Thursday, May 17, 2007

Not quite fluff

When I want to read something that's easier, but not too easy, I turn to my favourite women authors. Anne Tyler and Maeve Binchy. Who perhaps have little in common, except that they weave beautiful stories out of nostalgia and less admirable sentiments like being bored with life and the need to compromise. These books are everything Danielle Steele aspires to create but can never, in a million years hope to - full of homespun wisdom, wry humour, gentle ironies, colour and warmth. And needless to say, both authors, unlike the prolific Ms. Steele, are more than competent in their craft.

Like a lot of my treasured finds, the movies introduced me to these books, specifically Maeve Binchy's Circle of Friends - which launched the career of Minnie Driver- and Anne Tyler's Back When We Were Grown-Ups, a Hallmark production which featured the amazing Blythe Danner. So I have read everything by the two the local libraries have to offer, which is nearly not enough.

Maeve Binchy is Irish; that I suspect is part of the charm. There is a certain 'fey' quality in her work that I would associate with the Irish; rightly or wrongly. There is both a bitterness and a sweetness to her books. Anne Tyler's books are set in small town America and typically feature a woman at a crossroads. Her observations, especially of the minutiea of relationships - subtle signs like a raised eyebrow or a drooping shoulder - is especially acute. Both are at their best when working out the dynamics of relationships, and their conclusions are seldom simplistic - but they are of course, coloured by the particular way in which women see things. They are perhaps not for everyone, because these books are not ones in which a whole lot happen.

But if you have a sunday afternoon to spare and are in the mood for something a little wistful, do pick up a Maeve Binchy or an Anne Tyler.


oormila vijayakrishnan said...

Hi Shailaja... Long time :-) Have posted a painting on my blog and also the story behind why I did it. please do give me your thoughts on it when you get the time... Hope your kids are doing well. Mine is always on the run, literally! :-D Am reading John Banville at the moment. Yet to check out Maeve Binchy...

sreejit swamy said...

hii ... I'm Subhash chettan's partner at Adfactory ... he had mentioned about ur blog... just been to it while orkuting... great ones... but i guess, u should increase the frequency of the posts.... btw do visit mine too when you get time and tell me what u think about it...its ..thanks