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THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE by Thomas Hardy

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 

THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE

By Thomas Hardy

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

    At a country fair near Casterbridge in the fictional county of Wessex Michael Henchard, a 21 year old hay-trusser, (person who makes bundles of hay) argues with his wife Susan. Drunk on rum-laced furmity (thick boiled grain dish) he auctions her off, along with his baby daughter Elizabeth-Jane, to Richard Newson, a passing sailor, for five guinneas. Sober the next day, he is too late to recover his family. When he realises they are gone, he swears never to touch liquor again for as many years as he has lived so far.

    Eighteen years later, Henchard has become a successful grain merchant and even the Mayor of Casterbridge, known for his staunch sobriety. Henchard has avoided explaining the circumstances of the loss of his wife, allowing people to assume he is a widower.

    On a visit to Jersey on business, Henchard falls in love with Lucetta Le Sueur, who nurses him back to health after an illness. Although Henchard never tells Lucetta exactly how he “lost” his wife, he does tell her he has a wife who is probably dead, but who may return. Besotted, Lucetta develops a relationship with him despite the risk. Henchard returns to Casterbridge, leaving Lucetta to face the social consequences of their fling.

    To rejoin polite society Lucetta would have to marry him, although Henchard is already technically married. Yet just as Henchard is about to send for Lucetta, Susan unexpectedly appears in Casterbridge with her daughter, Elizabeth-Jane. Newson appears to have been lost at sea, and without means to earn an income Susan is looking to Henchard again. Susan believed for a long time that her “marriage” to Newson was perfectly legitimate. Only recently, just before Newson’s disappearance, had Susan begun to question whether or not she was still legally married to Henchard.

    Just as Susan and Elizabeth-Jane arrive in town, a Scotsman, Donald Farfrae, is passing through on his way to America. He has experience as a grain and corn merchant, and is on the cutting edge of agricultural science. He befriends Henchard and helps him out of a bad financial situation by giving him some timely advice. Henchard persuades him to stay and offers him a job as his corn factor, (trader in grains) rudely dismissing a man named Jopp to whom he had already offered the job. Hiring Farfrae is a stroke of business genius for Henchard, who, although hardworking, is not well-educated.

    To preserve appearances, Henchard sets Susan up in a nearby house, pretends to court her, and remarries her. Both Henchard and Susan keep the truth from Elizabeth-Jane. Henchard also keeps Lucetta a secret. He writes to her, informing her that their marriage is off.

    Henchard’s relationship with Farfrae deteriorates as Farfrae becomes more popular than Henchard. Eventually they part company and Farfrae sets himself up as an independent merchant. The rivalry and jealousy for the most part is one-sided, and Farfrae conducts himself with scrupulous honesty and fair dealing. Henchard meanwhile makes increasingly aggressive, risky business decisions that put him in financial danger.

    Henchard’s jealousy leads him to oppose a marriage between Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane, until after Susan’s death, at which point Henchard learns he is not Elizabeth-Jane’s father from a letter which Susan, on her deathbed, marked to be opened only after Elizabeth-Jane’s marriage. His own daughter had died in infancy; this second Elizabeth-Jane is Newson’s daughter. Henchard is no longer concerned about blocking the marriage, but he conceals the secret from Elizabeth-Jane and grows cold and cruel towards her.

    In the meantime, Lucetta arrives from Jersey and purchases a house in Casterbridge. She has inherited money from a wealthy relative. Initially she hopes to resume their relationship, but propriety requires that they wait a while. She takes Elizabeth-Jane into her household as a companion, thinking it will give Henchard an excuse to come to visit, not knowing of Henchard’s hatred of Elizabeth-Jane.

    Farfrae visits Lucetta’s house to see Elizabeth-Jane and falls for Lucetta, not knowing she has come to marry Henchard. Lucetta is also attracted to Farfrae. At the same time, she begins to question Henchard’s character, when it becomes public knowledge that he sold his first wife. Although initially reluctant, Henchard decides that he wants to marry Lucetta, particularly since he is in financial trouble – he believes that his creditors would extend credit if he was about to be married to a wealthy woman. Frustrated by her stalling, Henchard bullies Lucetta into agreeing to marry him. But by this point she is in love with Farfrae, and they run away one weekend to get married. She does not tell Henchard until well after the fact. Henchard’s credit collapses, he goes bankrupt, and has to sell all his personal possessions to pay creditors.

