23 February 2011

Commitment Issues and an Evening Class

I have loyalty issues - with books. You know, that urge to ditch a book few chapters in, and run to another one, simply because the blurb on that one is too darn attractive? Yes, I think if we had psychiatrists for bibliomaniacs, they would say this was a serious ailment... Commitment issues.

I went to Chennai last month, and where people come home with loads of clothes, fashion jewellery, jeans, and more normal stuff, my family went to Chennai and came home with a cartload of books. Now, give me a "whoop" if you get what I'm talking about! Some people out there might think it would have been more clever to buy something more worthwhile, valuable, shiny... I did try, you know. I went into Spencer's in Chennai, and I DID oggle at the purses, the jewellery, the food, and the clothes (especially the Kurtis and the jeans). But then I walked into the books section, and my mind went blank. I forgot about all the awesome things I saw back there, and gave up.

So, now I have more than 5 books sitting on my shelf, and I can't decide what to read. I also borrowed two books from The American library (located inside the American Embassy compound), and I have literally picked at one chapter each, still unable to decide what I should settle down with.

What did I do finally? I decided to clear the air (and my head) with Maeve Binchy. So, I read     Evening Class. It's a lovely book.

This was the first time I read Maeve Binchy - thanks Nameeta and Karen for introducing me to this lovely writer and for feeding my obsession!

So, anyway, Evening Class. The story is about how an Irish lady teaches Italian to a very diverse group of people. She runs the class along with a teacher who works in the school on whose grounds the evening classes are held. The class has around 30 students, and the entire novel tells the story of each one of these students and how they came about attending an Italian class.

So, if you're thinking, "Whups, that's a hell of a lotta characters," then you couldn't be more right! It starts with the story of Aidan, a teacher who has been waiting for the post of School Headmaster all his life, and the love affair between his 20-something daughter and the 40-yr-old teacher who actually gets the headmaster job... Oooh Harsh!

Aidan meets Signora, an Irish lady who followed her Italian lover to his hometown and settled across the street from him, and watched as he married an Italian girl his family chose for him, and had babies, started his own restaurant, and eventually died. During all of this, she keeps their love affair a secret, and finally returns to Ireland when the widow of her lover requests her to please leave the country and his memory to the grieving family. At this point, Signora also finds out that the family knew all along about the affair that had been, but had also decently refused to make an issue out of it. Poignant!

The story of Signora is really what laces the entire novel together, as she comes in contact with each character, advising here, helping there, appreciating one, learning from another, until all of them take home something beautiful and valuable from her Italian lessons and her personality.

Having said that, just you try keeping track of all the Irish names, the stories, and the back stories, and the what-not!! I really became confused at times, when two characters had similar personality traits, spoke in a similar way, or had criss-crossing story-lines.

In the end, though, it is a lovely book that you should read on a sunny Sunday afternoon, curled up on your couch, or you can read it in between watching MasterChef (like I did), or read a few pages every night, and go to sleep knowing that everything will be okay, which is my favorite way of reading a book! (So different from the sheer terror that you take to bed with you, if you read Harlan Coben! But that's a story for another post.)

I read the book, and isn't it a nice coincidence that a second book by Maeve Binchy, which another friend gave me (Thanks DazzlingRay!) was like a tangent story of Evening Class? The main characters of Quentin's are minor characters in Evening Class. So, it makes me feel happy that I know what EVERYONE is doing... :P

Anyway, I'll be back with a review of Quentin's as soon as I'm done.

Thanks for sticking around. Love ya!


Karen Xavier said...

:) and you learnt some Italian along the way! After reading that book I would go around wishing everybody in Italian on their birthdays, I still remember it 'Buon Compleanno'. Anyway, she's a nice author, I like her pace; slow reading with ordinary characters. Check out Tara Road and Circle of Friends, I like them the best.

Jane Hamilton said...

Oooh yes! That would be fun, wouldn't it? Walking around, talking in Italian? Yes, must definitely try that! hehe!

Will definitely try to get hold of 'Tara Road' and 'Circle of Friends'.

Hey, thanks for visiting. :)

Skinny Kids Can Be Healthy Too

My husband and I were waiting at the bus stop, and an old lady who we've never met before came up to us and said, "Don't you ...