1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors,where men and women are kept apart by high walls and barred windows, there is a ballroom vast and beautiful. For one bright evening every week they come together and dance. When John and Ella meet it is a dance that will change two lives forever.
Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, The Ballroom is a historical love story. It tells a page-turning tale of dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.
Publisher: Black Swan
Robert Murphy was in the prime of his career as an anthropologist when he felt the first symptom of a malady that would ultimately take him on an odyssey stranger than any field trip to the Amazon: a tumor of the spinal cord that progressed slowly and irreversibly into quadriplegia. In this gripping account, Murphy explores society’s fears, myths, and misunderstandings about disability, and the damage they inflict. He reports how paralysis like all disabilities assaults people’s identity, social standing, and ties with others, while at the same time making the love of life burn even more fiercely.
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company;
“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer.”
This is Susie Salmon. Watching from heaven, Susie sees her happy, suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But life is not quite finished with Susie yet . . . The Lovely Bones is a luminous and astonishing novel about life and death, forgiveness and vengeance, memory and forgetting – but, above all, about finding light in the darkest of places.
“Mary Anne Schwalbe is waiting for her chemotherapy treatments when Will casually asks her what she’s reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they are reading the same books so they can have something to talk about in the hospital waiting room. Their choices range from classic (Howards End) to popular (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), from fantastic (The Hobbit) to spiritual (Jon Kabat-Zinn), with many in between. We hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their intimate and searching discussions. A profoundly moving testament to the power of love between a child and parent, and the power of reading in our lives.”
Publisher: Two Roads
Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Beginning with Emma’s marriage, Aurora shows how difficult and loving she can be. The movie covers several years of their lives as each finds different reasons to go on living and find joy. Aurora’s interludes with Garrett Breedlove, retired astronaut and next door neighbor are quite striking. In the end, different people show their love in very different ways.
Producers: James L. Brooks
Director: James L. Brooks
Writer: James L. Brooks
The best time-travel story since H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, by the Grand Master of science fiction, the story of Andrew Harlan, Technician and Eternal.
Andrew Harlan’s job is to range through past and present centuries monitoring and even altering Time’s myriad cause-and-effect relationships.
As a Technician with the Allwhen Council, he initiates Reality Changes that may affect the lives of as many as fifty billion people – and a million or more of them may be so drastically affected as to be considered new individulas. Above all, therefore, a Technician must be dispassionate. An emotional make-up is a distinct handicap. Then Harlan meets Noÿs and falls victim to a phenomenon older than Time itself – love.
Years of self-discipline are cast aside as Harlan uses the awesome techniques of the Eternals to twist Time so that he and Noÿs might survive… together.
One summer night at a teenage house party, Fred met Cati.Though they barely spoke, he vividly remembers her gracefulness juxtaposed with a wonderful, wild abandon. They meet again at a New Year’s Party in 1999, and this time their connection is instantaneous. A few weeks later, when it looks like things might get serious, a very nervous Cati tells him that she and her three-year-old son are both HIV positive. With great beauty and economy, Peeters’ traces the development of their emotional and sexual intimacy. The silver lining in their lives is the wonderful, down-to-earth doctor whose affection and frankness allow them to confront their fears about sex and fully realize their passionate connection. But when Cati’s son gets sick and they have to administer a gruelling treatment (including the blue pills of the title), Fred comes face to face with death. His questions about life, love and illness are played out in a Socratic dialogue with a (very wise) mammoth who ultimately helps him to recognize that living with illness is also a gift; it has freed him to savour his life with Cati.
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
I enjoyed this graphic novel. Frank and insightful in it’s handling of relationships against the background of HIV in the age of HAART. I do like the way graphic novels allow new ways of expressing inner thoughts.
Wuthering Heights is a gothic novel, and the only novel by Emily Brontë. The narrative tells the tale of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet thwarted, love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them.
