A.R Sara

A breezy & intense eternal teen with a zest for the here and the now

Category: Musings

Biryani – with a twist

I have meticulously typed up this recipe after keenly observing my mom make the famed traditional dish with a difference. Coconut milk lends a unique and rich flavor to the popular dish with a mouth watering twist. Follow the instructions carefully. Share your feedback if you get to try it. 🙂

Ingredients:

Refined Oil – 2 tablespoons
Maggi Magic Cubes – 2 (Chicken or Vegetable)

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Whole spices for tempering:

Cardamom – 4 pods
Anise petals/seeds – 4
Cinnamon sticks – 5 small
Bay leaves – 2
Cloves – 5 (Not shown in the pic…but don’t miss including this ingredient)
Saump/Fennel Seeds – 1 full teaspoon
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Vegetables for tempering:

Green Chillies – 3 (split in 2s)
Large Onion chopped lengthwise – 1
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Large tomatoes chopped – 2
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Ginger Garlic paste – 1 full teaspoon
Mint/Pudina leaves – 1 cup, lightly shredded
Coriander leaves with stems – 1 cup, lightly shredded
Coconut – Half a Coconut frgrated
Biryani long grain rice – 1 large measuring cup + 1 medium measuring cup. Washed and drained.
Lime juice – 1 tablespoon freshly extracted.

Extracting Coconut Milk:

Use a blender/mixer/grinder to thoroughly grind the grated coconut. Drain it to extract fresh coconut milk. Use water to extract milk properly. Use the same large measuring cup you used for measuring rice to measure the extracted coconut milk. If it is less then 3 measuring cups add water to dilute it, till you get three large measuring cups of coconut milk. The amount of rice used here requires 3 parts liquid. Keep aside the coconut milk in a bowl.
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Marinating chicken or plant based alternative or mutton:

Chicken or Mutton or Plant based alternative cut into cubes – 1/2 Kg
Ginger garlic paste – 2 full teaspoons
Curd/Yoghurt – 4 tablespoons
Garam masala powder – 1 teaspoon
Red Chilli powder – 2 teaspoon
Salt – as appropriate. Add salt only in case of Chicken. Else don’t add salt at this point. Adding salt to marinate mutton, can make it rubbery.
Mix all the ingredients and freeze for a minimum of 2 hours.

Yoghurt/Curd Chutney:

Finely chopped tomatoes – 1/2 cup
Finely chopped green chillies – 1/2 cup

Finely chopped green chillies – 1 teaspoon

Yoghurt/Curd – 1 cup
Salt to taste

Cooking Procedure:

1.Heat oil in a large pressure cooker.
2.Add anise seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves and stir.
3. After a few seconds add Saump/Fennel seeds and stir.
4. After few seconds add onions and chillies and stir.
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5. After about a minute or two once the onions turn translucent and start becoming lightly golden, add the ginger garlic paste and stir.
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5. After a few seconds add the chopped tomatoes.
6. Add the marinated chicken or mutton or the plant based alternative
7. Blend all thoroughly.
8. Add coriander and pudina/mint and mix.
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9. Close the cooker lid without the weight. Let it simmer for 15 to 20 mins till the Chicken or Mutton or the Plant based alternative is cooked and tender.
10. Add the extracted coconut milk
11. Add the washed and drained rice
12. Add lime juice
13. Bring to a boil
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14. Close cooker lid. Place the pressure cooker weight on top
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15. Cook on high flame. Immediately are the after the second whistle on the cooker sounds, switch off the stove
16. Let it sit for 20 to 30 mins till the pressure completely leaves
17. Remove the weight. It should come off easily since there is no pressure. Open the lid and gently stir the Biryani.
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18. Serve hot with Yoghurt/Curd chutney on the side.