    Farfrae buys Henchard’s old business and tries to help the man who helped him get started, whom he still regards as a friend and a former mentor, by employing him as a journeyman. He does not realise Henchard is his enemy, even though the town council and Elizabeth-Jane both warn him.

    Lucetta keeps her former relationship with Henchard a secret, but all is revealed when Henchard lets his enemy Jopp deliver Lucetta’s old love letters. Jopp makes the secret public and the townspeople publicly shame Henchard and Lucetta in a skimmington ride. Lucetta, who by this point is pregnant, dies of an epileptic seizure.

    When Newson, Elizabeth-Jane’s biological father, returns, Henchard is afraid of losing her companionship and tells Newson she is dead. The twenty-first year of his oath is up, and he starts drinking again. By the time Elizabeth-Jane, who months later is married to Donald Farfrae and reunited with Newson, goes looking for Henchard to forgive him, he has died and left a will requesting no funeral.

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

***

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

 

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BOOK TALK: MRS FUNNY BONES

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Read initiative–

MRS FUNNYBONES

TWINKLE KHANNA

    ‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one—George R R Martin—American novelist. The book only elucidates the above quote, in content, language and even the format. As, one truly lives through Twinkle Khanna’s day-to-day chores, while reading it. I would hesitate from calling the title, a book. As that is a misnomer in itself. Truly speaking it is only a collection of Twinkle’s Sunday columns, tied into one hilarious spine.

    In all the two hundred and twenty five plus pages, one only breezes past Twinkle’s flurry of activities. Goodness! She has so much to do, so much to brood, so much to improve and above all so much to … guftagoo. Nevertheless, it is written quite vivaciously, but mostly in present tense. Where, one only gets to feel as if one is tied to a timepiece, as the narration keeps ticking episodically over the pages, seamlessly till chapters change: 8.15 a.m., 1.30 p.m., 1,45 p.m., 2 p.m., 2.30 p.m., 4 p.m., 4.15 p.m., 4.50 p.m., 5 p.m., 5.30 p.m., 7 p.m.

    It tosses out relevant day to day issues that are meticulously captured by the lady author. She tries to scoop out something out of nothing most of the times which is not easy to do. But then you also require that hilarious frame of mind to keep receiving the humour one after the other, at close intervals—a kind of deluge of some … subtle side-splitting.

    The story builds around her routine activities. And where, one even gets an opportunity to peek into the life of her super star husband, referred all throughout as the ‘man of the house.’ And her son, mostly and mildly reproached as, ‘the prodigal son’ together with the infant daughter as, ‘the baby girl.’ Well that is not all. There is also an interesting quick-witted Punjabi Mummyji, Twinkle’s mother-in-law. Who keeps adding enough masala to the pantomime, periodically, over the fast turning pages. But where, pages can turn for more than one reason. To be frank it is quite a bhan-mati-ka pitara if I may say so. In a nutshell, many lady readers, on quite a few pages would like to identify themselves, as the chief protagonist or at least aspire, to be one.

     Well if you’re looking for a thumping storyline or a plot this is certainly not the book. Plus you also need a particular mood to enjoy its funny occurrences and laughter filled happenings. Which in the normal context, you would get to read in the newspaper column once a week on a relaxed Sunday morning. So even the state of mind and timing are important for such titles where the plot and storyline are amiss.

    The narrative connotes to be a personal account of Twinkle Khanna—a mightily placed business woman with two children and a high profile husband. I would say she milks her day well, and also doesn’t hesitate in making a mountain out of the mole hill. At times one also wonders if it is a detailed biography of the ‘daily chores’ per se or a ‘to-do-list’ in the metaphoric sense. The book of course is an accumulation of her columns. So, laugh it out there and then. For there are no carry forwards in it.

    The book doesn’t impact you in any significant manner. But yes, floods you each moment with some interesting vignettes and needle precision sentences. The effervescence of which is not felt for long, especially when the pages are over.

    In the little room that the lady author had without a storyline or a plot she has done a good job and so have the publishers.

    A good read if you’ve not picked it up already.

*****

    This is an attempt to spark an interest in reading books. We may not get time to read all the books. But such reviews and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about. 

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****