2 Jan 2018

BLACK NARCISSUS & (MATERENA MAHI TRILOGY #1): FRANGIPANI.

Two very different books by two very different authors (neither of them read for a challenge), I'm merely reviewing them together because I borrowed them from the same person. TT


BLACK NARCISSUS by RUMER GODDEN.


In the days when it was the General’s ‘harem’ palace, ladies with their retinues and rich clothes could be seen walking on the high windy terraces. At night, music floated out over villages and gorges far into the early hours. Now the General’s son has bestowed it upon the disciplined Sisters of Mary.

Beginning work in the orchards and opening a school and a dispensary for the mountain people, the small band of Sisters are depended for help on the English agent, Mr Dean. But his charm and insolent candour are disconcerting. When he says bluntly ‘This is no place for a nunnery’, it is as if he already knows their destiny . . .
- Back cover Blurb

The sisters left Darjeeling in the last week of October.
- First Sentence, Chapter One

She was as sharp as Sister Honey was sweet, but it was not that; it was the way her eyes seemed to narrow and glint as if she were going to strike you, and her teeth made her look as if she could give a sharp bite, and the frightening still way in which she talked.
- Random Moment, Page 113

MY THOUGHTS ... Oh dear! How to begin?

Perhaps by saying that though it doesn't happen very often I actually preferred the 1947 film starring Deborah Kerr. 

As to whether I'd have preferred the book more if I hadn't have seen the film so many times ... who can say.

As it was I found the narrative wandering, the character development poor, the tension nothing like that of the film. 

An OK read at best. I just found it underwhelming, to use Niece #1's expression, a bit, well, meh. 


Materena Mahi, champion professional cleaner and best listener in all of Tahiti, is usually the one solving the problems. But right now she's that close to throwing her daughter Leilani into the street. 'It doesn't matter what I do,' she confides to Mama Teta, to Cousin Rita, to Mama Loana and to the Virgin Mary Understanding Woman, 'it's always the wrong thing. I'm going taravana!' And if that wasn't enough there's a boy on the horizon. Or so the relatives are saying.

When everything around her is changing, and the traditional Tahitian rules no longer seem to be enough, Materena realises it's going to take more than the Welcome into Womanhood talk to deal with the next generation of Mahi women...
- Back Cover Blurb

When a woman doesn't collect her man's pay she gets zero francs because her man goes to the bar with colleagues to celebrate the end of the week and you know how it is, eh?
- First Sentence, The Day You Came To Me

When secrets come out at the wrong time people can be hurt. That's why Materena is going to reveal a few secrets to her daughter today because today is the right time.
Random Moment, Page 104

MY THOUGHTS ... Liked the snippets of folk wisdom, the home-spun philosophy, the Tahitian wisdom, the talk of the gap between traditional elders and their offspring who tend to scoff at local customs and then of course there's the strong, feisty females characters ... always a plus to my mind.

A feel good mother/daughter novel at the heart of which is Materena who we get to know over several decades. Enjoyable at the time. However the trouble is, read September of this year (I know, circumstances have led to some later than usual reviews), and already the characters are little more than a distant memory. 

8 comments:

Kelly said...

Well, at least one of these was worth your while... even if not enough so to be memorable long term. But then I don't really find many that are. I figure it's just good enough if I remember that I liked it!

I hope you're starting off the new years with some good books.

Suko said...

Tracy, thanks for your honest reviews.
I'm glad that you enjoyed Frangipani.

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!

Brian Joseph said...

There are some cases where a film is better then a book. I have not read The Wizard of Oz, but I have heard that is a good example.

Tracy Terry said...

Having read the book on which the film version of The Wizard of Oz is based I'd agree the film is better Brian. Likewise I think the same can be said about Stardust and The Colour Purple and the Narnia books and .... I could go on.

nightwingsraven said...

Tracy,
Like you, I saw the unforgettable
film of "Black Narcissus" and after
reading what you said in your
honest review. I think I would
borrow the book from the library.
But perhaps I will add "Frangipani"
to my list.
Raven

Tracy Terry said...

Please don't just take my word for it. I've read plenty of reviews post my posting my review and any number loved the book.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I have to say that the covers grabbed my eye. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the books!

Melliane said...

I confess that they were new to me there