 

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Puppy Chronicles – Detective leanings

The morning walking ritual has been evolving and I have been making a few interesting observations. Every time the garbage pickup person makes an appearance with the waste segregation cart, a rather strange transformation comes over Sally. Her body stiffens and her gait turns purposeful and she begins straining on the leash. I decided to humour her and follow her every time I have seen this happening the last few days, during our morning walk, to see what she is upto.
She makes it a point to follow the garbage pickup person and the old rickety cart from behind. From a safe and discreet distance of course. Every time the garbage man stops so does Sally. When the cart turns, Sally smoothly turns her attention to some shrub or anything near by and resorts to sniffing, with a seemingly practiced cool air of nonchalance. When the garbage pickup person is on the move again down the street so is Sally without missing a beat. But she has made no attempt to get closer to the garbage cart for further investigations yet. With a frown on her tiny forehead and a gaze keen, curiosity becomes her. It is only when the garbage pickup is done in the block does she relax and go back to being and behaving like a puppy being taken for a walk.  Whether she suspects any non-compliance of proper waste segregation rules or something more intriguing…only time will tell. She has all the makings of a detective, don’t you think?🤪

Here’s a pic that seems to bear testimony to her detective leanings. SallyBoo’s shadow bears an uncanny yet incredible resemblance to ScoobyDoo!
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Memories of a leaf

Memories of a leaf
An impression that speaks.
A story it tells.
Of a journey that never ends.
Meaning it seeks.
Carried far by sand and rain.
Set free from life’s chain.
Lifted by a steady breeze.
Like a drifting feather.
Floated devoid of  direction.
Its friends on its side.
Took turns to greet the ground.
Faded away one by one.
The lone leaf persisted.
Leaving its testimony in sand.
Not erased on land.
To be cherished.
As a leafy memory.
To stay green forever.
#leafmemories

 

 

Copyright © 2018 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani

A trip to Haziq & Mohi Rare Books Shop

Few years ago a random post on an online book club grabbed my eye and my interest. One that persistently drew my thoughts back to the subject of that post, even weeks later.
The post had been about a shop that stocked old and rare books. An antiquarian bookseller. I loved the sound of that.

Being a self-proclaimed connoisseur of books, not just for the words within, but also the look, texture and smell, I could not resist digging in, to find more information about this book store.
Online searches revealed something riveting. The shop boasted of distinguished clientele from across the world. Scholars, academicians, book collectors, authors, historians and libraries from all over, were some of its customers. My interest spiked as I read that the renowned historian and writer, William Dalrymple had visited this book shop. A shop he had apparently stumbled upon by chance. This was around the time he was looking for research material, which he eventually sourced from this shop for his critically acclaimed bestseller “White Mughals.”  I was intrigued and excited to say the least and grew determined to pay a visit to this place. I was thrilled to find out the shop was located in my hometown. The desire to visit the book store grew. During the next visit to Hyderabad, on the very second day, I set out to find the place.
Google map showed the location as somewhere near Charminar, which happens to be a familiar landmark since childhood. Little did I realize it will turn into a mini adventure of sorts to locate the elusive book shop.
Google map displayed a message, indicating I had reached the destination while all I could see were odd shops all around me, nothing stocking anything close to books as I stood perplexed at the crossroads, in the vicinity of the majestic Charminar.

I went in search of an elusive book store,
Intrigued by its surrounding lore,
Located in a faraway place yet near,
Internet claimed it was not a bookshop mere,
Google welcomed me to a place I could not find,
Was this place real or just in my mind?

I found myself going in circles as I explored the area carefully. The object of my search was nowhere in sight. A sense of the surreal gripped me. I could not help but feel that the world moved at a different pace here. The quaint looking shops selling curios, perfumes and other bric-a-bracs, right down to the people, their gaits, clothes…all hinted at a place that had soaked up ages of history.
I crossed a narrow street lined with rusty cages filled with birds of all sorts. Mostly pigeons, ginny fowl and crows. A strange and curious assortment of birds. All of which cackled, clucked and cawed in unison at the sight of me. Whether they were helping me find my way with their birdie say, that was incomprehensible to me or seeking my help I could not tell. So I just went about my way shrugging off my bewilderment and the mild impulse to linger there a little longer.

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I enquired about the book shop, with some passers-by and shop-owners, but just received blank looks and a shake of head…indicating cluelessness about my query, I suppose.
I wondered if I was caught in a time warp. The feeling grew in intensity as I relentlessly continued my search. I believed I was close to finding it and not ready to give-up and call it a day. I began to systematically cover each and every narrow lane, my eyes keenly scanning all the shops, each one unremarkable yet imbibing a unique charm.
Then just like that my gaze landed on the very place I was looking for, while I was halfway down an old winding alley.

