Sunday, 10 September 2017

Ten Goals for Autumn!

Autumn (1870-90)
Emile Eisman Semenowsky
source ArtUK

Since I normally post bookish-type posts, I thought I'd change it up today.  Inspired by one of O's posts on Twitter, I've decided to post some goals with regard to autumn.  So often we get distracted by the big picture and forget to appreciate the little things in life. Therefore, I've picked ten goals that focus on the wee, meaningful aspects of life that really are much more worthwhile than a day at a shopping mall, or painting the porch steps, or doing your taxes, or surfing the web.  


1.  Draw a picture of something in nature, such a leaf or tree or insect.  My drawing skills are not superb so you'll just have to put up with me for this one.

Sketch of Countryside (c. 1890)
Nicholas Roerich
source Wikiart


2.  Walk barefoot in the ocean.  Perhaps I'm a tiny bit crazy but I will have a chance to do this a couple of times before autumn is over.

The Charmer (1911)
John William Waterhouse
source Wikiart


3.  Do something kind for someone else.  I like to think I'm a kind person but I'm not always sure it comes naturally.  We all need practice, right?

Charity of St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Frederic Leighton
source Wikiart

4.  Put my feet up.  I'm sure NONE of you have even guessed that I'm quite a busy person and don't often slow down.  Well, I admit it.  Leisure is a lost yet necessary pastime for our mental well-being.  Really, I need to practice this more than once.  Will someone join me?

Solitude (1890)
Frederic Leighton
source Wikiart

5.  Cloud gaze.  The last time I did this was with friends, laying in the middle of a frozen pond late at night.  It was so peaceful with the moon shining down ..... as if you were the only ones left in the world.  The feeling we experienced was indescribable.  Definitely a time to remember.

Ophelia (1889)
John William Waterhouse
source Wikiart


6.  Make a new meal.  This shouldn't be difficult.  A friend and I have started a new food blog called Journey to the Garden, so I'm going to be spending lots of time in the kitchen.  I really love cooking yet I hope to hit on at least one meal during this time that's spectacular.

Prayer Before Meal (1660)
Jan Steen
source Wikiart

7.  Be computer-less for one day.  I'm not sure this is possible, but I'm going to try. Honestly, there's very little I do on the computer other than blogging and taking a few courses, but I am on it every day.  I would LOVE to have a day per week where I don't use it.  Now THAT'S dreaming .....


What a Freedom (1903)
Ilya Repin
source Wikiart

8.  Read a poem slowly and REALLY think about it.  Poetry is a new interest of mine, but being new at reading it, I'm not very good at drawing meaning out of it.  Often good poetry can have dual meanings and symbolism, and imagery and a number of other different things.  I need to read it more slowly instead of rushing.

Young Man Reading by Candle Light
Matthais Stom
source Wikiart

9.  Pet or see an animal that's not domesticated.  Well, I could cheat and visit my neighbour's wolves but I'm not going to.  However, they would probably fall under the "domesticated" umbrella and not count.  We'll see if this one comes to fruition.

Dante and Virgil Meet the Wild Animals in the Forest (1800)
Joseph Anton Koch
source Wikiart

10.  Intentionally say something nice to someone at least 5 days out of 7 during one week.  No, this is not the same as goal #3.  Saying is much easier than doing ...... which is why I've challenged myself to do it 5 times during the week.  We take each other too much for granted and don't often say the appreciated or kind things that we should.  Time to change that.

Charity (1878)
William-Adolphe Bourguereau
source Wikiart

As I've been listing these goals, two themes have stood out for me:  KINDNESS and REST/LEISURE ..... well, perhaps three ...... NATURE is in there as well.  So just by brainstorming some goals, I've learnt something about myself:  I need to practice more kindness, take more time to relax and spend more time in nature.  Rather than being "Cleo-specific goals", these are things we all probably need to do, so whoever wants to take a few goals from my list and see if you can accomplish them, please do!  And please let me know how they turned out!


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Tears, Idle Tears by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Well, I have proven very predictable.  Following my usual pattern for the Deal Me In Challenge of getting off to a great and very consistent start, I then quickly fell behind schedule.  Do I care?  Yes!  I'm usually a very consistent person --- a loyal friend, a hard worker, a steady blogger (yes, this is important too!) ---- so it really bothers me when I don't stick to a challenge.  However, I have some very consistent blogger friends whom I won't mention, whose dedication to challenges continually convicts me (oh okay, I will mention them ---- O, I'm referring to you!), so with their gentle reminders, I've decided to pick up where I left off and hopefully get some momentum to finish this challenge well.

Finally, oh finally! I drew a poem, my first poem of the challenge so far in 11 choices. What are the odds of that?  Perhaps I should buy a lottery ticket!

