|Rating - 5/5|
It is not very often that one comes across a book which holds you in such tight an embrace that you don't even dare to move, having picked it up, before finishing it from cover to cover. Even rares is it to find a book which is so universal in it's theme and appeal that even when you know very well the context and local references to which it has been written to; you feel it is for you and it talks of the world around you, a world you grew up in and know as a life-long enemy or foe. This amazing book by Marta Moran Bishop is one such rare treat.
It is a fictional world, but the agony and tribulations which you find sewn into that world of fiction is so real, that you feel you can almost touch its ugliness with the fingers. It recounts the horrors of the leadership lacuna, which we are burdened with irrespective of the country we live in. The references to the corporate greed paving the way to the collapse of the economy is so real and draws from the recent developments in US, Europe and across the world. But the connection between the commercial expediency and the policy making is so disturbingly in-your-face now in almost all the countries in the map of civilization.
The intellectual vacuum which the author refers to at the top of the political leadership, citing some outright stupid utterances of the political leaders in the US, and I can not but stop finding close resemblance in the equally stupid utterances of leadership in India in the aftermath of the Gang rape of a twenty three year old student (Marta referred to the draconian rule mandating girls to be married off, as soon as they reached sixteen, which so closely resembled to the suggestion of certain politicians in India).
'It wasn't safe for a woman to be seen, even a small girl child, at least not in this day and age' writes Marta, is she talking about India? When she writes 'It became acceptable for a lawmaker to state publicly that a woman could not get pregnant from rape or incest; women had magical juices to stop it' , I find a disturbing resemblance in the idiotic idea of a religious leader in India, who stated, in public that the girl who died of brutal gang rape in India, could have saved herself by addressing the rapists as brothers and praying. Stupidity at the highest echelons has become such a global phenomenon.
The novel begins with a beautiful visual imagery of the dawn about to break, and seems to fly on a hopeful journey, but almost immediately we are brought to the ground, flat on our face, as the narrative flows to the little window, to which the world of Jewell is confined to, while she almost a prisoner to her fate, as of other women, she keeps on making exquisite tapestries "sewing the light of the between times into the fabric." She gets to talk only to her father and to her cat, Sable, as her loneliness surrounds the reader.
The story builds on a fragmented society with the implicit demise of middle class as we know it, set in the city of Chicago. With balancing fulcrum of middle class gone or annihilated by the Corporate interest and servile and compliant politics, the human masses are left with no choice but one, to become a resident of a higher or lower city. It is a scary thought and the threat which the the thinking middle class today is under is so evident in the citizen outrages pouring out on the city streets like Syria, Egypt, India and of late, even in Pakistan.
The symbolism of how this evil edge of the selfish polity and commerce, spares none, escapes no one as the sad existence of Ben, Jewell's father together with his colleague and friend Carlos portrays. It is an alarm of wake up, as the conspiratorial forces rise to engulf not only your neighbor but you, the threat is right on our doorsteps. The mass hysteria, only helps those in power to further extend the tyranny (as the mass outrage, on the streets of Delhi, brought about the curfew on the heart of the capital of India), so thoughtfully pointed out of the author who explained the killing of men without trials. We are deceived to believe this as a victory of justice, while it just gives the ruthless power another inch to extend its tentacles into.
The thoughts and convictions of ruler and the ruled is so correctly depicted when the author writes 'The prophecy keeps curfew in place for lower communities. In the upper town, many people no longer believe there is such a thing as the between times.' That is so true, the belief that things will change, keep the oppressed alive and that they won't, keep the oppressor intoxicated in the belief of immortality.
Towards the end, we return to the between times, from where the story begins with a promise, "For during the between times there is magic. Anything can happen." and the promise and the prophecy really comes true in the end, with magic, of course.
The prophecy which stated, A girl will be born who can control the magic of the between times, she will draw all the spirits from the past, present and future together and it will change the world', by the time the book was finished, I so deeply wanted to believe in the prophecy. Was the girl with no name, that girl, or is my little girl going to be that girl? I so wish to find that girl.
In short, this book is sure a must-read those who are struggling every day to keep the faith alive. Go ahead, read this wonderful book, and reaffirm your faith in magic.
Note: This book was gifted to me by Marta, without any intent for review, but it would not be appropriate to let this reading go without a review. The book is available for sale on Amazon.