This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts. At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves. Innovative, punchy and tender, “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit” is a few days ride into the bizarre outposts of religious excess and human obsession.
“Cry the Beloved Country” is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its contemporaneity, unforgettable for character and incident, “Cry, the Beloved Country” is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.
Author: Paton, Alan
Title: Cry, the beloved country
Essential reading for anyone going to Africa. As a political statement it has long been taken over by events but the themes of forgiveness redemption and restoration remain. Set not far from the Charles Johnson hospital in Zululand which at one time did much to foster the ideals expressed in the book. The first couple of pages are classic writing.
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new
possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissidence; even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. Nineteen Eight-Four is George Orwells terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.
Author: Orwell, George
Title: Nineteen eighty four
Publisher: M & S Press
In a memoir by turns brilliant and exasperating, Rose, who teaches philosophy in England, travels between the adjoining territories of love and death after being diagnosed with-and receiving brutal and ambiguously effective treatment for-abdominal cancer. “Keep your mind in hell, and despair not,” he admonishes herself, rejecting both the uncertain certainties of traditional medicine and the sterile idealism of New Age healing. Instead, she puts her shoulder to the wheel of “love’s work,” getting down in the muck of mortal experience rather than training futilely to rise above it. Along the way, Rose discusses such worldly subjects as growing up with dyslexia and divorce, finding relief from deadening school lessons on Plato and Pascal and sharing a bed with a Catholic priest. She doesn’t wear her extravagant learning lightly (Greek- and German-studded passages and the constant reaching for aphorism may alarm the uninitiated), but her unusual love story rewards the labor it demands. It cuts to the quick.
Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, fastidious college professor. He also likes little girls. And none more so than Lolita, who he’ll do anything to possess. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? …Or is he all of these?
Jonathan Lloyd HYMS: themes – obsession, lust, love, boundaries of acceptable behaviour in society, consent, inappropriate sexual relationships.
This work is a personal testimony from Kay Redfield Jamison: the revelation of her struggle with manic depression since adolescence, and how it has shaped her life. The book follows her through college, a love affair, her battle with the illness, bouts of madness, violence and attempted suicide.
A young woman is in love with a successful surgeon, a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing. His mistress, a free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals—while her other lover, earnest, faithful, and good, stands to lose everything because of his noble qualities. In a world where lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and fortuitous events, and everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence we feel “the unbearable lightness of being.”
Author: Kundera, Milan
Title: The unbearable lightness of being
In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the countryside and into his past . . . A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro’s beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House, of lost causes and lost love.
Jonathan Lloyd HYMS:- themes social class, professionalism, relationships, unrequited love, ageing – beautifully written, also made into a film.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is set in the early days of the second world war, before Benito Mussolini invaded Greece. Dr Iannis practices medicine on the island of Cephalonia, accompanied by his daughter, Pelagia, to whom he imparts much of his healing art. Even when the Italians do invade, life isn’t so bad–at first anyway. The officer in command of the Italian garrison is the cultured Captain Antonio Corelli, who responds to a Nazi greeting of “Heil Hitler” with his own “Heil Puccini”, and whose most precious possession is his mandolin. It isn’t long before Corelli and Pelagia are involved in a heated affair–despite her engagement to a young fisherman, Mandras, who has gone off to join Greek partisans. Love is complicated enough in wartime, even when the lovers are on the same side. And for Corelli and Pelagia, it becomes increasingly difficult to negotiate the minefield of allegiances, both personal and political, as all around them atrocities mount, former friends become enemies and the ugliness of war infects everyone it touches.
Author: De Bernieres, Louis
Title: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Publisher: London : Vintage
Widely regarded as the world’s first modern novel, and one of the funniest and most tragic books ever written, Don Quixote chronicles the famous picaresque adventures of the noble knight-errant Don Quixote de La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain.
Jonathan Lloyd HYMS: themes madness, eccentricity, duty, chivalry, friendship, ageing.