Wet Silence by Sweta Srivastava Vikram

wetPowerful.  That is the word I would use to describe Wet Silence, the newest poetry collection from Sweta Srivastava Vikram.  I devoured this collection in one sitting and went back to reread several pieces and I know I will read them yet again in the future.  This collection relates the hardships of Hindu widows in India.  We don’t know the women the stories speak of but we know that their stories are shared by many other widows in India.  It is a very moving and emotional collection … very raw in the telling and one that will haunt your thoughts for days to come.

In my years of reading I have read many novels that  portrayed the lives of women in India and that was, in fact, my interest in this collection.  This collection addresses the many restrictions placed on Hindu women after the passing of their husbands.  What they wear and eat is controlled.  They are unable to love again and remarry.  Basically they are expected to mourn their husbands for the rest of their lives whether they had been treated well or not.  As a woman it saddens me to think of vibrant women, some in the peak of their lives, having to live a life like this –  being dictated to and no longer being able to enjoy the pleasures life has to offer.  Wet Silence perfectly captures the grief, sadness, and anger that these women feel and through Sweta’s voice, I too felt their sorrow.

Wet Silence is an amazing collection.  It hits you hard – in the gut with it’s raw reality.  When I read poetry I look for how it affects me emotionally and Sweta’s is one of the most powerful I’ve read in terms of evoking so many feelings in me.  It is exceptional.

Please take the time to enjoy this video of Sweta and a reading of her poetry.  I’ve never listened to an author read their own poetry and it really adds a whole other dimension to the words spoken.

 

And finally I’d love to share a piece of Sweta’s poetry with you…one of my favorites.  It was the very first one I read.

My husband is leaving

Widowhood is trapping me unwillingly.

I can hear a white cotton sari weaving at the shop,
demonic voices sharp as the mustard paste in fish curry
speaking in whispers around the hospital corridor,
accusing me of standing and watching
his rotting flesh and dull eyes,
not brooding like soot on windows.

My husband is leaving.

It’s his touch gentle as velvet,
his angelic tone that I’m seeking.
Bidding farewell to our dream,
my curse: I keep on living.

(“My husband is leaving,” a poem, originally appeared in Sweta Srivastava Vikram’s poetry book: Wet Silence(Modern History Press: July 1, 2015. ISBN-13: 978-1615992560))

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Highly recommended!

 

Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review. No compensation was received.

Sister Bio from The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie & Giveaway (US/Canada)

Last week I reviewed The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie (my review) which I can best describe as a wonderful piece of historical fiction.  This week I’ve got a bio on one of the sisters – Pauline.  Now I wasn’t very fond of Pauline only because she betrayed her sister.  In terms of her personality though I respected her.  She was an independent and strong willed woman in a time when most women weren’t.  I hope you enjoy the bio and please enter the giveaway for a chance to read The Sisters of Versailles – the first in what I’m sure is going to be a very exciting trilogy!

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About the Book

versaillesCarefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed.

The Sisters of Versailles centers on the (relatively, at least for the genre) overlooked period of early 18th century France. The French Revolution and Marie Antoinette have been extensively written about; it’s time for fans of that time period to step further back in time and to explore the reign of Louis XV (1715 – 1774) a time of increasing social turbulence and change that sets the stage neatly for the Revolution that follows.

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters—Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne—four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot—and women—forward. The King’s scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters—sweet, naïve Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne—will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.

In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Telling the story of a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie’s stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood—of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

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About the Author

versailles1Sally Christie was born in England of British parents but grew up mostly in Canada. As a child she moved around with her family and then continued her wandering as she pursued a career in international development; she’s lived in 14 different countries and worked in many more. She’s now settled in Toronto and loving it.

Sally lives and breathes history; ever since she read Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots when she was 10, she’s been an avid history junkie. She wishes more attention and technical innovation was devoted to time travel, because there is nothing she would rather do than travel back in time! Writing historical fiction is a poor substitute, but it’s the best one we have at the moment.

When not reading and writing history, she’s a tennis and Scrabble fanatic.

Author links: Website, Goodreads

 

GIVEAWAY – OPEN TO US & CANADIAN RESIDENTS
1 copy up for giveaway
*CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter
Draw Date September 15/15

 

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Source: All post info provided by the tour company. Giveaway sponsored by the publisher. No compensation was received.

Montpelier Tomorrow by Marylee MacDonald & Giveaway (US/Canada)

montMontpelier Tomorrow by Marylee MacDonald gives us a brutally honest journey into the lives of a family dealing with the devastating effects of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  The reality of the disease stays with the reader long after turning the last page.