Written in 1847 as a song from one of his longer poems The Princess, Tears, Idle Tears, a lyric poem, was composed in blank verse and is said to be one of the few poems where Tennyson conveys his personal sentiments in his works.  Tennyson claims he wrote it after a visit to Tintern Abbey, which was abandoned in 1536 and for him held "the passion of the past, abiding in the transient."  He said, it was "full for me of its bygone memories ......"

Tintern Abbey
courtesy of Saffron Blaze
Source


Tears, Idle Tears by Alfred Lord Tennyson


     Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.

      Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

      Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

      Dear as remember'd kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign'd
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more!

Wow! I remember really liking this poem when I was younger but now it seems all melancholy and sad and depressing.  But really, should have I expected more from Tennyson based on my familiarity with one of this other poems (and one of my absolute favourites!), The Lady of Shallot? ---- lots of crying out and isolation and cracking and curses ...... no, why am I at all surprised?


Tinturn Abbey (inside)
source Wikipedia

So, now for my rather amateur analysis ....... the first aspect of the poem that stood out for me was his initial confusion.  He doesn't recognize the tears or connect them with anything at first.  They come from deep within him.  Does that highlight man's propensity to live a rather shallow life?  --- to live in the moment without ever doing any deeper self-examination?  And does it also highlight how capricious time is; that it slips away without us even noticing?

The autumn setting gives the poem a melancholy feel as summer has passed, and the passing of summer means less sunshine and happy times, and the death of leaves and greenery as the scenery turns from bright colours and greens to a burnished and faded scene.

Regret is an obvious theme and Tennyson takes us to the underworld, which I assume is really the memories of the dead whom he loved, yet these memories bring him sadness. He is not focusing on the happiness experienced during those times, but the loss of them.

These memories now seem very far away to him, so much so that the very experiences he participated in now appear strange to him.  The casement is shrinking in his vision, perhaps the approach of death?

At least, he feels the memories are dear and sweet, but he acknowledges the death of those times, a death that has happened before he himself has died.  There is nothing uplifting in his remembrance.

Farringford, Tennyson's residence of the Isle of Wright
source Wikipedia

Good heavens!  Yes, lots of tears and despair and sinking and sadness and strangeness and dying.  It would be fascinating to travel back in time and find out just what was going on in Tennyson's life and head when he wrote it.

Next up for my Deal Me In Challenge is a children's classic called Teddy's Button by Amy LeFeuvre.






Sunday, 3 September 2017

September ~ Big Changes and the Food Blog has Launched!!!


A September Day (1935)
George Henry
source Wikiar



When summer's end is nighing
       And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
       And all the feats I vowed
       When I was young and proud.

......


So here's an end of roaming

       On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
       For summer's parting sighs,
       And then the heart replies.


Selections from a rather mournful end-of-summer poem by A E Housman but it fits with my mood as the slow summer days slip into the cool evenings of September.  I'm feeling rather nostalgic as autumn will soon be approaching and my life will be changing for a number of reasons. While my job for the last number of years has been amazing, and fulfilling, and interesting, it's time to move on and I'm not quite sure what I want to do. I'm an accounting clerk by trade, as much as I enjoy it, it's not my natural inclination but what is?  What would I really enjoy doing?  Food blogging?  Freelance writing?  Property management?  All these options have popped into my head lately but I think I'll have to wait and see where I'm taken before I know for sure.

The start of the Rockies
heading west ....
© Cleo @ Classical Carousel
As for August happenings, we went for a roadtrip through the Rocky Mountains, past Calgary and eventually ending up in Regina, which took us through three Canadian provinces, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.  Call me biased, but my favourite part of the trip was the drive through B.C.  Honestly, it's so beautiful and in many places, so untouched.  Except for the summer forest fires, of course, and we actually ended up driving through one near Golden, B.C.  We were stopped on the highway for quite awhile, while helicopters flew overhead, dipping their buckets in the river and dumping them on the fire.  We could actually see a few flames through the trees as we went by.  Yikes!  Rather scary! Our drive through the Rockies was wonderful as their stony peaks stretched to the sky ---- I can imagine how spectacular they are all covered in snow.

Lake Louise, Alberta
© Cleo @ Classical Carousel
We also stopped in two lovely spots in Alberta ---- Lake Louise and Banff.  The scenic beauty of them was breathtaking but so were the number of tourists, although I suppose that's what you'd expect in the height of summer.  Drumheller, Alberta is the site of the Royal Tyrrell Museum, a well-known tourist attraction that has over 130,000 fossils, numerous dinosaur skeletons and replicas of those great beasts. It was fascinating, especially to see the best preserved remains of the largest armoured dinosaur in the world, the Borealopelta markmitchelli which was found in Alberta (here's a Guardian article about him).  He's quite an imposing looking specimen and I wouldn't want to meet him anywhere!


