Books To Take You Away From It All

Monthly Archives: February 2013

Psyche Middleton is a beautiful girl who hates being the object of attention. She would love to just be normal and be liked for herself and not her looks. After she becomes internationally known for portraying Venus, the Goddess of love, she becomes even more jaded. One night at a party she is rescued from an admiring crowd by a mystery guy who can make himself invisible. They have an instant attraction but Erik’s love has one condition – she can never see his face. She finds herself falling quickly for him but ultimately betrays Erik’s trust for one quick glimpse of his face. This betrayal puts her at the mercy of Erik’s mother – a woman who is powerful and merciless. She sets three impossible tasks that Psyche must complete in order to prove her love and fidelity. She must perform these tasks successfully or forfeit Erik’s love – and her own life.

Bubby: OK, I’ll admit it. I read a lot of books that I don’t end up finishing because of two reasons – either they are poorly written or they contain graphic language, violence or sexual content. When I picked up Painted Blind, I was expecting that this would be a book that I wouldn’t finish because it would be full of heaving bosoms and such, just based on the cover. But my mama always said not to judge a book by its cover so I gave it a try. And it paid off! I really enjoyed this take on the story of Cupid and Psyche. You know I’m a sucker for a strong female character and Psyche has strength to spare.

Sissy: Painted Blind is an entertaining spin on the much used human and immortal love story. I enjoyed the fact that the immortals were NOT vampires.

Bubby: You really need to get over this anti-vampire bias. Vampires are people too, even if they are sparkly!

Sissy: NOT getting over the anti-vampire thing. As I was saying, I did enjoy this. It was a good story with fun plot twists and our teenage heroine was not a complete moron. She actually had some altruism. Both of our characters have problems with their good looks. Only Bubby knows how it is to be so beautiful that it’s painful. (Or maybe it’s so painful that it’s beautiful. Not sure which.)

Bubby: Hmm. Not sure how to take that comment, Sissy. I think I shall decide that you just said I’m extremely beautiful, inside and out, and leave it at that. Thank you. Now, back to the story. See, Psyche’s mother (the flightiest, most self-centered and vain woman alive) insisted that Psyche spend her summer modeling in Europe. This resulted in a large billboard on the main street of the Middleton’s small Montana town. Unfortunately, the billboard is of Psyche posing as Venus (as in Boticelli’s painting of “The Birth of Venus”. Google it!) and it’s been photoshopped to imply that Psyche posed nude. Imagine Mr. Middleton’s reaction, not to mention the reaction at Psyche’s school and then at a college frat party. This is where Erik comes in.

Sissy: That is precisely what I was saying about you Bubby. Psyche is in her worst case scenario – a crowded party full of drunk and amorous males all wanting to put a hand on her. Erik swoops in and saves her. Why is Erik there in the first place? Why is Psyche on Erik’s radar? Because Erik’s mother happens to be the Goddess Aphrodite (aka Venus) and she does not like the competition. She sends Erik to get rid of Psyche but that is not what Erik does. No, no, not at all.

Bubby: Nope. I’m pretty sure that Aphrodite never intended Erik and Psyche to fall in love and later in the book you find out just how unhappy she is about the whole thing. But we’re going near spoiler territory now so I will reveal no more! I have to say, though, that I am constantly amazed by these teenage girls who have instant connections to guys who are invisible/immortal/have powers/etc. and aren’t at all concerned about it. If an invisible guy snatched me away from an adoring mob at a party, my first reaction would be concern, not attraction! And if, for instance, my teenage daughter told me she’d fallen in love with an immortal being who could make himself invisible and lived in a fabulous castle in an alternate dimension, I would certainly seek psychiatric help for her right away. I guess that’s why Psyche keeps Erik’s existence a secret from her father. She’s operating on the principle that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission!

Sissy: I always kept my invisible immortal boyfriends a secret from the family. Here is where I will bring up my one issue that I had with the book. Get ready for a rant.

Bubby: Oh, boy. Batten down the hatches, readers!