Colleen has been a widow for many years and raised her three, now grown, children all on her own.  Now she enjoys her work as a kindergarten teacher.  Then comes the gut wrenching news that her daughter’s husband Tony has ALS.  Colleen of course rushes to her daughter Sandy who has just had a baby with another young one at home.  Colleen, wanting to do whatever she can to help, moves in with the family.  However it ends up being much more time than she had wanted to spend away from her own life and ultimately Colleen ends up being Tony’s primary caregiver which she hadn’t wanted either.  Colleen though is one of those take charge moms.  She battles through it all and gets things done.  It’s who she is.

The author realistically describes the work that goes into caring for someone with ALS, especially the fast moving type that Tony is afflicted with and it isn’t pretty or easy.  To top things off Colleen and her daughter have always had a rocky relationship and Sandy doesn’t hesitate to be rude to her mother or unappreciative.  Nonetheless Colleen stays and continues to do the majority of work with both Tony and the kids.  Her love for her daughter shone through in every single thing she did even if Sandy couldn’t see it.

Unfortunately I didn’t connect with any of the characters but did to the story.  I felt sorry for Colleen but sometimes her attitude towards things frustrated me a great deal and Sandy I just didn’t like at all.  I know she was going through an extremely hard time but her treatment towards her mother turned me off completely.  Even with a rocky relationship she should have been very grateful that her mother was willing to give up her life to help her care for her husband.  I think I was looking for someone to sympathize with but their dispositions just didn’t evoke that in me.  However the more I thought about I realized that this is, in all likelihood, how a real family would act.  They would be understandably angry and resentful and maybe that’s a good way to portray them instead of the novels that portray everyone as being positive and always optimistic.  In reality when a person’s world is completely falling apart they can’t always soldier on and pretend it’s all ok.  I appreciated that in this story as it felt very real to me.

Montpelier Tomorrow is an excellent read for those in caregiver roles or for those dealing with ALS themselves.  It would also make a very good bookclub choice as well.  The topics for discussion are endless and the emotions that this novel evokes are enough for a discussion in itself.  There is also a twist at the end that comes completely out of the blue and for me it just didn’t fit.  I wish there had been a different end to it all but that doesn’t take away from the power of the novel itself.

Montpelier Tomorrow isn’t an easy read but it is definitely a worthwhile one.

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GIVEAWAY – OPEN TO US & CANADIAN RESIDENTS
1 copy up for giveaway
*CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter
Draw Date September 12/15

 

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the author for an honest review. No compensation was received.

The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

versaillesThe Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie is just the beginning of a historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV of France and the women who captured his heart and shared his bed.   This novel is rich in details of the era and it has one feeling as though they are at court and experiencing all that it had to offer which includes all the court intrigue and backstabbing to get ahead in the King’s affections.  The Sisters of Versailles centers around the five Nesle sisters with the spiciest tidbit being that four of them became mistresses of the King.  How’s that for court scandal?

As I began reading this novel I couldn’t believe something like this could happen … but happen it did.  The story of the sisters is true in every detail making it even more intriguing.  We all know that in matters of the King and the court people will destroy anything in their paths to get ahead in the favors of the King but sisters?  The five Nesle sisters – Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne were close as girls but that all changed when Louise became mistress to the King.  Back at the convent Pauline plotted to get an invite to court and once she did plotted to take over her sister’s place as the King’s mistress.  It doesn’t stop there though as when those two sisters are out of the way Marie-Anne, once thought to be the kind and sweet one, turns out to be even more vicious in her efforts to secure her place with the King… even to the point of involving her sister Diane.  Wow you say!  Right!  It reads like a good soap opera but it’s all true!  With sisters like these who needs enemies?

Hortense is the only sister who never became a mistress to the King and she never had a desire to.  Louise was the first but she was much to naive and caring to survive the court and that’s exactly why she had been so easily replaced by her sister Pauline.  Pauline was not someone to like.  She was mean and had no trouble pushing her sister away.  The true evil one though was Marie-Anne.  She was very crafty and meant to secure her position in any way she could including pretending that she didn’t even have a sister named Louise.  Truly I’m still shocked that sisters could treat each other in such a manner but I imagine that’s what greed and the need for power does to some.

The Sisters of Versailles is told from the viewpoints of all the sisters.  I liked how the author clearly let us know which sister was speaking and the letters she included from the sisters to each other really let the reader know how the sisters were feeling emotionally.

Rich in historical detail The Sisters of Versailles and all the juicy happenings (all the better as they are true) are sure to please the historical fiction fan!  I really enjoyed it and I’m already looking forward to the next in the trilogy!

Please remember to pop by next week as I spotlight a bio on Pauline, one of The Sisters of Versailles!

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review. No compensation was received.