The Veil and The View….

I know my plate is full and things are about to topple over, but I just could not pass up not answering The Classic Club’s November’s Meme

“A meme rewind: Pick a classic someone else in the club has read from our big review list. Link to their review and offer a quote from their post describing their reaction to the book. What about their post makes you excited to read that classic in particular?”

There was no way I was going to let this one go, there are so many who have inspired me to read so much more, expanding my horizons and making me realize that there is more so much more to read than I was viewing. As is always the case, I had more than I can possibly talk about and I was definitely not going to restrict myself to one book/post alone, but since I am short of time this month, I had to limit myself to two bloggers only.

Here goes – again, the disclaimer, the sequence in way reflects any order of preference or importance:

Stefanie reviewed EM Forster’s A Room with A View, published last year in November. Stefanie writes such amazing blogs about books anyway, that my TBR as well reading activities lists keep growing longer, way longer than I can manage. But this really stands out in my memory, is because, I do not like EM Forster. I do not relate to his writings and though his writing had a great humanitarian touch, I always felt that his attitude towards the then British colonies and the indigenous population was of kind condescension, a gentle noblesse oblige! Anyhow, what really caught my eye were these lines –

It is all light and frothy and romantic on the surface with an undertow of serious that if a reader isn’t careful will catch her up and swirl her around every which way. There are issues of class, women’s roles, relations between the sexes, the English tourist, and, most of all, personal integrity and self-actualization.

The only work of EM Forster’s I had read prior to this was A Passage to India and there was no undercurrent of color and gender politics in that. I mean it was there from the word go – no floating around and tea parties or anything. The fact that this book seemed to be multilayered and more importantly not deal with colonial politics of that time made me sit up and take notice. (Colonial politics is important, but I could not stomach the seemingly fatherly patronization of Kipling and I still say Forster). Also the way Stefanie synopsis of the characters seemed much more human – Lucy seemed to be like so many muddleheaded women I see (at times, I am among them) as well as the goodness of Emersons. This book is in my TBR pile, already bought and ready to be read, once I finish the November chores!

Fleur reviewed W Somerset MaughamThe Painted Veil” in January of this year and this among her many works, made me take notice and read it. Again one Somerset Maugham is one author I am wary of! I read his Razor’s Edge and loved it. Though I know Maugham was trying to make several statements but I simply loved the concept of a difficult path to true happiness versus the short cuts of materialism. Though I read it centuries ago, I still find the concept heartwarming and real and just as apt! On the other hand his, Of Human Bondage (Yes! I know many people swear by it! But I cannot relate to it all) The trauma of fitting in, the suicide, and the never-ending cycle of heart breaks left me gasping and I was sure as ever of never picking up another Maugham as long as I read, which practically my whole life! That was my resolution until I read Fleur’s review. She has a knack of writing things that catch my eye and when reviewing this novel, it was no different –

I must confess that, though I loved the recent film adaptation of The Painted Veil, I have been circling my copy of the book for a long, long time. Because for years Maugham lived in my box marked ‘A Great Author But Not For Me.’ Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Hey! That’s me all over again! Except I had not yet decided on the Wrong Wrong part, as yet! And of course, I had not seen the movie. But I loved how Fluer spoke about the clean precise lines of the story the non-populated (as opposed to Of Human Bondage where I was losing track of Mildreds and Sallys) tale of Walter and Kitty  and a difficult marriage with some glorious descriptions. She also described how she cared about the characters and wanted the best for them. This was in sharp contrast with my feelings with, but reclaimed memories of how I felt for Larry in Razor’s Edge and I was hooked. Of Human Bondage. I have since then read the book and have to agree with Fluer’s final assessment –

I have moved Maugham to a different box, marked ‘A Great Author And I Must Read More of His Books,’ now

Thank You Ladies, once again for introducing me to some great books!