Sissy: As Bubby said in the beginning, Michelle Hansen kept this book clean, but as with some other young adult books, she pushes it a little for me. What I mean to say is (as in the Twilight books), our boyfriend comes and spends the night quite regularly. They sleep together without becoming intimate. TO me, this gives the wrong message. In the real world, a romantic couple cannot sleep together night after night without becoming intimate. I want to warn any young adults who want to maintain their virtue to not try this at home! It does not work! I wish these authors would just stay clean and not push the boundaries like this.

Bubby: I have to agree. This was the only flaw for me in an otherwise delightful read. I know that virtue is an outdated concept for most of the world, and some of you may scoff at us for finding this to be an issue, but we’re old-fashioned around here. Boyfriend sleepovers notwithstanding, I really enjoyed Painted Blind by Michelle Hansen. I await her next book anxiously. 3 1/2 bubbles.

Sissy: I thought this was a fun book. I will read Michelle Hansen again. 3 bubbles from me.

Click HERE to buy Painted Blind: A Modern Retelling of the Myth of Cupid and Psyche by Michelle Hansen from

Click HERE to buy Painted Blind: A Modern Retelling of the Myth of Cupid and Psyche by Michelle Hansen from

© Bubble Bath Books 2013

Retired government clerk Mr. Ali is driving Mrs. Ali crazy, and so he decides to start a business—a marriage bureau for rich people.  He hangs up a sign and places an ad, and soon, his business is flourishing.  The business brings plenty of excitement to the lives of the Alis—overly specific requirements, challenging customers, mysterious clients—enough so that Mr. Ali hires an assistant, Aruna.  Busy arranging other people’s lives, the Ali’s and Aruna shouldn’t be surprised when fate decides to rearrange their lives too!

Bubby:  I know, I know—we just did a book set in India.  But this book fell into my hands at Barnes and Noble, and I just couldn’t help myself.  Plus, I had Indian food this past weekend, so perhaps I was under the influence.

Sissy:  And you know me—free books (purchased by Bubby) and I’m in!  Also the cover is all scrolly with gold leaf dots and henna hands and very India motif-y in pink, orange, and blue.  Who can resist such a thing?

Bubby:  The very concept of an arranged marriage has always seemed bizarre to me.  I’m pretty sure that’s because my parents’ choice for me would probably have been scary, and not nearly as good as what I chose for myself.  However, as my children get older, I begin to see the wisdom in such arrangements! I love how Farahad Zama throws you right into the deep end of Indian culture—it seems that not a lot has changed in the past several hundred years.  Zama makes no excuses and doesn’t overly explain things—he just assumes you know that’s the way it is.

Sissy:  Yes—things like living with the groom’s parents, adhering to traditional dress, customs, rituals, and foods, dowry and caste system requirements (both illegal)—give us a fascinating look into the world of Indian marriage.  The descriptions of both Muslim and Hindu weddings are very interesting.  Who knew, for example, that in a traditional Brahmin wedding the groom dresses like an austere monk and tries to renounce marriage in pre-ceremony ritual? Or that silver or gold toe rings are placed on the bride’s feet by the groom?

Bubby: I must say my favorite character in the book is a tossup between Mr. Ali’s assistant Aruna and Mrs. Ali.  My favorite line in the book is when Mr. Ali bets Mrs. Ali that she can’t find him an assistant and she says when she wins he must take her out to dinner—not some cheap place, but rather “I want Tandoori chicken!”  she says.  Yes, Mrs. Ali, we all want tandoori chicken.  I love how both Aruna and Mrs. Ali are both very traditional Indian women yet are articulate, intelligent, and have sparkling personalities.

Sissy:  How about yummy Ramanujam?  I won’t tell you what happens with this erstwhile client, but he is straight out of a Bollywood film.  The Marriage Bureau for Rich People started out slow for me but after a few chapters I became invested in the characters and found it to be a delightful story.  Don’t be put off by all our descriptions in the beginning of this review—the culture and flavor of India just weave through this tale and make it colorful and interesting.

Bubby:  I, too, loved Ramanujam.  He is every inch the Indian prince charming.  I advise that before you begin to read this debut novel by Farahad Zama you Google the exchange rate from rupees to dollars.  Guaranteed you will feel very rich, even compared to some of the “rich people” described in the book.  The storytelling, characterizations, and descriptions are delightful and I am interested to read more from this author.

