Daniel’s Diary- A Romance in Past and Present

 

Daniel’s Diary by Rajeshwari Chauhan

This book comes as a part of the blog tour by The Book Club. The first thing that attracted me to this book was the stunning book cover and the promise of an historical story set in Mughal era. After reading Susan Kearsley’s Firebird, I was intrigued to read a story which draws parallel with the past, and the novel does show the past in its complete glory.

The Synopsis

 When Mrinalini, an art restoration expert, ventures into the ruins of Rang-Mahal and the Palace of Sumangarh, an accidental discovery of a skeleton and a manuscript detailing the exploits of Daniel, a Portuguese artist, opens a window to the forgotten era of grace and grandeur. The blossoming of love between a Moghul Emperor and a Rajput princess, is seen through the eyes of a foreign traveller, who himself falls in love with Jodhabai.

 The plot revolves around Daniel’s quest for beauty and passion, the ecstasy and agony of love. He marries the famous courtesan Mahamaya only to lose her. It also draws a modern day parallel in the life of Mrinalini, a woman who seeks refuge in artistic pursuits and architectural ruins when relationships in life confuse her.

 Will she and Surajsinh be able to decode the clues left behind by Daniel? Will the curse of centuries-old unfulfilled love break into a happy ending for Mrinalini?

 

The book shows two stories—one happening in modern world, while the other already happened in the past. Mrinalini, an art restoration expert, goes to Sumangarh for her work, and fells for the charm of the ruins and history of the place. During one of her exploratory walks in the ruins, she discovers a skeleton and Daniel’s diary, the account of a Portugese artist who lived during the reign of Akbar. The story then moves through Mrinalini’s search for relationship, and Daniel’s search for passion penned in his diary.

What I Liked

1)   Mughal Era’s story– Let me confess you that I love that era. If you ever gave me a time machine, I’d like to go and see how those people lived. I think I have a love-hate relation with Jodha-Akbar’s story. I never could understand how an immortal love could thrive between them when he had so many wives.  But then, that’s what reels me in. I have devoured literature about them to understand this concept, and this book was no different. I’m not very sure about the history portrayed is correct or not; I read it like another story, like any other fiction.

2)  Diary entries– My second fascination in literature is diary entries and letters. This book was no exception to it. I absolutely loved Mahamaya and Chhimiya in it. Pity they appeared in the last and few pages! My favorite scene was the moth scene in which the romance rises to a crescendo.

What Irked me

1)  Head-hopping telling style of the story– I can see why this style was necessary to condense the story in 359 pages, but I didn’t enjoy the way Mrinalini’s present day story was told. I felt distanced as the sentences jumped from one character to another, without showing any dialogue. This style was once quite famous, but it robs all the joy of even a strong story for me.

2)  Diary Entries– I know I mentioned that I liked them above, but I can like and unlike the same thing, right? My love for diary entries means that my expectations with them are quite high. I loved the way author showed slow wooing and anguish of Jodha-Akbar in these entries, but missed seeing more of Daniel. Although it was a diary of Daniel, much of its beginning entries revolved only around the Mughal Emperor’s story.  I’d have loved them more if they’d been like the later entries which I read twice or thrice.

3)  Incredible Present story incidents– There were a few incredible story scenes with Mrinalini which actually made me laugh. I could see the reason why they were introduced, but they were so filmy that I couldn’t help myself but laugh.

Overall Opinion

I wonder if it was me, or the book really. I liked the story that was in the book, but not the present which was telling the book. As I said above, I felt distanced from the present story characters like Mrinalini and Surajsinh. It left me with an odd dissatisfaction that something more should have been shown in the story.

But, my views aside, Ketan Mehta, a veteran filmmaker, has actually appreciated the novel. It does show the glimpses of that bygone era. Probably it’s my taste for more active novels, or maybe my high expectations, which left me thirsting for something more.  Who knows maybe we’d see its narrative turned into a movie

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The Author’s Thoughts
A freelance writer, artist, and teacher, Rajeshwari Chauhan has contributed as a script and content writer for many creative and promotional literature, short movies, and plays. A passionate artist, she loves to create realistic paintings on canvas as well as doing wall paintings. For her, painting and creative writing are complementary to each other. Being from the Royal family of Chhota-Udepur, she has always had a fascination for history and conservation of heritage.
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Scandalous Again- A Book Review, and a Women’s Day Rant

Scandalous AgainAuthor’s Name: Christina Dodd

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An historical romance novel, I found it at one of the stores. I have always enjoyed Christina Dodd’s brand of romance. She usually mixes that fire of passion and soothing romance quite well. But this book was a bit of disappointment for me, not because it wasn’t well-written, but because I didn’t like the characters. Their qualities felt to me like their vices.

Synopsis

This book starts with the Madeline who just returned from Continent after four years. She comes to know that her father had wagered her and lost her in a gamble. So she, along with her cousin and companion, embarks on a journey to soothe her new  owner. But soon they come to know about The Game of Century, which Madeline thinks her father will attend. In order to save what is left of her fortune(A tiara!), she switches places with her cousin and go to the gambler’s house as a companion.

