is set for murderous plots, swapped allegiances, and neither the characters nor the audience are quite sure who is deceiving who.

The play had a cast of just four – Paul Lavers and Carly Nickson as Clive and Moira, Peter Amory as Philip and Bridget Lambert as Jane.  With all of the action being set in the Richards’ living room, this made for a claustrophobic and tense atmosphere.  All of the cast were excellent, with Lavers and Nickson really showing the cracks that have appeared in their marriage, while Amory is immediately unlikeable as Philip (although it’s not hard to see how he could have charmed Moira).  Lambert was terrific in what was the least developed role.

This play is not particularly gory or scary – some unpleasant things do take place off-stage, but on-stage is reserved mainly for the characters plotting.  None of the characters are actually very likeable, and all of them have no apparent concern for any of the others.  This actually worked well, because it meant that you never knew what any character might do next.  There were many twists and turns, and double-crosses, so that the audience were kept guessing throughout.

Overall, this was a lot of fun for any fans of murder mysteries.  I bought my ticket on a whim, and was very pleased that I had done so.  I will definitely be looking out for further productions by ID Plays Ltd.

(For more information about this production, or ID Plays Ltd., please click here.)

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I’m not really sure how to write this review…this is an absolutely wonderful book, and I really want to try and do it justice.

Set in Mumbai in the 1970s when India has been declared in a State of Emergency by the Prime Minister Indira Ghandi, it tells the story of four people who are brought together, and the effect that the relationships between them have on their lives.  Dina Dalal is a widow, fiercely independent and determined to support herself, rather than rely on her brother’s financial help, or get remarried.

Ishvar and Omprakash (Om) are tailors from a low caste, who seek work in Mumbai and find themselves working for Dina.

Maneck is a young man, brought up in a loving family in the mountains, who comes to the city to attend college and needs a room to rent.

All of them are from very different backgrounds, but are thrown together as they try to make lives for themselves during what is a very difficult period in India.

The first half of the book centres on the histories of the characters and tells how they came to find themselves in their respective situations.  The second half concentrates more on the bond between the four of them, and the trials that they face as individuals and as a group.

There is also much in the book about life in India at the time, and how difficult it was for so many citizens.

I adored this book.  Each character was so beautifully drawn that I felt that I really knew them, and I certainly came to care very much about them.  The descriptions of some of the horrors that took place were gut wrenching and very distressing to read about – all the more so, because I was aware that such things really did happen.  It certainly made me realise how lucky I am to have the freedoms and privileges that most of the time we all take for granted.  This is a tale of a population which has been failed by it’s government – and when the rulers of a land can’t abide by their own rules, how can anyone else be expected to?  I could only read with trepidation as some of the characters seemed to be drawn along a road that could only lead to heartache.

There are a number of other characters who are relatively minor, but all of whom were fleshed out and were entirely believable.

The writing was beautiful – so eloquent, but also very accessible.  The location and time were really brought to life.

At no point did I get bored – I just wanted to read on and learn more about the lives of these fascinating people, and the ending when it came, took my breath away.

This is a wonderfully written, warm and absorbing read – very highly recommended indeed.  (Don’t be put off by the length – you may well wish it was even longer!)

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This beautifully written novel tells the story of approximately one year in the life of Erica Mason, a 23 year old American girl who has been living in Mexico for two years. Set in the 1970s, while America and the world was still suffering from the effects of the Vietnam war, and at a time when the world is changing (women’s lib movement, gay rights and legal abortion), this book powerfully captures the spirit of the time, as well as showing the reader Erica’s own personal experiences.

Erica initially moved to Mexico to hopefully develop as an artist, and to find out who she really was and who she wanted to be. Living in Merida, in the Yucatan part of Mexico, she finds many distractions – in the form of drugs, unsuitable men and the poverty surrounding her – which hinder her ability to work on her art or herself. Indeed Erica realises that far from being a social indulgence, the drugs she takes are becoming an addiction to her, especially the Quaaludes (downers) which she takes to calm her.

Linda Dahl describes the lifestyle in Mexico at the time in question, with real skill, so that the sights, sounds and scents which surrounded Erica seemed to almost jump off the page. Dahl apparently spent a lot of time in Mexico in the 1970s, and it certainly shows in this book, with an authentic feel of the place, and especially of the Yucatan area where Erica spends much of her time. The people of the area and their culture are portrayed with great understanding.

Erica herself is also portrayed wonderfully, so that she becomes a character who the reader cannot help but care about and empathise with, as she struggles with her journey through life, in the hope of finding peace with herself.

This is a character driven rather than a plot driven book. The reader sees the world through Erica’s eyes, and becomes well acquainted with her friends and the people who pass through her life.

The story paints a vivid portrait of a young woman in turmoil, in a country facing many problems, at a turbulent time for the world. Highly recommended.

(I would like to thank the author for sending me this book to review.  Linda Dahl’s website can be found here.)

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It is 1970s London, and Chris is bored with himself, his life and his dull marriage.  He meets Roza when he accidentally mistakes her for a prostitute, and despite this inauspicious start, the two become firm friends.  Chris finds himself regularly visiting Roza’s home to listen to her tales of her father the Partisan, her life in the former Yugoslavia, and her experiences since coming to England.  As much as Roza seems to have a need to tell her tales, so Chris has a need to listen to them, and slowly the two start to fall into an unusual kind of love.  But are Roza’s tales true – and does it even matter?

This was quite an easy read – aided by the (on the whole) short, choppy chapters. However, despite Chris and Roza being two of only three characters who we actually ‘meet’ throughout the story (rather than just being characters who Roza and Chris talk about), I found it hard to truly care about either of them.

The book is narrated by both characters, but mainly Chris, and the reader largely gets to see things from Chris’s point of view.

There were a few moments of wry humour, but this is more a story of a love which seems destined to be never entirely fulfilled, but you’ll have to read to the end to find out what does become of them.

This is not a long book – just over 200 pages – and I think it was just the right length. Much longer and I would have lost interest.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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