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Made In Heaven - Review

We're coming up to the last week of the summer, but there's still time to get away and enjoy the last of the warm weather. And if you do, I know the perfect read for you to relax with. SYNOPSIS: When modern-language graduate Hema, orphaned and unloved from a young age, applies for a job one summer as an au pair to a little girl in the South of France, she doesn't imagine how her life will change as a result. Her employer, Rahul Raichura, is handsome, rich and charming. Her charge, Amelie, is sweet and loving. Hema thinks perhaps she has found the family she lacked, growing up; but first she has to contend with disapproval, secrets, and bitter memories.  REVIEW: This Jane Eyre-inspired romance with an Indian flavour will make the perfect light beach read for fans of Saz Vora’s other novels. Its more serious themes such as family loyalty, responsibility, and living with a disfigurement, are not laboured too much. Instead, they are woven around the passionate love story
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Cut from the Same Cloth? Muslim Women on Life in Britain

So many times while reading this book I found myself nodding and saying ‘YES!’ I hadn’t realised how very rarely I come across a book, writers, voices, that speak to the entirety of my existence as a British Muslim woman; finding that book, those voices, was like letting out a breath I’d been holding, or feeling the relief of relaxing aching facial muscles that had been stretched in a smile all day. There was no need to pretend, no need to explain, no need to justify. What made this anthology of essays so different from the usual ones, was that they are not teaching or preaching, nor do they try to cater to an external gaze. These are British Muslim women writing their experiences and thoughts for women like themselves; women like ME. The essays in this book have been collected by Sabeena Akhtar, and include pieces by figures such as Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, Shaista Aziz, Yvonne Ridley and others. All of them are different in tone, style, and subject – some are academic or discursive, o

Five Strong Fictional Mothers

This time last year we were all in the first lockdown situation. Many of us were unable to go and visit our mothers but thankfully modern technology meant we could still keep in touch. This time around, hopefully more of us will be able to go and see our mothers - though there might still be a restriction on hugs. In the meantime, let’s talk about mothers in books. Here are my top fictional mums (in no particular order): 1.        Marmee, Little Women Marmee is the quintessentially perfect mother. She’s strongminded, principled, and teaches her girls the values she wants them to grow up with. As matriarchs go, she’s probably the most iconic one. Even if she comes across as a little preachy some of the time. OK, a lot of the time.   2.        Marilla, Anne of Green Gables Even though Marilla isn’t Anne’s biological mother, she provides all the love and stability that Anne has missed in her childhood before coming to Green Gables. She starts off being rather stiff and strict

Poets & Purple Ink in the Pink City: Jaipur Journals Review

Synopsis: Authors, poets and academics gather together at the Jaipur Literature Festival to share their work and to bask in the adulation of fans. Rudrani Rana is both a fan and a writer, and brings her work in progress in a canvas bag to the festival: a manuscript of a novel, titled ‘UNSUBMITTED’. Not just any manuscript, however: this is something Rudrani has revised and rewritten over the course of most of her life, until only one sentence remains unchanged: ‘my body is a haunted house.’ Perhaps this will be the time she actually submits the great work of her life. Review: The book follows Rudrani and a small cast of other characters as their paths intersect and they experience their own epiphanies and life-changing moments at the festival. Anyone who has been to a literature festival or other literary event will recognise the descriptions of the performances, the panel discussions, the audiences. But this one seems to be a microcosm of the world outside, and the connections forge

St George of Merrie England: History, Myth and Fairy Tale

Today - 23rd April - is St George's Day . Most of us are aware of St George's Mediterranean and Middle Eastern origins; Google says he was born to Greek parents but in fact his mother was from Syria and his father from what is now Anatolia, right in the middle of modern-day Turkey. Not much else is known about him other than that he was a soldier in the Roman army who was martyred for being Christian.  He is also venerated in the traditions of different cultures and faiths, including in some Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. The idea of patron saints is an interesting one to me - I've always thought that the fact that these saints hail from different parts of the world to the countries they are patron saints of, is a bit of a paradox. On the one hand their cultural and ethnic differences are overlooked in favour of the unifying aspect of their faith and values - but on the other hand, patron saints are a symbol of nationhood - and often co-opted by nationalists.

Chatting with Kate Morrison, Author: A Book of Secrets

Something special on the blog today, readers: I'm thrilled to be chatting to Kate Morrison, author of stunning debut A Book of Secrets, as part of its Random Things Tour. Join us as we talk about historical research, women's independence and racism in Elizabethan England. "A Book of Secrets is the story of a woman named Susan Charlewood living in Elizabethan England. Born in what is now Ghana, Susan is enslaved by the Portuguese but later rescued by British sailors, who bring her to England. Once in England, she is raised in an English Cathoic household. When Susan comes of age, the family marry her off to an older Catholic man, John Charlewood. Charlewood runs a printing press and uses it to supply the Papist nobility with illegal Catholic texts and foment rebellion amongst the Catholic underclass. When Charlewood, Susan takes over the business and uses her new position to find out more about her origins.  A look at racial relationships at the beginning of the eve of the

50 Years of Bangladesh

 Today is the 50th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh. Growing up, my sisters and I would hear stories from parents and relatives about the War of Independence of 1971. We would go to community events commemorating Bangladesh Independence Day, Victory Day, Language Martyrs Day, and listen to veterans and members of the community who lived through that period, talking about their experiences. As they stood in front of rows of nodding elders and bored schoolchildren, the pain and pride in their voices rumbled through the microphone in their hands and filled the small community hall, along with the aroma of biryani stacked in boxes at the back, waiting to be handed round later.     Although we often had mixed feelings about sitting through those three-hour programmes, I've begun to realise that those parents who dragged their children along to those events knew that one day there would be nobody left alive who had witnessed that history.     As second or third generation di