Tag Archives: adultery

Patience by John Coates

Patience by John Coates Title: Patience
Author: John Coates
Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1903155899
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Another book on adultery. This time yet again from, “The Novel Cure” Reading Project. This time a book which probably very few people would have heard of, called, “Patience” by John Coates. I could not wait to get my hands on it and when I did, I waited. I tend to do that sometimes. I wait. Till I am ready for the book. Or rather the book is ready for me. “Patience” was ready for me this month and I jumped right into it.

“Patience” is about Patience – she is the protagonist, who is Catholic, and is way too familiar with the concept of Sin. She is not happy in her marriage. Edward is not the kind of husband she wants to be with. He is being unfaithful to her (We come to know of this at the beginning of the book, when her brother Lionel tells her so). He is fond of her and his family of three daughters, but would rather have a son. Until Patience decides that she has had enough. She begins to live her life on her own terms and things get pretty interesting from thereon.

The book is brilliantly written, with characters behaving the way probably you and I would in situations they are in. Patience, initially comes across as timid and naïve but according to me, as the novel progresses her true nature and the strength of character is apparent, which left me hooting for me, long after the book finished. John’s sensibilities and character portrayal is way ahead of its time. Patience is set in a time when women cannot think of living the way Patience did and to me that is commendable.

I also sometimes wondered what it would be like for a man to write a book from a woman’s perspective. Maybe it is not that difficult at all. Patience is proof of that. A book which makes you think, smile and cheer all the way. Please do not miss it.

This one was to cure Adultery from The Novel Cure Reading Challenge.

Next Up: The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

I was thinking about clubbing these two Novel Cure Challenge Reads together and it only made sense – considering how similar the protagonists are. Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary are bound to be clubbed. I remember reading and rereading these books for the longest time and somehow in a very strange way, I could relate to them. I am not married. I am not a woman. There has been no instance of adultery then, of course, but still there is some affinity which I cannot name or pinpoint. I am only too glad to have reread these books. They certainly brought back a lot of memories.

We all know (or at least most of us do) how it works out for these feisty women. Both stuck in unhappy marriages. I think it would be apt to call their marriages boring, or rather the men they are married to. Charles Bovary almost comes across as a dullard who could not care less about Emma’s youth or her desires or what she wants from life. Anna Karenina on the other hand has everything she could want, but somehow the all-consuming love is just not there, till she meets Count Vronsky.

Emma’s life is ridden with men – her father, her husband, her neighbour, the greedy moneylender, the pharmacist, the pharmacist’s assistant, and her two lovers. She knows it will only end in disaster and yet she wants it all, just like Anna. Anna knows the Russian societal norms and yet she will go to any length to get what she wants. Both these nineteenth-century heroines risk it all, for there is only one life to live. All they want is passion. They want love and they just keep searching for it, everywhere they can. Even if it means they have to end it by giving up their lives. Every time I have read these books, I wished they would come out of it alive and they don’t. I know it but I want to believe that everything works out for them, though it does for some time. These novels were also written in times when both countries, Russia and France were going through changing times. Maybe that is why they were considered so radical for their time.

I have never intended to read these classics with a lot of analysis. For me, they are just testimonies to what I connect to relate to – all the unrequited love, the trapped lives dictated by hypocritical societies and the alienation of the self, despite being loved and surrounded by many.

The anguish of the women comes through superbly in both these books and to me what is also surprising is that these books were written by men. Men who were very strong in their own way and manner and extremely eccentric as well, not to mention, womanizers – maybe that is why they could capture the feminine essence with such aplomb in both these works.

The translations again, when it comes to classics such as these matter the most. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (Anna Karenina) and Lydia Davis (Madame Bovary) have done more than just a wonderful job with the words and their interpretation. I think for me most of the time loving these two classics have come from these translations. And yes I also think that perhaps there is no cure for adultery. You have to go through it. There is no moral ground. Anything for happiness, I think.

Next Up in the Novel Cure Challenge: Patience by John Coates

387 Short Stories: Day 40: Story 40: Adultery by Andre Dubus

Adultery and Other Choices Title: Adultery
Author: Andre Dubus
Taken from the Collection: Adultery and Other Choices

I discovered Andre Dubus by chance and since then I have yet to come across someone who can write the way he does. His prose cannot be matched by any other short story writer that is because he has a style of his own for sure, but also because no one can express the way he does.

The story I read from one of his collections was, “Adultery”. As the name suggests it is about an affair – a married woman and an ex-priest carry it on. The themes of marriage, religion, faith, fidelity are brought out like no other in this story or novella to some extent.