Sissy:  The tale of a matchmaking service in modern-day India certainly opens one’s eyes to how different things still are when you go from the West to the East in the world.  I can’t believe you haven’t mentioned, Bubby, how an Indian gentleman we knew in California once offered our dad $10,000 for me to marry his son.  Dad was speechless and mom nearly went after the guy with her steak knife!

Bubby:  Oh yes—that was a missed opportunity for you, Sissy!  I can see it now—you in your sari living in the home of Mr. and Mrs. M-

Sissy:  Perish the thought!  Horrifying!  I would have taken all the gold bangles and toe rings and run off to Northern Canada (that’s just the most non-India place I can think of).

Bubby:  I thoroughly enjoyed “The Marriage Bureau for Rich People” by Farahad Zama.  I escaped from my white-bread American winter blahs and basked in a mango-scented reverie.  I give it 3 ½ Bubbles.

Sissy:  Earth to mango-scented crazy town:  time to shovel the walks!  I too enjoyed the book, and also give it 3 1/ 2 Bubbles.

Click HERE to buy The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama at

Click HERE to buy The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama at

@2013 Bubble Bath Books

The community allows no pain or fear; war or sorrow.  Jonas thinks he lives in the perfect world, and is eager to receive his assigned role when he turns twelve.  When his time comes Jonas is apprenticed to the Giver, the only person who knows how things really are.  As Jonas learns the truth his whole life changes, and he can never go back.

Sissy:  I chose The Giver by Lois Lowry as my Friday Favorite (actually the whole Giver trilogy)  because it is a beautifully written, thought-provoking story that, although it may seem heavier and more philosophical than our usual fare, manages to give us relationships, magic, and plenty of imagination as well.  Bubby does not agree with this pick, but what she doesn’t know is that I’m also going to fight to review Lowry’s much newer finale to this (now) quartet.  Originally published in 1993, the Giver is the much-loved dystopian tale of sacrifice and redemption.  I’m excited to read the newest book, “The Son,”  to see how the story wraps up.  Hopefully happily so Bubby won’t be annoying and “I told you so”-ing.
Bubby: Well, Sissy, you sure have an opinion today! Wow! O.K. Let me start by saying that I have read The Giver numerous times over the years and i do agree that it is a moving, beautifully written story. However, it’s not exactly what I would qualify as a relaxing, calgon-take-me-away-moment type of book. It’s heavy stuff – lots of weighty issues and thought-provoking moral dilemmas. In fact, many school libraries across the country have had to pull this book off their shelves because parents feel that it is inappropriate for children of any age to read. I do not approve of censorship like that but I do agree that this is a book for older kids and adults and it will bring up some questions that may be hard to answer.
Sissy:  It is also required reading at some schools, and I consider that the “good” kind of required reading, like Pride and Prejudice, not unbearable required reading like most everything else.  I don’t know–sue me, but I thought everyone read The Giver.  And while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that every bibliophile who hasn’t read it is a complete moron (because that would be extremely rude and inappropriate), I will say “read it, ya moron!”  No, just kidding–I would say hey–give it a try (smile, smile).
Bubby: The most interesting part of The Giver for me is the question of personal freedom. What freedoms are you willing to give up in order to have peace? To have wealth? Or health? How far would you go? Is it ok to deny others their freedoms and rights so that you can enjoy yours? And what effect does that have on your humanity? Since Sissy is jumping out of our comfort zone today, I’ll do the same. I have just finished A Memory of Light – the last book in Robert Jordan’s epic series The Wheel of Time. Many of these same issues are discussed in this series. Specifically, it raises the question of whether it is possible to have true happiness, true joy, without having sorrow and pain and grief. I think that the answer is no. I believe that everyone has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” but I also believe that unless you have experienced the bad times it is impossible to recognize the good.
Sissy:  Our main character, Jonas, goes from believing that he lives in a happy utopia to realizing that, just as Bubby explains above, this happiness is false, because one cannot experience true happiness without contrasting feelings, and without freedom of choice.  This is a clear message, thoughtfully woven into fiction, that all people about 6th grade and up should be able to grasp and appreciate.
Bubby: I would make it a little older, maybe 7th or 8th grade simply because of the infanticide and similar adult issues. I am not saying that The Giver is a bad book. It is a great book. You just have to be in the right frame of mind and know what to expect. I would compare it to WonderBread versus homemade whole wheat – one is light and fluffy and has little nutritional value, but it’s easy to digest. The other is dense and hearty with lots of good stuff but it’s a bit harder to chew. Both are good in their own way. I enjoyed The Giver but at this particular point in my life I need more WonderBread and less whole wheat. Because of that, I am giving it only 4 bubbles.
Sissy:  Some days I feel like that too, but other days I want to rant and rave and write letters to my legislators and fix things that are wrong in the world.  My kids all read The Giver by Lois Lowry in the 5th and 6th grades and survived–no budding sociopaths in the lot!  I give this book 4.5 bubbles.

