Book Review: The Marigold Chemise

The Marigold Chemise – book cover

Book: The Marigold Chemise

Author: Sheryl Westergreen (@SDWeste) / Twitter

Genre: Historical fiction, business

Review copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read

“The seduction had begun.” I could not resist picking up The Marigold Chemise by Sheryl Westergreen as it gave vibes similar to one of my favorite historical fiction featuring a painting – The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer. The stunning book cover with yellow-orange hues was instantly attractive. I deep-dived into this book with much anticipation and undivided attention.

When young Lucida of the conservative Glavani family agrees to model the marigold silk chemise for portraits by her friend Alessia, the reader can relate to her eagerness. How can one not revel in the beauty of silken wonder almost as bright as the sun? The book does justice to these sentiments – both of the protagonist and the reader as it brings forth a mesmerizing story.

A fine lesson in history, architecture, food, decor, art, and the culture of Roman society, the author’s research features in an impactful narration. Some of the prose is poetic. The dreamy color of the marigold occurs more than once. The romantic tale thrills and the historical fiction enthralls. Halfway through the book, a nefarious element builds up and keeps the reader glued. The whispering of clandestine dealings with scandalous consequences creates further curiosity about how the characters will handle the brewing storm.

This is a young, bashful story – of two women trying to fulfill dreams and desires. As always, the base conflict is between aspirations and how to keep them alive in the face of societal bindings. The characters are well-fleshed out. Even the male characters are tender and understanding, wanting the best for their women. The story moves at a breathtaking speed with twists and turns like the cobbled streets of Rome. This book is a tribute to the artistic spirit.

Eventually, how do events transpire in the lives of a talented female painter and her gorgeous female model, wrapped in the magic of a marigold chemise? They have the same dream, but can they stand for themselves in a world that would rather have them relegated to lavish living rooms and busy kitchens? How does the marigold chemise inspire a business venture? Read this alluring tale with an artistic and feministic theme, just as I did. I have added this book to my beloved historical fiction list. It brims with the fire and the glow of the marigold. Make it yours.

Read the author’s interviews:

https://www.newswire.com/news/sheryl-westergreens-new-book-the-marigold-chemise-is-an-intriguing-21716448

Art and technology

I am watching The Billion Dollar Code, a 2021 German television miniseries on Netflix, and it struck me that art and technology are interconnected. Terravision, the purported precursor of Google Earth was conceived as an art project. The team funded by Deutsche Telekom consisted of more artistic than technical people.

In episode 2, when Juri Müller conceptualizes the future of Terravision, an algorithm that ties together satellite images of the Earth, he says, “now it is empty, only form. But what happens if we fill it with content?” He elaborates, “If you fill Terravision with content, it would become a portal to a database with the knowledge of the whole world.” The leading duo goes on to speak about virtual reality.

I cannot but smile at the use of the keywords – content, database, knowledge, portals. Technology is potent but it is just a shell that needs to be filled with the right content and marketing to explore its full potential. A code can be written and a graphical element designed only after an idea is conceived. Ideas and thoughts are a part of the creative mental process involving intuition, inspiration, logic, reasoning, research, and imagination, which are eventually expressed on the drawing board. This expression is art!

The soul of technology is art. Without aesthetics, technology may not touch human lives. We want slim Smart TVs, foldable devices, colored straps for smartwatches, and a touch of beauty and style in all of our technology-enhanced lives. Innovation is a popular keyword in technology and engineering organizations. Being innovative is being creative and every innovation starts with art and creativity.

As a technical communicator, I find myself at the intersection of art and technology; creativity and code. It is the byline that describes everything I strive for in my professional life. I want to see and bring out the soulful side of technology, through relevant content that connects people with their devices. I am a creative person who believes in the future of technology, and for me, art and technology are inseparable.

Book Review: Like the Radiant Sun

Like the Radiant Sun

Book: Like the Radiant Sun

Author: Anu Kay

Genre: Mythology, Magical Realism, Fiction

Review Copy: Himalayan Book Club

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read!

Anu Kay’s novel, Like the Radiant Sun, is an engaging tale spanning a plethora of themes. It is a thriller full of suspense with the mild aroma of a romance playing out in the foreground of a mystical, mythological drama. It has the feel of a Bollywood movie and the enticement of a well-researched and rendered novel. 

Is it destined or planned that a precious, ancient text lands in the hands of an archaeologist, Rohan Sharma? He is just the man to appreciate, interpret, and preserve the words, outlining a rare discipline of combat with esoteric origins. But is he also the man who embodies the physical and mental prowess to outsmart the baddies desperate to lay their hands on the Marma Kala, an ancient manuscript on martial arts?

In the background of this intellectual pursuit lurks a gruesome mystery of a dead priest and a woman in dreadlocks. On this premise, the writer builds a fascinating story oft intercepted by quotes and passages from ancient Indian texts. The book has a fast pace and yet finds space for some attractive imagery, such as, “With cracks of thunder, rain followed like a torrent, whipping up the angry waters of the river.”

Mysterious people across some significant places in India – Varanasi, New Delhi, Kerala, and the revered Mount Kailash – pursue the protagonist. The writer brings out the mesmerizing charm and history of these places. She calls Varanasi, “a magnificent amphitheater of a bygone era.” She draws up pictures with words. For example, there is a scene of a person draped in a red shawl, spurring his black horse through the hills of a spice plantation, as dark clouds loomed.

There is occult, bloodshed, suspicious characters, and a narrative that keeps you on the edge. References to mystical symbols, seals, ancient arts and medicine, and mythological tales embellish the story. When you are reading fiction but bookmark items for further research, the writer has successfully captured your attention.

