Book Review: The Temp by Michelle Frances

temp 1Looking for suspenseful stories with strong female characters who are not breathing down each other’s neck all the time, Michelle Frances’ The Temp is for you.

For me, the main attraction of this book is its cover (a lady working on her laptop at a workplace) and the title. Not only that, I also like the synopsis. (Side note: I always go through the synopsis to get a little insight about the story before purchasing a book.)

Apparently, it appears a thriller with undertones of domestic drama where talented young woman is looking to replace a successful older woman. The narrative is told from the perspectives of two women: Carrie and Emma who have different views of each other but there is one constant in their life, Adrian, of course for different reasons.

Carrie, in her 40s, has a successful career as a producer of television programmes. She comes across a very strong, confident and smart lady in her domain. Her husband Adrian is also an award winning screenwriter in the television industry. They are content in their professional and personal lives but life takes an unusual turn which completely jolts them.

As a couple, Carrie and Adrian decide not to have children; primarily because they both want to focus on their career. However, fate has something else stored for them; Carrie gets pregnant and the problem arises when she chooses to keep the baby, and this puts her relationship with her husband off balance.

Moreover, they are prepared to start a new show which needs time and with this pregnancy, Adrian and her friend as well as managing director of Hawks Pictures Liz suggest to hire a replacement for few months. This is where Emma enters as a temp who is intelligent; and despite coming from a well off family, she has always struggled to be the daughter on whom her parents can be proud of. What is interesting is that Carrie never wants Emma to be employed as her replacement.

the tempBeing pregnant, Carrie cannot stay in the office for long duration due to pain and dizziness. Insanity and jealousy run rampage on Carrie’s part especially when Adrian, Liz and everyone in the office are all praise about Emma’s work.  The last nail in the coffin for Carrie is the birth of her newborn baby boy Rory. Her baby keeps her busy all the time and since she has no support from Adrian, she begins to drift away from her husband and her colleagues. As a consequence, she feels isolated and subconsciously put all the blame on Emma. Carrie does not realise that this is all work of her creative mind (pun intended).

British-based author Frances has established herself as a mature, knowing and new voice in the genre of psychological thriller with her bestseller The Girlfriend. Her debut novel took on the issues of unforgiveable lies and twisted relationships. Her second book deals with the relationships caught in the crossfire of all scheming and manipulation.

I do understand that the author has shown some sort of conflict between two female protagonists. Also, the book cover gives an impression to the reader of Emma being conniving who wants to usurp Carrie’s life, which is why both women will compete over Carrie’s husband Adrian. Clearly, this is not all! The book offers much more to the reader’s delight.

If you want to read full review, the link is https://www.dawn.com/news/1471385

 

 

 

To-do or not to-do

to do listMonday is start of the week. And after weekend, this is the day we all dread for different reasons; be it work, university, school or household chores. For past few days, I was all over the place and it is because I was doing everything on an impulse.

Therefore, I have decided to write a to-do list which will help organise my day. I used to follow this ritual before but then I left it.

Several studies have revealed that people perform better when they have written down what they need to do. This is because once you write down the tasks that you need to do, you are clear in your mind.

The best part is the internal satisfaction you get when you cross them one-by-one.

According to psychologists, writing a to-do list lessens anxiety, gives you a plan that you can stick to and is proof of what you can achieve that day.

To-do list is different from time table. You are not bound by time. You do things according to your own convenience. This is easy to follow compared to time table.

Here is to a new start and hope this will help structure your day as well as your life.

What do you think about to-do list? How much does this help you in organising your day? Share your answers in the comment section.

Jealousy Can Ruin Healthy Relationship

othelloOthello is one of the classics of William Shakespeare. What I like most about this play is the theme of jealousy depicted in the play, and is still relevant in the modern world.

Othello is a great and wise man, except for his blindness of thought and the rashness of action caused by his jealousy. He becomes angry when he sees a very small possibility of his wife, Desdemona’s infidelity.

Also, Roderigo is jealous of Othello’s marriage with Desdemona and he is blinded by his obsessive passion for Desdemona. However, it is Othello’s jealousy that brings about the destruction and tragedy in his otherwise happily married life.

The other theme more prominent is the psychological manipulation of Iago. He is the one who instigates Othello against his wife and loyal friend Cassio.

The foundation of healthy relationship is based on trust and sincerity. There is no room of jealousy in a stable relation. Jealousy is powerful. It can ruin relationships and make good, well-meaning people act in ways they never imagined like the heroic character of Othello.

Jealousy can make spouses abusive or in extreme cases, a killer. It’s important that partners should have open communication so that no one dares to sow the seed of jealousy or create misunderstanding in their relation.

Americanah: A Tale Of Race, Love And Home

“The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. Weamericanah all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue. I didn’t think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America.”

The excerpt is from Adiche’s renowned novel Americanah. This is a powerful story about love, race and immigration. Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman living in Princeton, New Jersey, decides to move back to Nigeria after a breakup from her boyfriend Blaine. It was ten years ago when Ifemulu came to America from her home country Nigeria. During this period, she faced a lot of difficulties. The foremost obstacle was her skin colour.

In Nigeria, race was not an issue for Ifemelu, and she was never called black in Lagos; she was Nigerian. Upon arriving in the United States, she was shocked to discover that she had been labeled black; especially a non-American black. This made her start her own blog where she addressed issues related to race.