Voila! There it was! The almost nondescript and inconspicuous shop revealed itself to my eager eyes. It humbly sported a fading signage displaying the name of the store.

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The shop just occupied a narrow stretch of area that touched the parallel running lane on the other end, with entrances to the shop from both the lanes.
As I stepped in, the rich and musty smell of old books stormed my senses. I found myself flanked closely by shelves on both sides. So narrow was the walkway, that you can only walk in a single file, as it can allow only one person to snugly pass through at a time.
The shelves were stacked with various books from the floor all the way up to the ceiling, giving the place a charmingly quirky feel, like an enchanted place that had materialized right out of a fantasy story book. Or rather like I had stepped into one. I almost expected Gandalf or Professor Dumbledore to step out in front of me any time. A thin veil of translucent dust covered all the books, adding to a sense of ancient magic hovering in the air.
Soon a wizened old man materialized from a little room on the side, that was almost concealed by the overflowing shelves. With a kind and polite smile he invited me to explore the other room. It was crammed with more books on all sides, arranged all the way up to the ceiling which seemed to be the norm here.
The structure of the shelves were obscured by books of every size. Again covered in the same ancient layer of dust. I could tell the books have been tenderly cared for as I slowly browsed. I relished the sight of the staggering collection of books in mostly English, Urdu,  Arabic and Persian literature, spanning more than a century. Books on the Deccan history, Asaf Jahi dynasty period and more. I noted many of the books were from the pre-independence era.
After a while, the elderly shopkeeper guided me to another extension of the shop across the street and I treated myself to yet another impressive display of more rare and old books. Of course I was not fooled by the dust and realized I needed deep pockets to be able to afford many of the books here. Finally after browsing for countless moments found something that fit my humble budget, to my extreme delight. Or was it that the books found me?! I walked out of the treasure trove of a book store clutching my precious finds with a mounting sense of excitement.

A 19th century edition of Pippa Passes – a verse drama by Robert Browning.
A 20th century edition – Collection of William Wordsworth’s poems.
Both the books encased in leather bindings with beautiful etchings and rich texture. Filled with the wonderful old book smell, apart from words within to lose oneself in!

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Ten books to enchant and delight the young

Realization that today (2nd April 2018) is International Children’s Book Day, has infused me with just the right amount of motivation to compile the list of books that have been a source of joy and entertainment for my kids and me. So it felt like the perfect day for sharing our favourite set of books starting with an age group of 2 – 8 years. These books are great as read-alouds or as independent/assisted reading. Inviting you to explore.

The age appropriateness is more of a suggested guideline to specify the minimum age limit, based on my personal experience. There is no upper age limit for reading them of course, as books like this are of a timeless nature.

  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – by Eric Carle

It is an internationally acclaimed book, considered to be one of the greatest childhood classics. With a simple theme it interactively and innovatively covers the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. It captivates the young audience with a blend of words, look and feel and invites the child to explore. The progression to a butterfly is depicted in a light and humorous manner that will engage the child’s curiosity and interest. Preferably get the board book format, so that it can stand the wear and tear that can be expected with a book of this nature.

Great as a read-aloud for kids, 2 years and above or independent reading from 3 years.

HC

 

  1. Owl Babies – Written by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Patrick Benson

A tender, soothing and simple story, that touches on a rather familiar theme of a child missing his/her parents, during the parents’ temporary absence. It is about three owlets that wake-up at night to find their mother owl, missing from the nest. They express their worries about her absence and are happy and relieved when she finally returns from her flight. This is a feel-good book and makes for a warm read-aloud at bed-time or for that matter any at time of the day.

Great as a read-aloud for kids, 2 years and above or for independent/assisted reading from 4 years and above.

OB

  1. The Rainbow Fish – Illustrated and written by Marcus Pfister

This is a set of five colorful books, with vivid and sparkling illustrations. I own it as a compact boxed set with the board books neatly stacked inside.

Rainbow Fish to the Rescue

Rainbow Fish and the Big Blue Whale

Rainbow Fish and the Sea Monster’s Cave

Rainbow Fish Finds his Way

Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea

Apart from being engrossing with an adventurous theme, it does carry subtle yet meaningful messages about self-awareness, overcoming fear, acceptance, happiness, humility, sharing and friendship. Of course there are some debates around the book sending the wrong message of giving up individuality or sacrificing or compromising. But then it also depends on the parent, care-giver who helps the child interpret the story.

