Monday, September 16, 2013

Reading Lists - Stories of India

The Space Between Us by Thrity N. Umrigar – The author vividly captures the social struggles of modern India in a luminous, readable novel of honor, tradition, class, gender, and family. This is a portrayal of two women discovering an emotional rapport as they struggle against the confines of a rigid caste system, which may ultimately tear apart the bonds they share.

Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn - Lady Julia Grey and her detective husband hurry to India to aid an old friend, the newly widowed Jane Cavendish. Jane is consumed with discovering the truth about her husband's death. Was he murdered for his estate? And if he was, could Jane and her unborn child be next?

Shadow Princess by Indu Sundaresan – The author returns to seventeenth-century India, as two princesses struggle for supremacy of their father’s kingdom. Trapped in the shadow of the magnificent tomb their grief-stricken father is building for his beloved deceased wife, the Taj Mahal, the emperor’s daughters compete for everything: control over the imperial harem, their father’s affection, and the future of their country.

Serious Men: A Novel by Joseph Manu - Ayyan Mani will not be constrained by Indian traditions. Despite working at the Institute of Theory and Research in Mumbai as the lowly personal assistant to a brilliant but insufferable astronomer, he dreams of more for himself and his family.
Ever wily and ambitious, Ayyan weaves two plots: the first to cheer up his weary, soap-opera-addicted wife by creating outrageous fictions around their ten-year-old son; the other to sabotage the married director by using his boss’s seeming romance with the institute’s first female—and very attractive—researcher.

The Pleasure Seekers: A Novel by Tishani Doshi - Meet the Patel-Joneses—Babo, Sian, Mayuri, and Bean—in their little house with orange and black gates next door to the Punjab Women's Association in Madras. Babo grew up here, but he and Sian, his cream-skinned Welsh love, met in London. Babo's parents disapproved. And then they disapproved unless the couple moved back to Madras. So here they are. And as the twentieth century creaks and croaks its way along, Babo, Sian, and the children navigate their way through the uncharted territory of a "hybrid" family.

East of the Sun: A Novel by Julia Gregson - As the Kaisar-I-Hind weighs anchor for Bombay in the autumn of 1928, its passengers ponder their fate in a distant land. They are part of the “Fishing Fleet”—the name given to the legions of English women who sail to India each year in search of husbands, heedless of the life that awaits them. The inexperienced chaperone Viva Holloway has been entrusted to watch over three unsettling charges. There’s Rose, as beautiful as she is naïve, who plans to marry a cavalry officer she has met a mere handful of times. Her bridesmaid, Victoria, is hell-bent on losing her virginity en route before finding a husband of her own. And shadowing them all is the malevolent presence of a disturbed schoolboy named Guy Glover.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama - Bored with retirement, Mr. Ali sets up a desk, puts up a sign, and waits for customers for his new matchmaking business. Some clients are a mystery. Some are a challenge. Mr. Ali's assistant, Aruna, finds it a learning experience. But without a dowry, Aruna has no expectation of a match for herself. Then again, as people go about planning their lives, sometimes fate is making other arrangements.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Movie Lists - Musicals

The Samuels Library staff loves musicals.  It’s true—on any given day you might hear a reference librarian break into song, see a circulation aide start dancing down the aisle while shelving books, or witness the entire children’s department spontaneously launch into an impromptu performance of The Sound of Music.  Luckily for you, we also have a great collection of musicals you can check out on DVD, including the following:     

42nd Street (1933)
42nd Street is one of the best backstage musicals, a popular form of the genre that features a behind-the-scenes look at a Broadway revue. The story of a production company struggling to put on a great performance is compelling, but the dazzling musical numbers directed by Busby Berkley steal the show.

Top Hat (1935)
Never has there been a more charming screen couple than the dancing duo of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. His class and her allure are a perfect match in movies like Top Hat, a delightful comedy about mistaken identity. Contains songs by Irving Berlin, including his classic “Cheek to Cheek.”   

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
Proving he could do more than just play gangster tough guys, Jimmy Cagney gives a charismatic, Best Actor-winning performance as vaudeville showman and composer George M. Cohan. You’ll feel your heart swelling with patriotic pride when Cagney sings “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Over There.”

Singin’ In the Rain (1952)
One of the most beloved movies of all time, Singin’ In the Rain contains memorable songs and some of the most spectacular dance sequences ever. It’s also one of the best movies about movies, telling the story of silent movie star Don Lockwood’s (Gene Kelly) attempt to make the transition to sound films.

Oklahoma! (1955)
“Ooooo-klahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain!”  Chances are you know this famous Rodgers and Hammerstein lyric even if you don’t know much about musicals. There’s also a good chance you’ll love this splendid movie about two cowboys attempting to woo two fair Oklahoman ladies. 

Gigi (1958)
Two years after hitting it big on Broadway with My Fair Lady, the songwriting team of Lerner and Loewe delivered another classic, this time for the big screen. A witty tale of romance between a wealthy Parisian playboy and an innocent young courtesan, Gigi won 9 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.    