©2013 Bubble Bath Books

Click HERE to buy The Giver by Lois Lowry from

Click HERE to buy The Giver by Lois Lowry from

Breezy Jones loves being the weathercaster for the local station in her small town of Aspen Grove.  Giving accurate weather forecasts is her passion – and she’s good at it. But when the station is sold suddenly, the new management isn’t so crazy about Breezy.  The new general manager, Noah Drake, is all about ratings and he’ll do anything it takes to make the station a success – even if it means replacing Breezy with someone new. As Noah makes more and more changes to the station, conflict rages and the town begins to fight back.  Breezy finds herself increasingly annoyed, and inexplicably attracted to Noah. Does he feel the same? Will she ever get her prized weathercasting job back?
Bubby: If you are in the mood for a light and fluffy romance that is short and sweet (like Sissy), this is the book for you. The author calls it a novella, as it is only 176 pages, but it’s plenty long to keep you happy through one of these long, dreary winter afternoons.
Sissy:  Yes, I looove books like this.  Heather Horrocks writes in a light, entertaining, non-cheesy way and I come away from the reading experience feeling happy and hopeful, (albeit raisiny from my 176 page bathtub soak…)
Bubby: It’s not often that you meet a main character who is so nice and sweet – there is nothing NOT to love about Breezy Jones. Breezy is following in her father’s footsteps as the weather man (weather woman? weather person? . . . .)
Sissy: Possibly Weather Forecaster…
Bubby: Sure. Forecaster. Anyway, she’s always had a love for the weather and even has the college degrees in meteorology to prove it. And yet when her news station gets sold, this know-it-all city boy thinks he can just toss her aside in favor of the stereotypical sexy bimbo weathergirl. That’s a mistake, mister!
Sissy:  The introduction of the character of “Hurricane Pamela” gave me plenty to stew about.  I am so extremely annoyed at the double standard that exists in the media (huge) and plenty of other environments.  We have beloved older gentlemen newscasters who look “distinguished” with their grey hair and their less than stellar waistlines are tolerated, along with their wrinkles and age spots.  But do you see any spotty, wrinkly, chubby, grey-haired women???  No– they get canned as soon as their cleavage sags a millimeter.  I saw a beautiful young singer doing a duet with a male singer who sang well but looked like he had just crawled out from under a rock.  Why is that okay, when the female NEVER would be allowed out or get a contract without being sucked, plumped, and coiffed?
Bubby: Amen, sista! I also had issues with Noah Drake (the new general manager) being so unwilling to believe that Breezy could really be as sweet and nice as she seemed. I think that there are too many women out there who act like Pollyanna to a man’s face but are real pieces of work (if you know what I mean) and it seems like Noah thinks she is that kind of girl.
Sissy:  Sweet and nice do not equal brainless doormat.  Well, having said my piece about that social issue, I shall now speak more about the enjoyable aspects of Pride and Precipitation.  Aspen Grove seems to be a lovely town, and its inhabitants seem loyal, kind, and friendly.  The Chick Flick Clique in my neighborhood needs to be organized immediately–I shall not be president but maybe dessert chairperson.  And, Breezy’s co-workers are a great group–loyal friends as well.
Bubby: Oh, yes! The Chick Flick Clique! That is one of my favorite parts of this book – it’s a group of women who get together once a month at a local restaurant to watch a “Chick Flick”, eat yummy food and have excellent conversation. It’s a fabulous idea – women need a place where they can hang out together and have a little break from the stress and strain of everyday life.
Sissy:  Well, my dear, this book (all of Heather Horrocks’ books I’ve read, actually) are light and refreshing and perfect for those days when the president raises your taxes, you get a flat tire, and your child forgets about their big project and desperately needs your help till midnight ( and your husband snored all night the previous night and you only got 4.6 hrs of sleep and you feel murderous.)  I give Pride and Precipitation by Heather Horrocks 4 out of 5 bubbles.
Bubby: Hey! Your husband snored all night too? Sounds like we need to send ourselves on vacation! But since we can’t, I think I’ll pick up another Heather Horrocks book and have a mini vacation on my couch. A great escape read. Pride and Precipitation gets 3 and ¾ bubbles from me.