RF

Great as a read-aloud for kids, 3 years and above or for independent/assisted reading from 5 years and above.

  1. The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain

This is a series that can be read in any order. It covers various common themes that children and parents can easily relate to and each story delivers a useful message. Each story is an easy read to impact a basic life lesson. For example why it is important for kids not to wander away from parents in a public place, why bullying is bad, or why sharing your toys is important to make friends, or why telling lies is a bad idea and many others. All these messages are effortlessly weaved into interesting stories revolving around the Berenstain bears’ family and their friends and the environment around them.

Great as a read-aloud for kids, 2 years and above or for independent/assisted reading from 5 years and above.

TheBerenstainBears

  1. The Gruffalo – written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

The lyrical and gripping flow of the story apart from the engrossing story line can engage the kids apart from inspiring a love for words and encouraging the right enunciation.  The beautiful illustrations add to the enchanting effect. It is told from the view point of a mouse. A mouse that ventures into a forest filled with dangerous predators. It navigates through the forest, evading each and every creature with a charming retort and cunning move till it finally comes across the legendary and terribly dangerous Gruffalo. With sparkling wit it saves itself from this monster and in the process creates a legendary status for itself too.

Great as a read-aloud for kids, 3 years and above or for independent/assisted reading from 5 years and above.

TG

  1. Goodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd

It is a book that can quite easily become part of a child’s bedtime ritual. The narrative is like a sweet lullaby that creates a hypnotic effect and induces a feeling of assurance and comfort to relax and give in to sleep. The pictures have a soft, dreamlike quality to them.

Great as a read-aloud for kids, 1 year and above or for independent/assisted reading from 4 years and above.

GM

  1. Where the wild things are – by Maurice Sendak

This is a classic and an enchanting tale that can create an instant connect with the young and the old. The story line is fantasy, adventure with a touch of humour which can be a little edgy, depending on the interpretation. Max is a little boy who is sent to bed without supper by his mom, on account of his mischief. He falls asleep and his room transforms into a dream forest. He embarks on a journey in a boat, to find himself landing on a strange faraway land. There he comes across the monstrous inhabitants called Wild Things. He fearlessly tames them and is crowned as their king. Finally a hot delicious supper back home seems to draw Max back to the real world.

Both my kids found the theme funny and entertaining rather than frightening. But some mothers have given me their feedback about their kids finding the illustrations and the story line a tad bit creepy.

Great as a read-aloud for kids, 2 years and above or for independent/assisted reading from 4 years and above.

WT

  1. The Emperor of Absurdia by Chris Ridell

Join a little boy on a smooth flowing dreamy fun-filled adventure, as he tumbles out of his bed into a strange fantasy world of dragons, wardrobe monsters and more. Your kids and you are in for an amazing treat with this one! This book has an easy flowing, bizarre yet interesting story line generously laced with humour, and has vivid and colourful illustrations to match the theme.

Great as a read-aloud for kids, 2 years and above or for independent/assisted reading from 5 years and above

EA

  1. Cat in the Hat by Dr.Seuss

It is a story that is a wild, wacky and funny read with easy rhyming sentences that make it a popular one. The theme is light-hearted with a mischievous cat wearing a curiously tall hat, that pays a visit, when the mother is away and the little brother and sister, are home alone. The cat encourages them to join in and create some havoc around the house even as their pet goldfish responsibly keeps warning them. The cat also summons two bizarre and funny creatures, called Thing1 and Thing2 to help with the mischief.

Great as a read-aloud for kids, 3 years and above or for independent/assisted reading from 5 years and above

CH

  1. Gruffalo Child

This is as delightful and lyrical as its precursor story, The Gruffalo. This story is narrated from the point of view of the Gruffalo’s child, who wanders into the forest one night, without the parent Gruffalo’s knowledge in search of the legendary mouse, considered to be terribly dangerous. On the way it meets the various forest creatures who warn it about the legendary mouse. Finally it encounters the mouse and is outwitted by the little mouse and believes itself to have escaped from a terrible fate and returns to the safe, secure and cozy comfort of its dwelling. A memorable and enjoyable read, that will have you return to it several times.

