A Passage to India by E.M. Forster — A Review

I know this is way more than late but as I had said I was very busy writing my novel Droṇyāksha and The Rise of Asuras which is coming along very nicely. I have sent first 20K+ words to a few close friends and the answer is more than encouraging. In the meantime I read Lord of The Rings and The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi! I may do a review of the latter later. I also read Inferno by Dan Brown and am currently reading Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. Here now is what you have been waiting for, a great review of a great book, ‘A Passage to India’!

In my review of Tranquility by Laurie Gardiner and in a self-defaming post I mentioned I am reading ‘A Passage to India’ and am planning to give a review of it in as much detail as I can. E. M. Forster has managed to captivate his readers and deliver an enchanting tale in this 300 + page novel set in British India of 1920s. Though many would have already read it I am quite sure some of you have not, so relax because there will be no spoilers. I intend to keep and if possible increase your desire to read the book.

The language is rich and fluid. Easily capturing the mood and scenario of Indian mindset under British rule and exposing the hypocrisy of the ruling class. Our main characters are Dr. Aziz, Mr. Fielding, Ms. Quested and Mrs. Moore. But other characters that come maintain a strong hold and play their parts wonderfully. Those of you who are serious about writing must read this as it shows how characters develop and undergo various changes in course of the novel. There is perhaps no villain or if there is one, it would be different for everyone who reads it.

E. M. Forster worked on this novel for nine years and this was his last novel. Why he did not write anything else after this is not very clear. Scholars have given conflicting views and it is not easy to accept any view as truthful. The remark of Forster himself could be accountable. He claimed he had become bored with the novel form. If that is true, though highly improbable, we could understand why he decided not to write further.

The book is dedicated to Syed Ross Mahood, former chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University and friend and student of Forster. Forster was in love with Mahood and Mahood being heterosexual could not reciprocate his feelings. Though Mahood was not his only love interest, he surely held massive impact on Forster’s thoughts and writing. The frustrated relationship of Mr. Feilding and Dr. Aziz is seen by some scholars to be an echo of Forster’s relation with Mahood. But I disagree. There is no doubt a frustration in the relationship of two friends in the novel and it may reflect to some extent the relationships of Mahood and Forster but it is not an echo of the writer’s relationship with his friend, as nothing I read and interpreted gives this idea.

Let’s now talk on other aspects of the book. ‘Echo’ when you read this novel will stand out to you, it’s a word that slowly takes form of a character, not a comforting one and certainly not a villain but a disturbing one. You will not hate this new character but I doubt you will love it either. Your best hope would be to hope for a lingo. You would wait and when you would reflect on what have you just read I’m quite certain ‘echo’ will stand out to you.

One of the prominent questions of the novel is, ‘Is it possible for an Englishman and an Indian to be friends?’ The friendship of our two main characters goes through a lot and can by no means be called ideal. The question is one of ethnicity, can two people with different mindsets and different backgrounds be friends? My experiences have been varied. I have found wonderful people both outside and inside my community who I can call friends and yet the question is still poignant. Once you read the book and analyze other motifs and themes, please do come back to this theme and give a thought. I would love to hear from you.

One of my friends said she did not like the book, now her reasons were solid and so I must tell you if you are not into reading anything like this which is now at least hundred years old you must stay away. Although the story becomes more potent and charming for it has survived the test of time and still rings true to many.

There is a charge regarding the mention of Indians as stereotypical. This charge holds some value as the characters are not entirely as the writers has shown but leverage can be given to him if he has stayed true to the story form which he had, and developed the characters well, which again he had.

I have certainly mentioned some of my favorite lines from the book but that’s not it. I have tons of it and here are another few ones:


* Opening his eyes, and beholding thousands of stars, he could not reply, they silenced him.


* You can’t eat your cake and have it, even in the world of spirit.

* There is no such person in existence as the general Indian.

* There is no God but God doesn’t carry us far through the complexities of matter and spirit; it is only a game with words, really, a religious pun, not a religious truth.

* You cannot say “The rose is faded” for evermore. We know it’s faded. Yet you can’t have patriotic poetry of the “India, my India” type, when it’s nobody’s India.

* There is something in religion that may not be true but has not yet been sung.

* One man needs a coat, another a rich wife; each approaches his goal by a clever detour.

* God si Love. Is this the final message of India?

* ‘I am an Indian at last,’ he thought standing motionless in the rain.

