Recycled Book Reading Challenge: Easter Island (A Novel)

Easter Island

I read about this mysterious island in a book titled ‘World Famous Unsolved Mysteries’ several years ago. Since then it has always arrested my interest even at the slightest mention of it. Therefore, when I stumbled upon this book titled “Easter Island: A Novel” at the old book store, I bought it instantly. The highlight on the back cover suggested a tale of mystery where two stories, belonging to two different eras begin to unfold in this mystical island and finds an interesting conclusion as the stories intersect each other.

Synopsis

There are two stories which we get to hear in this book. The first is the story of Elsa Beazely ,her troubled sister Alice, and her second husband Edward, whom she has recently married. This story is set in 1913, when they visit Easter Island for a scientific expedition. Elsa feels that such a trip would help her move on with her past despondencies and also make her sister feel good with a change of atmosphere. The second story, set in 1970s, is that of Greer Farraday, an American botanist who recently lost her husband (her husband was alleged to have stolen her research works to attain fame for himself.) She too has come to Easter island to get rid from her past and complete her research work on flowering plants, for which the secluded ecosystem of Easter Island provides a perfect research ground.

Both these stories progress at a slow pace. Nothing surprising happens. A reader only relishes the experience of staying in a remote, mystery laden Easter Island, with its sparse population, simple lifestyle and unexplained historical folklores. The claim made that the two stories intersect each other in interesting way is misleading. They don’t connect in any significant manner. Perhaps there is no thrill in both the stories; the only delight of the novel is the experience of living in the quiet and esoteric Easter Island.

The Author

Jennifer Vanderbes has been quite earnestly lauded for this debut novel of hers. It also won her Washington Post Book World and Christian Science Monitor Best Book of 2003. I gathered she has written quite a lot of non-fiction on the subject of botany. Undoubtedly it reflects in this novel too. The character Greer, the botanist, goes at length to explain about her research on angiosperms (seed-bearing vascular plants) The whole of the second last chapter in this novel is the research paper published by the character Greer at the end of her research. This chapter was quite obtrusive as it broke the flow of what I was reading.

Experiencing the Isolation

The only good thing about this book, as I have stated, was to get a feeling of life in Easter Island. The population is sparse and in the novel it is depicted that everyone knows each other. There are no big factories or industry. Every such good is transported from Chile, once in a month. People place their orders and after a month the supplies arrive on ships. People line up to collect their orders.

The island’s past is shrouded in mystery and people don’t seem to have a clear account of its history. The gigantic statues, called moai, have many versions of folklores as to why and how they were created, although the scientists are unable to agree on any of those theories. Explorers and Voyagers have been bumping upon this island and writing accounts, expressing perplexity over its variety of flora and fauna despite being cut-off from any landmass by thousands of miles. The author invokes commentary from such famous explorers like Captain James Cook, Charles Darwin etc. Additionally she introduces us to rongorongo, an unsolved mystery of Easter Island. Rongorongo is a system of glyphs which appears to be writing or proto-writing and it has not been deciphered yet.

With such a mystical backdrop, the endeavor of Greer, to try to move on with her past seems a fair plot. I liked few lines where the sense of isolation and peace is evoked.

“She became aware of the silence all around her, broken only by the slight slap of water against her boots. Here I am, she thought. In the middle of a crater on the most remote island in the world. Reeds rising all around me; all I can see is sky. Not a voice, not a rustle to be heard.”

“On the rocks, about twenty yards from her, she spotted a plate covered with a metal lid, a halo of steam curling from its edges. It was odd, this abandoned meal, but then again, the island seemed governed by its own rules and rituals”

“She takes a deep breath. There is a moment of silence between them as they watch the port chandlers pack up their goods for the evening, as these last signs of familiar civilization rumble their carts into the distance.”

Conclusion

This story is interesting only if you like Easter Island and a little bit of reading about plants(since we have a botanist character here). The story, in itself is not quite gripping. The pace of story is slow and it is only the mystical feeling of the islands that is appealing. It makes for a fine reading on a sluggish rainy day.

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(I am glad to post my review for the Recycled Book Reading Challenge, an interesting initiative by a curios reader and explorer, Mliae! Do visit her blog and learn lots about her life experiemnts! PS- Its snowing on her blog these days! 😀 )

 

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Recycled Book Reading Challenge: Amsterdam

Aha! So here I am to tell you about a recycled book I got to read. It’s called ‘Amsterdam’ and is written by Ian McEwan. This was the first book I read of McEwan. At the old book store, the book cover had caught my attention. It appeared like a thrilling tale with mystery and suspense. Furthermore, the declaration made on the book cover that the book won the 1998 Booker Prize added to my conviction that the story must be great to have deserved such honors.

As I read the book, soon I found my pace slacken becuase of lack of a gripping plot. The characters didn’t appear very interesting to me and their personalities didn’t make me eager to know about their endeavours. One of them was a music composer and the other a newspaper editor. They entered into a pact that if one of them will acquire any terminal illness, the other will help by aiding in quick demise of the other to avoid a painful existence. This, they had deduced, after seeing the horrible conditions suffered by an amorous lady who had died of cancer. This lady had dated both these men and so both of them held sympathies for her.

