Death In Holy Orders : P.D. James

Book    : Death In Holy Orders
Author : PD James
Genre` : Crime Fiction 
Published By : Alfred Knopf
Year     : 2001
Cover   : Insipid
It was the name of the author which enticed me in to buy the book from that ramshackle book stall on a cold evening in Dehradun. There was a chill in the atmosphere and strong gusts of wind were rocking me back n forth making me unsteady on my feet.The rapidly descending evening and the biting cold urged me to be quick and I bought it for my late night ritual of a steaming cup of coffee with a good book.
I was apprehensive as I almost never liked a crime /detective fiction title with the word 'death' in it. For me the title ought to be subtle something like Kalpana Swaminathan's Monochrome Madonna, Sujata Massey's 'The Flower Master' or Agatha Christie's 'They Came to Baghdad' 
The first one was a dud,second interesting and the third captivating.It clearly proves that liking the title has nothing to do with my liking the book but it certainly helps in notching up my respect for the author even if its a bad book.
 And if this rambling  preamble had not put you off ,my review for it will certainly do.
The book was my first PD James.She is revered by many and sought after by almost all crime fiction lovers.No discussion of detectives and crime is ever complete without a mention of his poetic sleuth Adam Dalgleish and I have no objections to it as James indeed is an excellent writer.
She has a spontaneous writing style with such a sharp eye for detail that the book felt like reading a novel of manners drenched  in blood!

Her narration is full,complete to perfection leaving nothing to imagination.She describes a scene with characters, their contours,expressions,gestures,intonations and modulations of voice and all that which, they(the characters) chose not to say ! It includes the surroundings, the time of the day, the shadows,the foliage at that time of the year and the contrast nature presents with the the man made structures.
At times, she is painfully lengthy about the furniture and its arrangement. For me it was not unpleasant but, in the last 50 pages or so it was simply not welcoming to read about the number of square tables small and big,central and near the window, once more.That too,in detail !
 My other and the MAJOR grievance in this book is -The motive for the murder(s) is non-existent. If its there its so lame..
It does not make sense!
And due to it , it felt like a waste of time .Grrrr...
Had it been one of my first books, it would have enriched my imagination and knowledge about a sea facing town/hamlet, about meres and groynes, about the cloisters and courtyards of a Gothic-cum-Victorian mansion,about the birrete and albs,compline, evensongs and other christian rituals and biblical references and about the church-hierarchy and church politics... but as I had read it after 27 springs of my life, it had nothing ground-breaking-new to offer in terms of settings and surroundings except a good whodunit, which it failed to deliver almost completely.sigh!

The story opens with Mrs. Munroe writing her diary entry regarding the death of an ordinand Ronald Treeves of the monastery St. Anselm.The death indicates itself to be an accident or a suicide.A chance occurrence ignites Mrs. Munroe's memory and she remembers somethings from her past and telephoned someone to affirm her memory. It was confirmed positively. She hinted at it in her diary and was murdered the same night. Adam Dalgelish was about to holiday near St. Anselm's and conveniently settles in the monastery to probe about the death of Treeves when another gruesome murder of the visiting Archdeacon took place followed by another one of a priest's sister. 
Adam has to act fast before more blood is spilled on the holy grounds staining it forever and beyond repair...

The book is conveniently divided in three parts-
The Killing Sand
The Death Of an Archdeacon
and Voices From the Past
And despite my grumblings,it does offers vivid imagery of the bleak east coat ,of the small theological college with all prevailing silence unnerving at times, but otherwise providing repose from the charivari of town, beautiful and realistic characterisation (scored full here) and some lines worth reproducing-
Witty one-
"I can imitate you but I can't hope to emulate you"
Quotable one-
"Unwelcome words gained in intensity if softly spoken"

Special Mention - I was intrigued by Dalgliesh.He did not speak more then two paragraphs in whole book but a poet and an intellectual, he seemed different. Though again for my irritation he took too long to solve the crime and that too without zest,charm or even wit. Hopes he gets better in the next. 

My VERDICT
Leave it, if you are a veteran reader of detective fiction and looks for a taut plot with a crisp climax.
You may read if you like nuanced portrayal of cast,settings and situations in a narrative immersed in nature's symbolism.
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What Indians Lack : Love (period)

IndiBlogger BadgeWhich bad habit of Indians would you like to change for our India? #ChangeBadHabit4India
I read the topic and was Grrrr... This girl.She loves conflict! Well,Anita, here is my take on us :) Smile is for you otherwise the topic you posted,is no smiling matter.At all...

No spitting
Be hygienic.
Keep your surroundings clean.
Respect Public Property.
Respect women... small girls.
Don't attend to yours' and your brood's Nature's call as per your wish.
Don't mark heritage sites.........
Why, the list is endless..

What we can learn from this seemingly  never ending list is that we lack in one quality,the essential - National Character.
Mother calls it Rashtriya Charitra.

We don't love our country.
 Lack of this one trait make us slave to all the above mentioned habits... otherwise how come as soon as we land on Heathrow Airport,we become civilised ,right from inside the plane! We don't push our co-passengers, which you can witness in domestic flights in a mild form. And to experience it in full bloom, travel in any private/roadways bus on NH 24 .I'll guarantee you minimum two bruises, a sprained joint and bump in head.
.
We don't love our land... 
and Oh! I have to define 'land' as its meaning differ for us.Life is no Chennai Express.South meets North.