* The air was thick with religion and rain.


So, what do you think? Are you going to read it? You must, it’s worth it. Let me know what you think and please check out other great reviews here.


Teens Deserve a Voice as Much as Rock Stars

Interesting read.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

Keith-Richards-Jerry-Garcia-630x420Photo by Jason Merritt, Getty Images, Warner Brothers

The big news in rock today is that Keith Richard bashed the Grateful Dead, calling the music of the late Jerry Garcia “boring shit, man.” (http://ultimateclassicrock.com/keith-richards-grateful-dead-comment/).

People are all over Facebook putting in their two cents. Since I follow rock groups, it’s most people that agree with Keith … agreeing that The Grateful Dead suck.

In later years our tastes change. As a woman in my early 50s, I’ve grown to the point where I enjoy some Grateful Dead songs and will listen on a Sirius, but I have no desire to see them live or purchase their music. As a teen, my attitude was not so kind. I agreed with Keith — they were boring shit. (Sorry, Jerry!) However, unlike Mr. Keith Richard, I was bullied, relentlessly, for my opinion.

I suppose Keith Richard will never have three guys…

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Tranquility by Laurie Gardiner: A Review

While I write the much awaited review of  ‘A Passage To India’ here is a review of a great novel ‘Tranquility’ by Laurie Gardiner.

I received a free ePub of this book by Laurie for an honest review. You can get (and I’ll tell why you should) a copy on Amazon.

ISBN 978-1-908191-98-4 (ePub)

ISBN 978-1-908191-51-9 Trade Paperback

Meet her at Facebook and Twitter.

About the author: (as written in the end of her book) Laurie Gardiner grew up on a farm in a small Northern Ontario community in Canada. She left home at seventeen to experience life in the city and now lives in Cambridge, Ontario with her husband of twenty-seven years. Raising three kids, teaching fitness and operating a home daycare left little time for writing, but she did have some poetry published in various anthologies over the years. In 1997, her short story “‘Til Death Do Us Part” placed first in the Cambridge Writers Collective anthology.

At the age of forty, Laurie went back to school and began a new career as a personal support worker. Though she ended up working in homecare, it was a placement in the dementia unit of a long-term care facility that inspired her to write her first novel, Tranquility.

Laurie is currently enrolled in the Creative Writing Program through the local community college and is working on her second novel. (And I don’t think she needs it much.)

Here is what the author reveals of her book:

Sometimes there’s a price to pay for doing the right thing.

Support worker Sarah Scott learns this the hard way when, soon after being transferred to nursing home Tranquility’s dementia unit, she uncovers a sinister secret. Doing the right thing could mean losing her job, and unemployment is not an option for the young, single mom.

Meanwhile, Sarah begins to question whether her newest resident, Edie, belongs in the locked unit. The feisty, Scottish woman certainly doesn’t act as though she has dementia. Sarah is determined to have her released, but her plans are thwarted when Edie risks her own freedom to help uncover the secret.

Review: The story pulled me in from very first line but by the end it seemed that line was not very important. As I never reveal what happens in the book and try to keep the mystery as well as honesty in mind I’d say Laurie put the Chekhov’s gun but forgot to fire or never intended to fire it.

Laurie’s language is rich and fluent and her style is eloquent. (I know that’s most common praise but it fits.) all her chapters ended for me to keep reading just one more page and before I knew, I was reading another chapter and another and yet another! She has combined humour and emotions perfectly, her characters have their lives and flaws and the story feels very personal at many levels. There are just a few mistakes but those are the things that firstly are editor’s and second, can be easily ignored.

The only noticeable mistakes are two; she used a few adverbs that stand out. I’m not as much against adverbs as Stephen King is, though I try to write without adverbs just to be sure. Another is she killed a darling. No I’m a fan of killing the darlings, the more the better (No, I’m not a psychopath!). Laurie kills two darlings in the book, death of the first darling is very much justified, that’s how it should have been, but the second darling’s death feels more of an effort rather than a necessity.

The story is good overall; the ending could have been made a little tighter, though it’s very good as it already is. The pace is accurate, not too fast to make you think what just happened? Not too slow to make you yawn and say, move ahead already! I enjoyed it and would recommend reading it, it is a good book for two purposes, if you are starting out writing you could learn a lot, if you are a voracious reader already you will enjoy it.