Great as a read-aloud for kids, 3 years and above or for independent/assisted reading from 5 years and above

GC

Hope this list helps you reconnect with your already favorite reads or aids you in discovering books to captivate and enchant you and your kids with many hours of joyful reading and bonding. Do leave a comment if you found the list useful.

 

Puppy Chronicles – Sally befriends a gentle giant

The first chance meet with Toffee, a large labrador, was during an early morning walk. It ended in an awkward fiasco. The moment little puppy Sally set eyes on him, she went almost flying off the leash in a bid to get away from the huge fluffy hulk of a dog. She dashed across the long stretch of the road and whizzed into the house with a yelp and took cover under a chair.

Few days later, during our morning walk, we turned a corner to find Toffee standing there like a rock. A living rock of snow with flecks of gold glinting on its glossy fur and with a compassionate face that can melt a bar of chocolate. Or in short like a cute snow bear or a Yeti-Doo, the affectionate snow giant. This time Sally’s reaction was a lot less dramatic. She retreated several steps steadily but then stopped and regarded Toffee with her keen rounded eyes. The large dog stood still, with a kind look on its expansive face, as if consciously trying not to scare Sally away this time. Gradually Sally approached the dog with slow measured steps. Moments later she was sniffing and pawing at him, like the large lab was her best buddy! Soon she was walking alongside her new found friend, Toffee, the gentle giant.

 

 

 

Puppy Chronicles – Sally bonds with Tina

Evening walk was coming to an end. It was time to head back home. Just then, Tina, another adopted indie girl from the neighborhood, sauntered by, with all the charm and elegance of a lady. She stopped in her tracks when she saw Sally.  Sally took to her instantly. She approached Tina with a swing of her tail and a happy bounce. Tina’s eyes lit up as she saw the adoring look in Sally eyes. Soon they were sniffing, whispering in each others ears and bonding with careless ease.

 

 

Puppy Chronicles – When Sally met Jake

It was a bright spring morning, when Jake, another indie puppy from the neighborhood decided to drop in along with his pet parent to meet the new kid on the block, Sally. Jake’s eager laughing pant and sniff were met with a raised nose and a tentative glance from Sally girl. A rather lacklustre and guarded response. At first. But Jake was relentless as he continued to wag and smile in that distinct puppy way and follow Sally. At a distance of course. When he tried to get closer, she abruptly spun around with a sharp leap, her paw raised in air threateningly and tried to rake Jake on his cheek with her sharp claws, earning a gasp of horror from the pet parent. But that did not discourage Jake as he tried to earn her friendship one way or the other. Just when we decided it was time for Jake to leave, the tide unexpectedly turned. Sally stood upright next to the door haughtily watching Jake walk away, albeit with multiple backward glances in her direction. The moment he reached the gate and it was unlatched, Sally broke into a run, reaching the gate in record time. What followed next are best expressed with pictures rather than words… This is a genuine case of puppy love perhaps…

 

 

 

 

A slithery rendezvous

A casual stroll through the quaint neighborhood
Steeped in a world of languid thoughts so good
A stirring, a rustle in the leaves, the source unseen
Gaze is drawn to serpentine figures, slim and lean
Shaded by a shifting mantle of wild undergrowth
Gyrating lazily to their own rhythmic note
Caught they are in a steady and classic movement
A dance so endless yet achingly transient
Twin coils curling and turning, sporting a patterned sheen
Rolling languorously on a threadbare carpet of brown and green
Under azure skies they cozily engage in their play so keen
Eyes glowing with depth-less desires mingling
Mirroring each other’s ardent longing
Oblivious to time and space they sweetly embrace
A random rendezvous or one planned by moon phase
They twirl and spin with impish abandon
Frolicking under the mid-noon’s benevolent sun
Moments stretch and melt as they indulge in endearment so tender
A wanton display of timeless cosmic splendor
Then without any sign the enchanting pair takes leave
Departing from prying eyes, through summer grass they weave
Like threaded lightning they blaze away from human view
Their retreat obscured by a dense foliage, fresh and new
Leaving behind only these startling images few

Copyright Text & Images © 2018 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani

Book Review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

If you are looking for a captivating, warm and gooey read with just the right mix of fragrant spices and a touch of pathos blended in, then this is just the book for you!