In the course of the story, a battle ensues between both these guys concerning the issue of morality. What one sees as the other one’s moral duty , the other dismisses it with contempt. What I could gather from it was the hypocrisy ingrained in people, to only see bad in others while justifying their own wrongs.

All in all, the book was quick to finish. The narrative wasn’t quite gripping , nor was the plot. The twists weren’t thrilling nor did I feel like taking much out of the novel. Mostly, after finishing a novel I will have plenty of quotes picked up, or some incidents to talk about or some interesting sequence in the story to think about. Unfortunately I didn’t find any such thing in this book. While I was searching online to read some published reviews, I found one published in The Guardian. I could’t agree more to the words of Sam Jordison

The fact that it won the Booker will make many people (and more and more of them in the future) assume that Amsterdam must be McEwan’s best work, when it is far from it. And if Amsterdam were the only book of his I’d read, I’d never want to read another – and so miss out on one of our best contemporary novelists.

(I am glad to post my review for the Recycled Book Reading Challenge, an initiative by Mliae! Do visit her blog to become a part and also meet bloggers who are a part of this reading challenge! )

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Word High July: Kinaadman

When I had read Alexander Pope’s poem Ode on Solitude, for the first time, I was deeply touched. The poem not just conveyed the felicity of a solitary existence, it also reverberated with my idea of simplicity in life.I have, since, read it several times and often quote its lines in my writings and conversations.

I find this poem a lyrical piece of wisdom, that educates about a peaceful life, where one lives “..In health of body, peace of mind, Quiet by day, Sound sleep by night” It continues to be one of my close to the heart poems.I am glad to share it today for the word prompt Kinaadman– knowledge, wisdom.

Ode on Solitude

by Alexander Pope

Happy the man, whose wish and care
   A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
                            In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
   Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
                            In winter fire.
Blest, who can unconcernedly find
   Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
                            Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
   Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
                            With meditation.
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
   Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
                            Tell where I lie.
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In response to Word-High July: 30 Beautiful Filipino Words: Kinaadman

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Word High July: Dalisay

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Down the peaks of snowy hill

Smooth meandering pebbles fill

The rustle of babbling watery roar

Flowed the stream white and pure

.

And moss like carpets across spread

Herbal saplings along it bred

Carrying the powers to heal and cure

Flowed the stream white and pure.

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-r prab

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(Footnotes: The reminiscence of this scenery comes from a trip to the foothills of the Himalayas, which my elder brother took me to. The clear stream that emerged from the melting glaciers upstream, came flowing at the foothills with all its purity still intact. My brother informed me that the water of the stream had medicinal values too as it had several herbal plants along its way. We filled our water bottles from that stream. It surely was pure and cold and refreshing! )

(Source of above image : Mountain Stream )

In response to Word-High July: 30 Beautiful Filipino Words: Dalisay

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Word High July: Likha

 

 

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Holding in beak the little bird

Straws of grass colourful furred

Weave the twigs, a skillful art

Knitting the leaves part by part

 

 

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A home little in branches hung

Protecting chicks still so young

And gentle wind in hours of dusk

Cradles to sleep, in beds of husk

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-r prab

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(Image source : canvaz )

In response to Word-High July: 30 Beautiful Filipino Words: Likha

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Word High July:Makisig

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Little boy’s birthday it is, at his home

There came his friends little ones

With gifts in hands simple gifts packed with love their friends

Stars,ribbons,balloons decorated the room,dangling from above

Little gentlemen, mothers combed their hair in proper shapes

Little ladies, mothers tied their hair in ponytails sideways

The group of children immaculately dressed looking dashing, gorgeous

Little ones though playful but in such attires becoming conscious

Of not getting stain on fabric, but remain jubilant, playful

The birthday boy is glad, happy to see

His friends all looking so nice!

His mother brings the cake now,

Let the celebrations begin!

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-r prab

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(PostScript: I write this scene recollecting my elder brother’s birthday, several years ago. That day, his friends had arrived in a very formal way. In young, going to other’s house for any occasion, the mothers would dress up the child to make him o’ her look like gentle men and ladies. And since I had always seen his friends in shabby outlooks, that day, seeing them so immaculately carrying themselves, did leave a lasting memory in my mind. Additionally, I would like to mention that I have been inspired by Keith Garrett for attempting a poetry in this style.He does this style really well! )

(Source of above image: NancyLeeMoran )

In response to Word-High July: 30 Beautiful Filipino Words: Makisig

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Word High July: Amihan

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A leaf from the tree

Fell

in the lake

Bell

shaped flowers

Dwell

Vibrant, preserved

Well

Ripples spread across.

And in the winter

Freeze

The lake; flowers

Squeeze

Devoid; accompanying

Bees

When Northerly cold

breeze

Shook the tree gently, again

A leaf from the tree

Fell

in the lake

Bell

shaped flowers

Dwell

Fozen, Frosted

Unwell

No Ripples spread across.

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-r prab

(Source of above image : FineArtsAmerica )

In response to Word-High July: 30 Beautiful Filipino Words: Amihan

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