At the house-party, she meets Gabriel whom she had jilted because he had gambled for the fortune. They both realize that they still love each other, and Madeline sees her mistake.

What I liked

Romance: The chemistry between Gabriel and Madeline is quite good. There were places when I enjoyed reading them together.

What irked me

The Plot Highlights: The plot of the story tries to convince the readers that Madeline was responsible for Gabriel’s younger brother death. Since Gabriel was so lost and forlorn after Madeline left, he didn’t give enough attention to his brother, who lost in gambling and joined navy to avoid confrontation with Gabriel. He finally was buried at the sea. It’s quite a sad story, but as soon as I read this point, I wanted to tear away the pages. Not only Gabriel’s manservant believed it, but by the end, even Madeline was sorry for her actions, and I was like what?!

Gabriel: I might have forgiven him for the above misunderstanding, but he till the end didn’t accepted that he did wrong by gambling. He did realize that Madeline would be angry, but he decided to soothe her with his body. Another what?! point for me. Till the end, I was hoping that he’ll apologize and explain the necessity, but he remained heavy-handed and egoistic throughout. He kept on blaming heroine for being controlling, when he himself wasn’t ready to give up his control.

Overall Opinion

It is a good book. Though not the best of Dodd’s work,  it has everything a historical book should have, but I didn’t enjoy it because of its too heavy handed plot. It in fact made me feel melancholy and induced the rant below.

Ratings

Two Stars

 Thoughts Beyond the Book

This was not supposed to be a rant. But somehow, after reading the book, I couldn’t stop myself from writing this. As I finished this book, I was left wondering that how many times we unnecessarily blame women for every mishappening. This not only include males, but females too.

This is specifically true in Indian cases. Something wrong happens with a child, the first person who is blamed is the mother. A boy commits suicide in despair because his love got rejected, the girl becomes heartless. A man commits crime because to fulfill the material demands of his wife. The houses break due to the uncompromising nature of woman.  Oh, and let us not forget that whole Mahabharata happened because of a woman.

This is not a complaint to anyone—not to the author, neither to my readers. Nor this is a confession. Because I’m guilty of doing this, and I  am also guilty of accepting such blames without any fight. So, no, this is not a grudge as well. It’s just a thought, a consciousness that yes, I have been doing this. Acceptance is the first step towards change, right?

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

ianBook’s Name: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

Author’s Name: Jennifer Ashley

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I am Historical Romance fanatic. There was a time when I’d read five historical romance novels a day. I’d go on reading and reading and reading.  This was the first genre I started reading as an adult, and I think it’s a genre which left the deepest impact on me.  I still fall back to the genre whenever I’m too tired of all the other books or life in general. 

Anyway, it’s difficult to surprise me with a Historical Romance, but the hero with Asperger’s Syndrome  did surprise me.

Synopsis

Mad Lord Ian Mackenzie has been in asylum for most of his young life. Sometime later, when he has been released from asylum and have settled in the society, he meets a young Widow, Beth. They fall in lust almost instantly, and Ian manages to woo her into an affair ( an marriage too). But the plot hinges on a murder mystery, and the fact that Ian believes that he gets fits of rages. He doesn’t allow Beth to come too near because she might get burned by these rages.

The best part of the plot was that nobody was actually sure if Ian’s Mad or not– not his brothers, not the world, and not he himself.

What I liked

Ian Mackenzie– An amazing character, and the one who carries the book on his shoulders. He’s one of the few historical character with flaws. He suffers from Asperger’s syndrome and is considered quite mad. I had wondered how the author will manage to show his POV, but that’s also quite well done. The following quote from the book is what I felt when I read his POV.

The trouble with Ian Mackenzie’s questions was that he asked the unanswerable. And yet she should know how to answer—everyone should. But they couldn’t, because everyone simply knew. Everyone except Ian.

Ian Mackenzie- Wait, writing it twice won’t express that I loved him, or will it?

Ian Mackenzie- I am wondering if writing it three times will mean that the hero was absolutely adorable.

Ming Vases– A very different and unique hobby,  collecting Ming vases. Though Ian’s obsession with them feel quite real, I liked it for the way it’s portrayed in the book. I could feel Ian’s desire for the Ming Vase  was like my own desire for a certain book.

What irked me

Love at first sight–  One day, I’ll get the hang of the logic behind the love at first sight, but till then I’ll keep it in the “What Irked Me” list. 

Sequel Characters–  I believe in one set of characters for a book. Unless it’s masterfully handled, when the whole family and their stories are introduced, it distracts me to no end. 

Letters to herself– I’m a person who is in love with letters and diary entries. I don’t find anything more touching than the romance via words. But the diary entries by Beth, the heroine, felt like a filler to me, or may be a way to add in some sex to the story.

Overall Opinion

Despite the above mentioned things I didn’t like, I think one should read the book if only to sample the craziness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. Did I already say that I loved him as a hero?

Rating

Four Stars