Read, Knit: The Tea Planter’s Wife

Back in the day, when I was younger and full of tragic heroine’s angst, I would have lapped this book up in a heart-beat, but now that I’m older, not so much.  This is not to say that this book is not a good read, it’s just no longer my cup of tea.

The story is set in colonial Ceylon and it’s protagonist is Gwen — a naive nineteen year old who has become married to a mysterious tea plantation owner after an extremely fast  courtship.  She then travels from London to Ceylon, excited about her new life and head over heels in love with her new husband.  She arrives to find that he’s not the same man she married, that excitement she had to run her own household is dampened by the mistrust and resentment of the plantation’s servants, that her sister in law seems hellbent on breaking up her marriage and of course, there is another woman in her husband’s life whose complicated presence Gwen doesn’t understand.  Enter stage left, a local man who has piqued Gwen’s own interest, then last but not least, the secrecy of what happened to her husband’s first wife.

The book in some ways reminded me of Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea.  The air of secrecy, this “thing” that everyone knows except the protagonist, story set against a colonial backdrop.  Then all of a sudden, it’s discovered that even the protagonist has her own secrets which added a smidgen more drama to the plot.  I really liked the author’s prose and descriptions of the culture and country were beautifully done.  But that’s where it ended for me.  I just never became invested in the characters.  The protagonist made choices that I didn’t understand or could relate to.  I also thought the plot was predictable.  The book had a slow start, gained momentum in the middle but the end was as I expected.   For the fans of this genre, this book would be an absolute love,  in my case, I like it, but I don’t love it.  It held my attention enough so I could practice reading and knitting together.  That’s a good thing right?

The Planter's Wife

Author’s Website: Dinah Jefferies

Knit Pattern: Boden from Nice & Knit

disclaimer: this review was done through my affiliation with Blogging For Books.  Although I received a copy for review, the thoughts expressed are entirely my own.

Book Review: Design The Life You Love

I’ve had this book since January and  wanted to take my time with it.   You know how it is, the year starts and we want to work on our lives, make it better, make positive changes.  I wasn’t sure what expect from “Design The Life You Love”; I hoped it was not going to be trite and unrealistic and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

The author,  Ayse Birsel, used the skills she’s known for — design — to cement the idea that our lives are worthy of looking at introspectively and creatively so we can live them to the fullest.  She likens life to a design project and encourages the reader to deconstruct,  look at his/her life from a different perspective, reconstruct, then give whatever positive changes we develop expression or form.  These concepts were not foreign at all, that’s exactly how we makers tackle knit and other fiber arts projects.  She uses drawing and design to explain her theories/ideas, but although I absolutely suck at drawing, as a yarn/fiber artist, the concepts were still easy to grasp.  For the exercises, anything I couldn’t draw, I crafted with yarn or pictures cut out from a magazine.  😀

I know others who have used this book didn’t like the fact that the author used her specific creative medium to share the concepts and I can see how that is limiting.  However, I believe everyone has creativity in them and all readers should use whatever mediums they have at their disposal to assess the principles shared.

The layout of the book is clear and very easy to use.  The author recommends spending 20 minutes a day with the content/exercises and your life’s design and I agree.  The content provides enough interaction and food for thought in that amount of time.  Plus the structured time limit allows you to pace yourself and really savor the experience of each session instead of barreling through the book.  The typography used provides many opportunities to do some coloring and I really enjoy doing that.  That in itself allows for even more creative expression.

Let me say however, this book is not a fix-it all book.  Although it encourages us to look at our lives as design projects, to embrace the constraints and limitations as opportunities to change our perception, it’s not a magic pill or a substitute for anyone needing clinical therapy.  It provides a starting point, encouragement to explore, a different perspective and some good ole common sense.

I am enjoying reading/using it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it as a starting point for anyone who’s willing to look at designing a life he/she loves a little differently, a little more creatively, with just the right amount of playfulness.

Disclaimer: this review was done through my affiliation with Blogging For Books.  Although I received a copy for review, the thoughts expressed are entirely my own.