Book Review – Kingfishers Catch Fire by Rumer Godden

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(My Rating: 4/5)

Published in 1953 and set in pre-Independent India, (or perhaps just after Independence – I could not ascertain which) Kingfishers Catch Fire is about fickle, illogical and dreamy Sophie, a British lady, who after travelling around India with her two young children, as and when a new fancy struck, finally decides to settle down in a remote part of Kashmir.

She is of the firm belief that she will fit in seamlessly with the locals and that she and her family will be accepted as one of them. Of course, the reality is something quite different and this is what the novel explores. It brings into focus much of what the situation in India was, specifically the hierarchical relationships between the Indians and the British – the unspoken barriers that existed, where everyone had their place and no one questioned those places or tried to alter things. Sophie however, is an exception; she does question and does try to change things. The scenario that unfolds – what happens to this single mother of two – as portrayed through Godden’s story, is a very believable one.

The characters are very interesting and well fleshed out. Sophie is the kind to go off on a whim and make plans without examining the practicality of their execution. For example, when she is short on money and decides to settle down in rural India, she emphatically declares to her daughter- “We shan’t be poor whites. We shall be peasants.” Continue reading

Reading Challenge 2016 – Book 3: The Mousewife by Rumer Godden

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The illustrations in the book are by William Pene du Bois

(My rating: 4/5)

Within this tiny book, with its tiny protagonist, lies a big story about a big heart.

The Mousewife is a tale about the true meaning of friendship and selfless love; of giving someone the opportunity to pursue a dream – a dream that might also be your own dream –  knowing fully well that you may yourself never have the same opportunity; and finally, of rejoicing in the knowledge that you have allowed someone the chance to be happy.

I think it is one of those books where all readers will see several common themes, but also where each reader will take something unique from it and that is a pretty remarkable feat for a book that is only around 40 – 50 pages long! Continue reading