Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Sweet Tale

I must always have a book with me. Before iPhone, if I did not happen to have a book with me, I  was  inclined to grab whatever reading materials  that  were available at the store or place where  I was  and start reading them.

I carry books in my car. When my children were growing up, in between errands and children’s tuitions, music lessons and school pick ups, I tried to snatch some minutes just to read the fiction that I happened to be reading at the time. After a day’s work and the in-between errands, when I was  tired and unable to string sentences together, I would usually read  something that  I could dive in and out of.
Those  books that I used to devour  had to be  quick reads, one of those novels where the plot is fast moving as I only had a few moments between parking  and the children getting into the car.

I enjoy chick-lits as they are playful and delightful.

I do not read books about empowering women or how to be a leader or get rich. When I was into baking and dreamt about becoming a food critic, I read memoirs by  Ruth Reichl such as Garlic and Sapphire, Comfort Me with Apple  and as  a  Francophile, I enjoy reading autobiographies  such as My Life in France  written by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme, Merde Actually by Stephen Clarke,   A Year in Provence, a memoir written by Peter Mayle, Almost French by Sarah Turnbull  and many fun and  good reads written by prolific writers. 
These days  I have the luxury of reading books that are amongst literary prize contenders, short list or long list or the reads that are seemingly worthy of discussion at a book club though I have never belonged to one , but not limited to chick-lits or beach reads that do not tax my work and chores -weary minds.

A month ago, I picked up a book by Cecelia Ahern whose fictions I have never read. After reading One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern,  I find that I no longer enjoy so much sweet tales with happy endings though the book is a page turner.  

In One Hundred Names, Kitty is a journalist who spent the past few years chasing the big scoops regardless of  the consequences. Then she made a terrible mistake for the television show Thirty Minutes  she worked on the previous year and ended herself in a scandal. Kitty is grateful that Etcetera, the magazine founded and edited by her mentor, Constance continues to employ her. Constance has passed on and Kitty has been given one final chance to write the assignment that might  save her career. She has to write a tribute  piece based on one hundred names provided by Constance. Kitty meets some extraordinary people as she contacts the people on the list.

The story begins with the following paragraph:

She was nicknamed The Graveyard. Any secret, any piece of confidential information, personal or otherwise, that went in never, ever came back out. You knew you were safe; you knew you would never be judged on, if you were it would be silently, so you’d never know. She was perfectly named with a birth name that meant consistency and fortitude, and she was appropriately nicknamed; she was solid, permanent and steady, stoic but oddly comforting. Which is why visiting her in this place was all the more agonising. And it was agonising, not just mentally challenging; Kitty felt a physical pain in her chest more specifically in her heart, that began with the thought of having to go, grew with the reality of actually being there, and then worsened with the knowledge that it wasn’t a dream, it wasn’t a false alarm, this was life in its rawest form. A life that had been challenged, and would subsequently be lost, to death.'

One Hundred Names is a sweet tale. One  of the central themes of the novel resonates with me . If you were to randomly pick one hundred names from a phone directory, you will find one hundred stories simply because everybody, every single person , has a story to tell.

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