Other than that, the love story between Ifemulu and her teenage sweetheart Obinze is riveting. Their love story witnessed many ups and downs. During Ifemulu’s stay in the US, she suffered from depression and this became the reason of her detachment from Obinze. Later Obinze married Kosi and Ifemulu dated Curt and Blaine. But when Ifemulu came back to Nigeria, their love reignited. The author knows how to touch the heart chords of her readers. There is yearning for love which is engrossing.

Moreover, the author has also shown the importance of family values and blood relation in this story. Education is also central theme of this novel.

Rate: 4.5/5.

Ready To Take That Leap?

life hope 1

At times, we hold on to people for so long; not realising that this may be suffocating the relationship. The fact is what is meant for us will not go away and what is not, let it go. Set yourself and them free so that you may see the bigger plan that Almighty has made for you.

We do know that this is going nowhere but we keep on lingering because we hope that one day things will turn in our favour. We pray and still see no result. We feel disheartened and want to shout and cry. I reckon there is nothing wrong to feel sad. It’s normal. However, nobody can understand our tears more than Almighty Allah. Indeed He is Al-Aleem (The All-Knowing, The Omniscient). He is aware of all things, even before they happen.

It’s true that brokenness and desperation lead us to finally let go to Allah and admit powerlessness. Faith is the only way that can bring us out from darkness. Believe that He can heal all wounds. We only need to embark on the journey for true surrender to the Will of Almighty Allah. It’s not an easy path. We may falter and lose. Knowing how difficult this may be, the question is, are we ready to take that leap? Am I ready to take that leap?

Khaani: A Tale Of Love And Repentance

 

Khaani 2

Few days ago, I binge watched Pakistani drama ‘Khaani’. To my surprise, the story was a true delight. What stood out was Feroz Khan’s performance as Mir Hadi. The story revolves around Hadi who killed Khaani’s brother Sarim in a heated moment. The only mistake Sarim made that he came in Mir Hadi’s way which made him furious and within a second Hadi took out his gun and shot Sarim. After that Khaani registered FIR against Mir Hadi but due to influential background of his father, he got away with the murder. In the meantime Hadi felt in love with Khaani because she showed him courage and didn’t waver in front of him.

Hadi tried to persuade Khaani into marriage but she refused, causing Hadi to forcefully get betrothed to her. khaaniThis led Khaani and her family to run away. Hadi searched for her everywhere and later found her getting married to her boss, Arham. Mir Hadi kidnapped Khaani on her wedding day, but due to Khaani’s words, he let her go. Hadi realised that he is not good enough for Khaani. Hadi started seeking the meaning behind his feelings. He found tranquility at Sufi shrine which also became his abode. In the end, the case was reopened and this time Hadi declared himself guilty and requested for death penalty.

Feroz Khan has been phenomenal in this drama. Few scenes like when he drops Khaani to her 2-sliders-3house after her abduction and comes back to his own home, he cries badly. Also, the scenes of his quest to find true love and his journey of spirituality are spellbinding. It is heartbreaking to see Hadi helpless in front of his love. Each and every scene of Feroz was magnificent. 

While watching this drama, I felt as I was on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Therefore, if you have no plans on this weekend, I recommend you to watch Khaani. Especially for Feroz Khan and the story. I am sure you will love both.

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

handmaid tale

Photo by writer

It took me a while to digest Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. When I first start reading this novel, I had no clue what world I was about to discover and let me tell you it was all doom and gloom. The storyline was disturbing and stayed with me for days.

The Canadian author has hit all the right buttons to stir up the reader’s uneasiness. The dystopian world she describes in the novel is stark and skewed by religious fundamentalism. Written in 1985, the story revolves around Offred, a handmaid (female slave) in the new Republic of Gilead. The Gilead was formed after attacks on US government. The totalitarian state that took control has rigid laws against women. Women rights like equality, sexual reproduction rights and general human rights are deemed punishable by the men of the society. The fictional world has food rationing, class hierarchy and public hangings for wrongdoing especially for women. Does this ring a bell?

Offred (not the real name) is part of class called the handmaids. The purpose of handmaid in the society is to conceive and bear children for the families. They are dressed in red colour and symbolism of fertility. Women here are only considered for childbirth and taking care of household. The Commander, where she lives as handmaiden, sees her as more than simply a surrogate.  Serena Joy, the Commander’s wife, is naturally jealous of Offred, but she is desperate for a child so, when Offred fails to become pregnant, Serena Joy arranges for her to sleep with Nick, the chauffeur.

margaret atwood

Photo by writer

Offred is reluctant to accept this world and she cannot suppress her desires. This is why she thinks about her past life and how one day she can leave this dark world. The end of the story leaves you in suspense of whether Offred has found the freedom or prison.

The narration is very erratic as it jumps between past and present, and at times makes you confused due to obscure description. It is what author has emphasised to show in the novel. She wants readers to be perplexed while reading the novel because the world of Gilead is extremely disturbing and secretive.

The story is about power, fundamentalism and misogyny. It’s horrific but somewhat true to reality. I felt hopelessness and sadness while reading this story.

A word of caution: This is not a happy read. So if you want to have a nice weekend, do not pick this novel.

“Remember forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest. Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn’t really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven.” – Excerpt from book

The Handmaid’s Tale

By Margaret Atwood

Vintage Fiction, London

ISBN: 978-1-0-099-74091-9

320pp.