The language is polished and carefully edited, which makes the reading smooth. The characters are well-fleshed out. Their backgrounds are well-enunciated to make it easier to grasp their intentions. The book cover art speaks to the theme of the book and outlines a significant character. I felt the book title could have been more imaginative and alluring. As a lover of historical and mystical stories, Anu Kay’s work provides me with a fine piece of fresh and engaging literature that truly brings out the charm of our Indian heritage.


Book Review: Bloodstone: Legend of the Last Engraving

The book brings forth deep research and impeccable imagination. The author’s personal experiences come alive in descriptions of the Kamakhya temple rituals and the religious fervor during the autumn worship of the Goddess. The exotic yet demanding terrain of the hills of Nepal is the backdrop of the tale of a simple village couple that breaks free of the shackles of matriarchy to redefine their fate. It is the story of motherhood – earthly and divine – always alive in mythology, legends, but most importantly in human faith.

Bloodstone

Book: Bloodstone: Legend of the Last Engraving

Author: Rashmi Narzary

Genre: Mythology, Historical Fiction, Fiction

Review Copy: Himalayan Book Club

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Loved it!

Author Rashmi Narzary entwines the fascinating customs of the Kamakhya temple in the Nilachal hills of Assam, India, with the spectacular tradition of the Kumari Goddess in Tilibham, Nepal. In a fictional story that blends mythology and history, legends and existing beliefs, she creates an intriguing narrative centered around the Mother Goddess in South Asian culture. Across the snowy climes of Tilibham, a story blossoms out of loss and yearning, and like any tale of utmost passion and longing, it stretches beyond time and space to remind of the power of sadness to change destinies. The plot arc curves over this canvas. Conflict brims even after 3/4rth of the narration. Anticipation of the resolution makes the book unputdownable.

The book brings forth deep research and impeccable imagination. The author’s personal experiences come alive in descriptions of the Kamakhya temple rituals and the religious fervor during the autumn worship of the Goddess. The exotic yet demanding terrain of the hills of Nepal is the backdrop of the tale of a simple village couple that breaks free of the shackles of matriarchy to redefine their fate. It is the story of motherhood – earthly and divine – always alive in mythology, legends, but most importantly, in human faith.

Is this book prophetic? Read what the author thinks.

BLoodSTONE: LEGEND OF THE LAST ENGRAVING

It is also the story of love that transcends eons – of God Shiva, who mourns his beloved Sati and a Goddess, who must be reborn to fulfill the yearning of divine lovers. The book will make you crave more. Like me, you may seek more information on the traditions so exquisitely detailed. Divinity dwells in humanity that incessantly seeks it out; humanity survives in a deep faith in this power of the esoteric.

As a reader, I was mesmerized by the story. As an editor, I found the book lacking. It starts with repetitive text and descriptions that can be discouraging. After initial reluctance, one forges ahead into the enticing landscape of a wondrous story. The script demands a thorough edit as the repetitive information is distracting. The book would have sparkled with a crisp and concise approach, leaving more for the reader to imagine and savor, long after, the legend of the bloodstone reveals itself.

Book Review: Monet & Oscar

A young American, the son of an accomplished landscape designer in San Francisco, returns to his country of birth to fight for France during World War I. Recovering from battle scars after the war, he finds himself in the employment of none other than Claude Monet. From here begins an enthralling tale of history, flirtations, love, passion, art, and personal quest.A young American, the son of an accomplished landscape designer in San Francisco, returns to his country of birth to fight for France during World War I. Recovering from battle scars after the war, he finds himself in the employment of none other than Claude Monet. From here begins an enthralling tale of history, flirtations, love, passion, art, and personal quest.

Book: Monet & Oscar: The Essence of Light 

Author: Joe Byrd

Genre: Historical Fiction, Drama, Romance, Fiction

Review Copy: Reedsy

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read!

A young American, the son of an accomplished landscape designer in San Francisco, returns to his country of birth to fight for France during World War I. Recovering from battle scars after the war, he finds himself in the employment of none other than Claude Monet. From here begins an enthralling tale of history, flirtations, love, passion, art, and questionable past choices.

A pot-pourri of references to American, Japanese, and French culture merge in a storyline that navigates the life of Monet and Oscar. Japanese wood blocking, landscaping, gardening, Impressionist art to Monet’s illustrious life as a painter, Joe Byrd has written an enchanting historical fiction. The author’s passion for the subject and meticulous research of 30 years gleam through engrossing narration.

The reader must sit back and relish the charms of the cobbled roads along the Seinne, Vernon, Lyon, and Giverny, the fresh sea air, the architecture, the train rides, the walks and picnics, the nostalgia, references to French couture, and the delicate as well as exquisite culinary delights of the time. Monet’s garden is described as “…the best private Garden in France, perhaps in all of Europe.” Amidst all this beauty, we have a young man brimming with questions and an aged, sometimes “gruff” and “grouchy” artist on a journey of reminiscence. 

The book offers insight into people, their hardships, but most importantly about relationships that evolve amidst eccentricities and awkwardness. The characters have a connection that runs far back than they have personally known each other. Intrigue and questions fill the pages. Even halfway through, the conflict and the suspense do not become blunt. Oscar’s passionate liaison with a young lady has a Mills and Boons feel to it. 

I am glad to read this book and recommend it to all lovers of historical fiction and Impressionist art. It reminded me of another of my favorite historical fiction – Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. The chapters flow seamlessly, introducing new characters, adding layers to a fascinating tale, intercepted only by the evocation of picturesque surroundings and the confusion and pining of a lonely, young man. Drama, romance, mystery; you have it all in a well-edited book with eloquent prose. Sample this – “The stalks were months from bowing their heavy heads with the weight of golden grains of harvest time.” Want to read more? Grab your copy.

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