Hank Allison watches his wife Edith have an affair. The book is of perspectives and life and how sometimes you have to do what you do not want to. The choices we make say a lot about the lives we lead or choose to lead.

Where The God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom

Amy Bloom’s Where the God of Love Hangs Out clearly aims to be a series of meditations on unusual instances of love. It examines the bearers of that love, their relationships to each other and to small but widely varying peripheral casts, and does its best to make no judgments, to present them to us and make way for our own assessment. As a treatment of the subject of love in all its agony and splendor etc., the stories are an impressive success. But as a series of engrossing and moving tales, they are far less so.

The book is divided into two primary sequences of stories chronicling two rather unusual couples, punctuated by several shorter stand-alone pieces. Characters are often well developed and detailed, and the manifestations of love are, of course, interesting and compelling in their own way. But where Bloom falls short is in her efforts to make them likable, to draw us in and force us to invest ourselves in their troubles and triumphs.

The first sequence follows William and Clare, aging extramarital lovers whose respective spouses are more suited for each other than for them. The second follows Lionel and Julia, a stepmother/stepson pair brought together by a connection that I never entirely bought into. These relationships are ambitious in scope, and occasionally they do ring true enough to move the reader, but a great deal of time is spent on circumstances surrounding the love, so that almost no attention is paid to the love itself.

The characters that result are often hollow and bare, in spite of the careful effort on the part of the author to flesh them out and make them come alive for us.

There are a handful of moments in the collection that reached me, the most powerful of which occurred in the final lines of the independent story “Between Here and Here.” But for the most part the men and women that populate this book are busy making each other and themselves miserable, which is only interesting to a point. And by far the greatest misstep Bloom makes is to rely too much on the presence, immediate or not, of death in her stories–the device is so frequent as to become distracting.

Stylistically, the experience is a joy; Bloom’s words are well-chosen and to the point. But for those looking for more than a strictly literary read (and by that I mean a warmer, chewier take on traditional romantic love), this is an overwhelmingly bittersweet, if not downright unhappy, book that deals with its subject in a detached and intellectual manner, leaving it feeling more than a little sterile.

Where the God of Love Hangs Out; Bloom, Amy; Random House; $15.00

It Rained All Night by Buddhadeva Bose

I wonder when will people understand the importance of literature and the freedom of authors to express what they feel like and do not go around banning books just because they are written with verve and hold a mirror to how we live.

It Rained All Night by Buddhadeva Bose is one such book that was banned in 1970, the original title being Raat Bhor Brishti. The police at that time did not even spare the manuscript and it was burnt to ashes. Later though the high court overruled the banned and set the book free.

I did not even realise the book was banned till I researched some on it. I am certain that it was banned on the ground of vulgarity and some such thing, however my question remains: So why can’t a wife look outside her marriage for physical fulfillment, if her husband fails to meet them? Just alone for this I guess the book would have been banned today as well, considering the dark ages we now live in.

The plot of the book is simple: Maloti, an attractive Middle-Class Bengali girl, marries the pendantic college lecturer, Noyonangshu – and too for love, only to discover him to be, “insecure, sexually timid” and confused.

Noyonangshu on the other hand is quite liberal with his ideas with reference to the nuclear family concept and wants his wife to enjoy the very best. He is aware of her trysts with his friend Jayanto who seems to match her desire and intensity.

The entire book juggles between the socio-political and the sexual awakening of its characters in a time when Calcutta and Bengal were shaping it self for greater things. I enjoyed reading the book and loved what the author had to say for instance where marriage is concerned and how it is not needed in an evolved society like ours (really?).

Marriage! What a complex, difficult, necessary and fantastically durable institution it is – yet so fragile. Two human beings will spend their entire lives together. Not five or 15 years, but their entire lives – what more atrocious a tyranny, what more inhuman an ideal could there be

Buddhadeva Bose’s writing is crisp and to the point.  It is racy and not cluttered at all. In fact the reader is often looking forward to what is in store next. The style though is disjointed and has a series of monologues of the internal storms of each character and what they go through as situations come along.

It captures the conflict of values in a beautiful and unsentimentilizing manner. It does not through sentiments in your face and yet emotion is at the core of the book. At this point, I would like to say that the translation is superb by Clinton B. Seely. It does not take away the essence of the book like most translated works. All in all this book is unforgettable. In almost every way.

Book: ‘It Rained All Night’ by Buddhadeva Bose; Translator: Clinton B. Seely; Publisher: Penguin Books-India; Price: Rs 150