Click HERE to buy Pride and Precipitation by Heather Horrocks at


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© Bubble Bath Books 2013


Welcome to Mitford, North Carolina where the hills are green, the air is clean and the people are downright neighborly. This is the home of Father Tim, a late-middle-aged bachelor Episcopal priest who is somewhat unsatisfied with himself and his calling. In his search for a more meaningful life, Father Tim is about to get more than he ever bargained for – a new dog, a new neighbor and lots of new challenges – all of which will make Father Tim’s life better and richer than he could possibly have imagined.

Bubby: I have loved the Mitford books since they first came out, back in 1996. They are ALWAYS clean, uplifting and entertaining – rare qualities in books these days. I love the characters – they are well drawn and really feel like friends right from the beginning.

Sissy: I too have enjoyed Jan Karon’s Father Tim series, although I could only read two in a row and then I would have to give myself a break and then come back and read more. Mitford sounds like an idyllic town but having lived in small towns myself, I know that there are downsides as well. Father Tim has to deal with everybody knowing everybody’s business and everybody wanting to know his – especially all the middle-aged single women. I do love Father Tim.

Bubby: You know, it’s been quite a while since I’ve read this book but the characters have stuck with me the whole time. First there is Emma Garrett, Father Tim’s nosy but loving secretary. I’d love to meet this woman. She sounds like an Episcopalian version of my dearly departed Aunt Hermoine. Loud, sassy, brassy and fabulous! Then there is the new neighbor, Cynthia. Oh how Father Tim wants to dislike this woman! And we can’t forget little Dooley, the boy who needs lots of love and care and has nowhere to turn but to Father Tim. And Esther – the lady who bakes the fantastic orange marmalade cakes.

Sissy:  Father Tim, in case you wondered, is an Episcopalian priest, ( in case you didn’t catch that in the synopsis) and therefore allowed to have romance and marriage.  His quirky relationship with new neighbor Cynthia is fun to watch unfold.  I was surprised when I saw reviews from people who don’t like this series– they accused it of being too “nice,”  or “unexciting,” or too “non-cerebral.”  While I agree that this is not the stuff of Oprah’s book club or of the Hunger Games excitement league, sometimes its nice to read about good, wholesome people doing good things.  And these characters do have unique quirks and endearing traits a-plenty.

Bubby: I also saw comments saying that Jan Karon’s writing isn’t realistic or true-to-life and has too much “religious content”. Hallelujah! I find that real life is either not very interesting or way too painful or dramatic! I don’t want real life in my reading – I want something that makes me happy, that has a good ending and that spiffs up my day. Jan Karon’s Mitford series does that in spades. And who reads a book about a priest without expecting to run into a scripture or two? It’s good for you. Trust me. The series isn’t static, either. Even though our main character is an older gentleman, he still goes through the whole gamut of emotions and experiences, from love to fatherhood, sorrow and joy. It’s all there.

Sissy: Yes! And who says that just because you’re in your 50’s that means life is over and you’re all washed up and crinkled?