West Side Story (1961)
Star-crossed lovers Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer) are doomed by different ethnic backgrounds in this clever update of Romeo and Juliet. The score by Elmer Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim ranges from funny (“Gee, Officer Krupke”) to achingly beautiful (“Somewhere”). 

Mary Poppins (1964)
Composers of many of the classic Disney tunes, the Sherman Brothers are often overlooked in discussions of great American songwriters. The songs for Mary Poppins rank with their best, and Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke give thrilling performances in a film that will wow viewers of all ages.    

Cabaret (1972)
Cabaret, with its realistic settings and characters, is a fine example of how the musical had matured by the 1970s. Set in Germany in the 1930s, the film follows the free-spirited Sally Bowles (Liza Minelli), a performer at the Kit Kat Club, against a backdrop of national tension created by the growing Nazi Party.    

Grease (1978)
Guys with leather jackets and greased back hair and girls in poodle skirts and saddle shoes—it’s everybody’s favorite musical celebration of the 1950s, Grease. Smash radio hits “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One That I Want” prove to be just as good as they were in 1978. 

Yentl (1983)
Barbra Streisand directed, co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in this musical about a Jewish girl who dresses like a boy in order to study the Talmud. The film was a passion project for Streisand, who labored for over a decade to get this adaptation of an Isaac Bashevis Singer story onto the big screen.       

Newsies (1992)
A young Christian Bale (of Batman fame) stars in this delightful latter-day Disney film about a
newspaper strike at the turn of the 20th century. The score was co-written by composer Alan Menken, who is most famous for his musical contributions to The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.

Chicago (2002)
Two murderesses (played by Rene Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones) become media sensations in the Roaring Twenties thanks to their slick lawyer (Richard Gere).  When Chicago won Best Picture in 2003, it was the first time a musical had brought home the coveted award since Oliver! in 1969. 

Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler star in the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s beloved musical. Living in an underground lair beneath the Opéra Populaire in Paris, the disfigured Phantom (Butler) obsesses over the lovely Christine (Rossum), a talented singer for the opera. 
Mamma Mia! (2008)
It’s a musical based on the songs of the group ABBA—need I say more?  Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is getting married on the lovely Greek island of Kalokairi, and she has secretly invited three of her mother’s (Meryl Streep) old flames in hopes of discovering her real father.

Les Misérables (2012)
A large ensemble cast, including Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, brings Victor Hugo’s epic French novel to life in this acclaimed adaptation. In an innovative move by director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), all of the vocals for the songs were recorded live on set to give them a more natural feel. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Reading lists - Purr-fect Partners in Crime

Every good detective needs a loyal sidekick and sometimes it’s the faithful, feline kind.

Murder she meowed by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie
Participating in the annual steeplechase races at Montpelier, postmistress Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen investigates a jockey's murder with the help of her sleuthing tiger cat, Mrs. Murphy.

The cat who could read backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun
A stabbing in an art gallery, vandalized paintings, a fatal fall - this is not what Jim Qwilleran expects when he turns his reportorial talents to art. But with his partner, Koko the Siamese cat, he sniffs out clues and confounds criminals’ intent on mayhem and murder.

Cat in a flamingo fedora by Carole Nelson Douglas
Midnight Louie, the crime-fighting cat, and his human partner, Temple Barr, become embroiled in the murder of comic actor Darren Cooke when they set out find a killer.

What the cat saw by Caroline Hart
Ever since the death of her fiancé, Nela Farley has found herself plagued by a sixth sense: she understands the thoughts of cats when she looks into their eyes. Nela knows that what she’s experiencing is completely irrational.  She wants to ignore what the cat saw, but the idea that the death of former tenant Marian Grant wasn't an accident is something she can't ignore.

Scratch the surface by Susan Conant
The author of a popular series of cat mysteries, Felicity Pride turns sleuth when she finds a cat and a corpse on her doorstep, investigating suspects that range from an avid pet-hater and a highbrow professor to her primary rival in the field.

To catch a cat by Marian Babson
Eleven-year-old Robin wants to join a popular gang at school. They'll accept him, though only if he kidnaps the prize-winning cat of old Mrs. Nordling first. When Robin sneaks into the Nordlings' house in the dark of night, he gets more than just a schoolyard thrill. An argument, strange sounds, a woman's cry, and the cat, hurled out of a room, are all Robin needs to grab the frisky kitty and get packing.

Curiosity thrilled the cat by Sofie Kelly
Small-town librarian Kathleen Paulson had no idea two stray cats could nuzzle their way into her life. But when murder interrupts Maryville Heights' music festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect. She's relying on Owen and Hercules to solve a purr-fect murder.

Cat laughing last by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
When celebrated novelist Elliot Traynor and his wife arrive in Molena Point, strange events begin to occur, and feline sleuth Joe Grey and his cat companion Dulcie must delve into their latest mystery and soon find themselves tracking a killer.