We don't love our people.
52 died from the  '........ area' the newsreader reported. Proffesor/Minister/Doctor/Vakil sahib asked his son," Come again, which area,Oho... that.., good all are ...*...muslims/biharis/harijans/ tussi-mussi/rajput/...etc there. Its better they fight among themselves and die.Worms! " The son looks at him in disbelief and changes the channel to MTV. He found relief in Roadies....uber cool dudes, hot chicks,same dirty games,mouthing same filth he conversed in...its sort of de-stressing.He is the bhavi karndhaar of the country. 
We don't love family.
We hate when our junior in office wants to go home at 5:30, half hour late !! and we try our best to make his life miserable. If we truly care for our family,we will never make him stay late just to listen our bragging.Spouse/kids are like medals to be shown providing emotional security, a satisfaction of ego and future... Perennially young,radiant wife, topper kids, loving calm parents, gleaming house, Facebook updates of exotic locales... surmise for happy family.

We don't love work.
Most of us are stuck with it for the roti,kapda,makan and hates it with every atom of our being.Naturally we don't get job satisfaction or work pleasure. Lack of intellectual challenge paves way for dirty politics. 

Most of us don't love beauty.
The mining at the heritage sites, crumbling palaces,temples and daragahs,lakes paved with sand for malls, trees cut for hoardings and parks converted into noisy units to build concrete blocks, prove we don't care a copper about beauty,calm or environment.

We simply don't love ourselves.
Is the root of the problem.We are a prejudiced, insecure and contradictory lot...we are disdainful of our people and appreciate them only once awarded by certified body- read foreign universities and agencies.  She says the day we start loving ourselves,love as in Prem not Moh ,the pieces will fall in place. 
Its passion which make us go places, love makes home a safe place.

Our Children:My Vintage Book

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Book :Our Children (Hamare Balak-Balikayen)
Author : Flora H. Williams
Genre`: Non-Fiction
Published by : Oriental Watchman Publishing House, Poona(Pune)
Year : 1946

Its one of the oldest books from my childhood which was sold to my mother by my SDA Mission School.(Refer to the old post about my school here) I clearly remember the day when I woke up from my siesta only to found two of the most fearsome teachers (fearful because they taught the senior classes) along with our hindi teacher,Mrs Tyagi who was only a disciplinarian in comparison, sitting on the edge of my cot .I got a jolt. Anybody would. 
Despite being a rank holder and an almost perfect child, seeing Mission School teachers or any kind of teachers in your house was alarming and offers nothing to be pleased about.
I stealthily opened my eyes ,just a chink, to gauge what was going on.By the tea-cups and cookies on the wooden table, it did not seemed like a chaapa(a raid they sometimes performed appearing at naughty student's doors un-announced) and had it been something bad, I would have not been lying snuggled in the sheet (My mother never differentiated between boys and girls... and I know quite well how it feels when thapki,the cloth washing bat lands on your bums!) behind their backs, while they munched on home-fried chips and daal-moth and chatted with my mother. 

Relieved, I sat up and greeted them. Mrs. Tyagi fondly put her arm around me and uttered some words in my praise! If only she would know what I was thinking two seconds back.But it was not about her. She was a great teacher and now I know her to be a strong and hard working woman.A good person.  
Well,they were at my home to sell some books and collect money for charity and mother had bought two books out of which, one we have here to talk about. 
  
The book is like a modern day guide to parenting as well as for teachers to help them  understand the nuances of a child's psyche. And like all good books, its relevant and useful even today. 
The first chapter is 'Obedience' paving way fro other virtues which are almost non-existent today.It treats the topic objectively by defining and describing it, explaining the early symptoms of stubbornness,the reasons for non-obedience and then, its solutions. The best part is after each topic,related short stories are provided like for the Obedience the two relevant stories are 'Eleventh Time' and 'A Matter Of Life and Death' While the latter has animals as characters for the story,the Eleventh Time deals with a naughty boy Ajeet.
Ajeet,received a new, shiny bicycle as a birthday gift. His house was on a hill and his father warned him against riding the bicycle down the hill as it was too steep.He started riding around and near his house.
 While riding past his home, Ajeet avoided his father as it has become late. His father called him but he pretended as if he had not heard . After 10 rounds father stepped out and called him back, but he insisted and rushed for one more turn. In that eleventh round, the front tyre collided with a big stone at the bend of the road and the cycle turned towards the steep... Ajeet pressed the brakes to no awail as the wheels were rushing madly on their own accord... He fell from the cycle and tumbled over rough stones into a pit .His new cycle was smashed to pieces as well as most of his bones.His disobedience and a petty greed landed him in hospital and made him devoid of his dear gift.His friends felt bad for him but Ajeet had learnt his lesson.

A picture of Happiness for the topic of  Self  -Satisfaction and Self Pride.

The book has 14 such topics and many interesting stories. it makes fro an easy and breezy read fro adults as well as children.The book has the Hindi alphabets made in a style different from today's so is vintage :)


Manners and Humility
The pictures show people from a different era .The faces in the book present a sense of calm and serenity.The lovely ladies with long,shiny braids and sweet smiles make a pretty picture to look at and enhances the rich content  making the book a pleasant read. 
  Goodness Of Mind and Virtues

 There are chapters, incidents and quotes which will definitely ask for your time and provide you with points to ponder and topics for reflection and contemplation.

From the story  'Annual Day' emphasizing about inner happiness and beauty.
 It is a thought provoking book which nudges you gently. It tells us regarding our own behaviour with others and the example we are setting for our children, our expectations from them and how to achieve them.
It emphasizes that its our relationships and the way we deal with the world and life in general which makes our child the way he/she is.
And the book is remarkable for the gentleness of its tone ,another vintage thing in 2014.
An ought to be read book and a MUST to be applied one.

you can find the book HERE