Bubby: Actually . . .

Sissy: I am not done. Who says that just because your jowls are sagging you don’t still need love? Love, romance, excitement, adventure? Who says you don’t still have the same feelings you had in your 20’s? You’re just a little bit wiser.

Bubby: And . . .

Sissy: Not done yet. And when you are in your 50’s, you know who you are and you have half your life left to get it right. That’s why I like Father Tim and Cynthia. I get tired of these perky little 20 and 30 year olds running around acting like they are the only ones who are important.

Bubby: *Raising hand* Can I speak now, Sissy? Or are you STILL not done?

Sissy: No one has to worry about you not getting your say in, Bubby. I’ve never worried about that our whole life!

Bubby: I’ll take that as a yes. I was trying to agree with you, dear one (not that you actually have ANY first-hand knowledge about being in your 50’s.) We review a lot of Young Adult fiction here and it’s refreshing to have an older protagonist for a change. Give At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon a read – or a re-read in my case. You’ll feel all warm and happy inside when you’re done! 4 bubbles.

Sissy: Father Tim and company get 4 bubbles from me as well. Take that, you young whippersnappers! You kids get off my lawn!

Click HERE to buy At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon from

Click HERE to buy At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon from

©Bubble Bath Books 2013

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When veterinarian Joy Hudson returns to her hometown to help care for her aging father all the trauma of her senior year in high school also returns with a vengeance.  For eighteen years she has tried to erase her painful memories of her best friend’s tragic death.  Now she has to face the boy she blames, who is now the handsome doctor of her parents.  Joy is even more troubled by spooky occurrences in her new home, and the fear that someone is trying to harm her.  Finding answers about the past and dealing with the troubles of the present will take all the courage that Joy has.

Bubby: I wasn’t sure what to think of this book after the first few pages. It seemed like it was heading in the direction of the “I used to love him but I was young and stupid and now – oh wait! I still love him! Smooches all round!” romance novels that are a dime a dozen. Boy howdy was I wrong! In this great book by Edie Claire we have romance (naturally!), mystery, a ghost and even a big fluffy dog! What’s not to like!

Sissy:  Edie Claire is a good writer, and I was so thrilled to discover her (and she has written a lot of books that I now can read!).  Yes, it has all the elements Bubby mentioned, plus some danger and an attempted murder.  But BEST of all, it is a STAND ALONE mystery.  No repeat murders, no plethora of bodies, (a new one every 6 months!) just one death that was traumatic enough to last a whole lifetime.  As it should be.

Bubby: Oh, gosh. Didn’t we just talk about your issues in the last review? I think you need to see a cozy mystery therapist. My goodness. I think that perhaps someone hit you on the head with a cozy mystery when you were small and now – now you have a pathological fear of them. At any rate, this is a wonderful story. I found myself imagining how my life would have been different had my best friend died during our senior year in high school. (She didn’t. She is alive and well and happily married with two adorable boys! Hooray!) I don’t think I would have dealt even as well as Joy did. I would have ended up in the loony bin for sure.

Sissy:  I agree–we’ve barely managed to keep you out of there as it is.  And please note that even though I have issues with cozy mysteries, we still read and review them.  And how many gothic romances have we read and reviewed (remember, those ones you hate)?  Zero.  So, yes, I enjoyed the plot line, the romance, the paranormal aspect that kept me guessing, and the wonderful conclusion.

Bubby: Fine. You get to choose all the books from now on. Yep. All you. Wait! What am I saying? What, am I crazy? Ha! I really enjoy a plot that keeps me interested and guessing all the way until the end. Being the incredibly intelligent and intuitive person I am, it is often too easy for me to guess the culprit far too early in the book. One of the burdens I must live with, I guess. But Edie Claire kept me in the dark – so much so that when the perpetrator is finally revealed, I found myself yelling “NO! Don’t go with — ! — is the killer! —- is the killer!”

Sissy:  To answer your second question, Bubby–yes.  When Bubby was little and yelled out to herself we used to sedate her and put her in a special room.  But, I must agree that the writer surprised us (although Bubby’s many hours in her special room helped her hone her intuitive skills, so she wasn’t as surprised I’m sure.)  Emotionally engaging, suspenseful and spooky–Long Time Coming by Edie Claire gets 4 bubbles from me.