Reading tranquility makes me feel how there are wonderful authors who with a little help of right platform and promotion could shine. I wouldn’t call the book perfect as no book can be, but it’s a great read and more so because it’s Laurie’s first novel!

I have so many beautiful and favorite lines from the book but I won’t share them all (yes, I’m that selfish!), but here are a few to let you know Tranquility is worth a lot of shots!


Memories were all I had left of him. Losing them would be like losing him all over again.


Others reached out, took my cold hands in theirs and tried to offer comfort. But it was not comfort I needed. It was my mother.


Christmas was over and Dementia was back to its usual state of organized chaos.


Coffee could lead to drinks, which could lead to dinner, which, judging by the level of attraction I felt for him, could lead to, well, lots of things.

Yes, I know you want to get your copy but wait and read a little further, I still have a few more things to tell. The story has got love (you’ll love the kisses and feel giddy remembering yours), friendship (you will laugh and feel greatful for having your best friend), family (enough said), standing up for a cause in the face of problems, doing what is right even if it threatens to harm you (umm… with a little persuasion by a friend of course).

Are you still here? Did I not tell you to get the book? Now just hop on and order your book, but first write a comment appreciating me how good a reviewer I am. cough cough

Being a bookworm I read a few book I really like, again, and this is going to be one of those!

Check my reviews of Call of The Herald by Brain Rathbone, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and I Want To Live by Thom Jones if you enjoyed this.

The Strange Case of Ms. Drama and Mr. Prose

This post will finally prove I’m not as brilliant as you think, you are forewarned.

When results for my second year examination came, I was not very happy with the marks in Literature, so I decide that I should give the paper again. That was not a brilliant move. You see, if I get lower marks than before I’m doomed. The results will be out soon and I will know what happened to that.

Continuing the story, after deciding to give the paper again I obviously filled the Improvement Form with help of a friend as I really hate paperwork. Here comes the trouble. We had three papers; Poetry, Drama and Prose marked as Paper I, Paper II, Paper III.

And I was thinking I have received lower marks in Drama while I had in Prose, not only that I was of the opinion that Drama is Paper III while Prose, Paper II. That my friends took me on an adventure.

This is how the format looked.

1.________ 2. ________ 3. ________ 4. ________

This is how I filled it:

1.________ 2. ________ 3.  DRAMA  4. ________

This is how I should have filled it:

1.________ 2. ________ 3.  PROSE  4. ________

Now I did not come to know of my mistake untill a week before the paper and when I did find out, I was not as worried as I should have been. Why? I had just finished my novel and my euphoria did not allow me to be sad at all.

So I went to the office and asked the clerk what should I do, as a clerk he had no idea what should I do so he told me to just go and give the paper, I thanked him and came back.

Did I prepare for my improvement exam? Yes, and no. I prepared for both papers half-heartedly. I read Macbeth, Merchant of Venice, The Guide by R. K. Narayanan and the Anthology of English Prose laughing at my good to go brain. I had decide to come both days (1st and 2nd September when the papers were to be given) and talk to the examiners of my Strange Case of Ms. Drama and Mr. Prose.

So that’s what I did, I went to university on 1st September prepared to give the paper of Drama if I had to. I explained to the invigilators of my strange case and told them that the attendance register for the exam will solve the trouble. It did. My name was not there!

And that was something I wanted because my marks in Drama were fine and I had no intention of giving that paper. So I came back and relaxed, picked up The Guide and Anthology later in the evening, read it again and went next day to give the paper for Prose.

This time my name was on the list and I finished my paper in two hours instead of appointed three. So instead of waiting for the time to end I decide to come home and do some work on my novel, which I didn’t; do some beta reading for my writer friends, which I didn’t; what I did was, sat with my brother and coax him into making a website for me, which he had been doing for past couple of days. And while we are on that, I’m going to have a Facebook party for launch of my website and all of you are invited to take the first look. I’ll post more about it soon.

How did university manage the paper?

I have absolutely no idea, they may have put my name for third paper as that was the space filled, no matter by what. Worked out in my best interest.

What did I learn?

Paperwork was not, is not and will not be my thing. I should hire a professional to do that.

Now that, that is over and I’m sort of back on track, let me remind me I have to post the review for ‘A Passage To India’ and I intend to do that very soon, maybe by this Sunday.

So, what tale of your mistakes would you like to share?

Photo Courtesy: http://fetorpse.blogspot.in