What a frivolous, eccentric and weird name for a book! That was my immediate reaction when I heard the name of the book “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. True to its name it was all that and a lot more. Friendship, impact of war, life on a small quaint island, wit, humour and a love for literature are all seamlessly woven together in an old-fashioned exchange of letters to create a pleasant, sunny, poignant and memorable effect.

When a friend suggested this book to me I had my reservations. I had never attempted reading an epistolary novel before. A novel entirely conveyed in the form of letters. How very odd and unusual!? That was my initial thought. A writing style that raised my suspicions about its power to draw me in as a reader.

With lingering reluctance I plodded through the first few letters, trying to sink my mind into the plot unfolding in the form of letters. After nearing the end of the letter from the Guernsey Islander, mentioning the literary club, is when the charm and magic of the narrative began to seep through me unbidden. Soon I was breezing through the book at a steady pace effortlessly piecing together the story from the delightful avalanche of letters exchanged between the various characters. As the letters flow back and forth, a plethora of realistic, spirited and vulnerable characters emerge from a narrative that is whimsical and witty, yet grounded in the harrowing reality of post-war period. The characters’ unique personalities are etched through the distinct writing styles in their individual letters. The letters manage to evoke a myriad of emotions as the content ranges from warm, funny, witty, serious to tragic and moving.

It is a story that is set in the period surrounding the WW2 timeline. With a generous touch of warmth, humor, romance, wit, adventure and pathos, the author effectively strings together friendship and the love for literature and food with the horrors of war and post-war poignancy, trauma and recovery to create a rather startling and extraordinary effect.

The story begins with Juliet Ashton, a moderately successful author and writer of a British humour column in her early thirties. Her life moves at a predictable and comfortable pace, interspersed with some drama, after the uncertainties and destruction brought about by war destroyed her flat, reducing it to rubble, forcing her to move into a temporary residence. To add to the post war return-to-normalcy, she is courted by an American publisher, Mark Reynolds. After having being under a recent spell of ennui, she basks in the fawning attention showered on her by Mark, while she swears allegiance to the current publishing house she is associated with. One that is run by her best friend Sophie’s brother Sidney. Both of them have been a steady and positive presence in her life, since she had made her acquaintance with Sophie, on entering boarding school at 12 years of age, after having been orphaned and proving to be too much to handle for her uncle.

Unexpectedly a letter arrives addressed to her from Dawsey Adams from Guernsey one of the English Channel Islands. Dawsey has chanced upon a Charles Lamb’s book previously owned by her and writes to her to express his delight and keen interest in reading more of the author’s works. This gives rise to a string of letters back and forth between Dawsey and Juliet. She learns the name of the literary club that Dawsey is a part of and the unusual origin of its name, which is the same as the title of the book. A bizarre name that instantly piques her curiosity. She is captivated and requests permission to learn more about the club and its members and to write about it and publish it. It sparks off engaging conversations between her and the other members of the literary club, unfolding in a series of letters as she starts by convincing them of her trustworthiness and promises to keep her writing serious, without belittling the story surrounding the club, considering her main genre till then has been humour. In the process she is introduced to the lovely and eccentric group of members and also hears about an ebullient, courageous and gentle woman who is the founder and driving force behind the literary club, Elizabeth McKenna. Though Elizabeth makes her appearance only as a memory shared in the various letters, yet she leaves a resounding impact and is a tangible and strong presence in the story.

All this serves as a writer’s muse for Juliet, one that culminates in leading her to the beguiling island of Guernsey, the place that is home to the club and its members. It is portrayed as a charming place that was touched by war and loss, yet remains a beautiful island made special by a set of people who infuse their lives and those around them with hope, courage, resilience, laughter and love.

As the story progresses it lingers on the harrowing experiences of war and its effect on adults and kids as relayed by the islanders, balanced with the light-hearted theme of an unlikely and lasting friendship that develops between quirky and endearing characters brought together by the vagaries of war, fondness for Elizabeth, a love for literature in its various forms and food.

A surprising and unexpected special guest appearance by a very eminent author sets ablaze the novel that is already crackling with exuberance and luminosity.

Definitely a recommended read for the heart-warming and unique reading experience it renders effectively.

Looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation of this book to grace the silver screen soon.

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