Bubby: You know that I’m going to haunt you when I die – just for comments like that. Oh wait – you’ll die first since you’re MUCH MUCH older. Anyway, I truly enjoyed Long Time Coming. Well written, great characters, nice dog. Can’t wait to read more by this author. 4 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy at Long Time Coming by Edie Claire at

The Far Pavilions is a sweeping epic of India in the 1800’s.  Ashton Pelham-Martyn was born in India to British parents but was raised as a native Indian after the death of his parents, making him never feel completely at home in either culture. Anjuli is a half-caste princess whose mixed background also causes her tribulation and pain. The story takes the reader on a rich journey through wars, tribulations, hope and romance, teaching us that love can truly conquer all in the end.

Sissy: Back in the day when I first read this I was enchanted by the imagery and senses evoked by the writing in this epic tale.  I could see the purple shadowed “Far Pavilions” mountains, smell the spices of India and see the bright, bold saris worn by the Indian Princesses.  I wanted to go to India then, and I still do.

Bubby: I really feel that we should stop writing right now and pop off to “The Bombay House” and fortify ourselves with a little chicken kurma and roti. Seems appropriate, doesn’t it Sissy?
Sissy:  Ah, that sounds divine!
Bubby: As I was refreshing my memory of this book I found that I could get the 1984 miniseries (Ben Cross, Omar Sharif!) and immediately started watching it – boy did I get comments from the kids! I didn’t get to finish so if you can’t get my attention in the next few days, it’s because I’m watching The Far Pavilions! It’s such a grand sweeping epic – not to be missed, either in book form or movie.
Sissy:  I remember when the miniseries came out–I was so excited.  I was skeptical about Amy
Irving playing an Indian princess, but she pulled it off.  This go round I listened to the “The Far Pavilions” on fully dramatized audiobook, and it was great.  I loved the music and the accents.  It is frustrating, though, to hear all that they have to go through before they finally get together (is that a spoiler?).  Princess Anjuli is too loyal to her sister, in my opinion, and that causes lots of unnecessary anguish.
Bubby: I have to say that I fell in love with our main characters just for their names. Who can resist Princess Anjuli and Ashton Pelham-Martyn? Just delicious. Add to that the story of a boy who is English but was unknowingly raised Indian, a forbidden love affair and the struggles between British rule and Indian autonomy. Fabulous.
Sissy:  Agreed.  I also am going to watch the mini-series so that I can have the full sensory experience again.  One of my favorite characters was Koda Dad, the protector of the princesses and the prince, who also becomes close to Ash.  Played by Omar Sharif in the mini-series, by the way.
Bubby: Omar Sharif! He’s up there with Sean Connery and Cary Grant in the fantastic hot old guys list. Sorry, I got distracted there for a minute. Wow – you should all hear the noise that is coming from Sissy’s kitchen right now. Sounds like a herd of rabid rampaging elephants! M.M. Kaye is one of the most descriptive writers I have ever had the privilege of reading. Within the first 20 pages you feel that you are right there in India in the 1800’s. You can almost smell and taste and feel everything that she is writing about. It’s rather amazing.
Sissy:  I’ve sent the elephants back to the Maharaja’s stables, now, and I’ll have Mustaq, the stable boy, clean up their “leavings.”  After that I shall retire to my mosquito netting covered bed, pat some patchouli on my temples, drink some mango lassi, and finger my forehead jewel.  M.M. Kaye’s sweeping epic of romance and adventure in colonial India inspires me thus, and I give it 4 bubbles.
Bubby: I have to put in a few disclaimers before I rate this book. First off, this is a HUGE book – 960 pages. Secondly, it is violent. We have wars, uprisings, ritual burnings – but it’s not gory. And all the violence is integral to the storyline. Thirdly, the ending is not storybook perfect. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not Disney Princesses happy ever after. All this being said, I still think everyone should read The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye at least once in their life. And watch the miniseries too. 5 bubbles.