© Cleo @ Classical Carousel
After Calgary, the prairies stretched out endlessly ........ and I mean endlessly ......  I drove for hours and was bored out of my mind.  Endless (ooops, did I say that already) wheat fields, and straight roads and huge bugs that squashed against your windshield and the front of your car, only to have hordes of wasps swarm the car to eat the guts when you stopped.  Sorry to be so graphic but - Ugh!!!  Later I was told I had passed through the Alberta Badlands and they certainly lived up to their name. Saskatchewan was much better, with clusters of trees here and there (but even bigger bugs) and some nice houses tucked into them.  Coming from an area that has mountains and hills and valleys and trees (soooo many trees) and rivers and lakes and the ocean, it was a very different experience.  However, on the way back I enjoyed the scenery, so I obviously became used to the flat prairie landscape.  But lest you think I'm too hard on my provincial neighbours, I'll share a most wonderful trait from the prairies that we lack on the west coast of B.C. ......... friendliness and politeness.  I was shocked to have workers in stores actually acknowledge my existence when I walked in, make eye contact, greet me politely and ask how I was before they very gladly served me.  Gasp!  Where were the stares and the glowers and the resentment that the worker would actually have to move and serve me, and that was only after having to insert oneself in front of them to get their attention?  The Vancouver area needs a severe lesson in customer service.  In any case, the trip, although quick, was fun and interesting and I was glad to be able to see more of Canada than I'd ever seen before.

Oh, and my garden news ....... zucchinis and cucumbers are doing well, a good harvest of blueberries and figs, my potatoes are ready to be dug, my cabbage, collard greens and kale are still growing, and I should have some plums, quince and apples ready soon.  It was a good year for growing!

© Cleo @ Classical Carousel

I was fortunate to get another short island vacation and was finally able to read!  I finished Shadow of the Moon, a wonderful book by M.M. Kaye about the Sepoy rebellion in India in 1857 and the focus of Cirtnecce's wonderful read-along, began to read The Republic, Dead Souls, and Plutarch's Lives.  I've also begun a re-read of The Iliad, which I'm highly enjoying.

As for September, I'm going to be looking into some job opportunities, trying out a gym my friend recommended that has a type of boot camp, and finding another yoga studio because the one I was going to closed down and I am missing my yoga.  I'm also going away on a few trips, one to the island and one to Calgary, so I'm still somewhat of a gad-about.  I also started a course in ancient Greek and I must say, I'm really enjoying it.  It's tough but it's fun to get back to studying and being diligent.

Reading in September?  Well, as much as I'm enjoying my ancient literature, I'd like to add something else to the mix.  What?  Honestly, I'm not entirely sure.  I am going to start reading Crime and Punishment for sure.  Otherwise I have The Last Chronicle of Barset to finish up and I was just reminded about my trek through Zola's The Rougon-Marquart series where I'm on the fifth book, The Dream.  Oh, and Augustine --- I'll continue with his City of God and hopefully make some headway.  So there ---- I have a very unpredictable reading schedule for September.  We'll see where I end up.

And now for the biggest shock of the post, our food blog is actually launched!  Woo hoo! I thought it would never happen at times, but we buckled down, did a big last push and Voilà!  So please check it out at Journey to the Garden and let us know what you think.  Your comments would be most welcome!

A Saskatchewan Sunset
© Cleo @ Classical Carousel


Sunday, 27 August 2017

The Republic ~ Book II

The Republic
Jean-Leon Gerome
source Wikiart

Book II:


Pleasure (1900)
Eugene de Blaas
source Wikiart
Glaucon protests that Socrates has not made a reasonable enough explanation of why Justice is preferable to injustice.  First, he says, there are three classes of good:

  1. Pleasures that are enjoyed for themselves
  2. Good that is valued because of its consequences
  3. Good that is desirable both for itself and what comes out of it.
Really it seems that Glaucon believes Justice would fit into the second category, a type of in-between good.  

Then he tells a story of a shepherd called Gyges and his magic ring that helped him to become king (see Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book I).  If one could act however one wanted without threat of punishment or recrimination, wouldn’t everyone act thus?  Why should Glaucon be just if he can get away with being unjust? (Essentially he is asking: What is Justice on the level of an individual?)  It’s only our fear of getting caught that holds us to the course of Justice, and Justice itself is a social construct.  The Social Contract theory implies that people don’t really want to be just but because chaos would result from such a “free-for-all” society and therefore we enter into a “social contract” where we give up free reign on our desires for a greater good; certain rules are imposed on an individual that aren't part of their nature for a common good. 

King Candaules of Lydia (1858)
Jean-Leon Gerome
source Wikiart

Socrates proceeds in a round-about manner.  Instead of directly commenting on how Justice works in an individual, he instead begins to examine how the same Justice works broadly within a state and then will apply what he discovers to the soul of man.  And thus Plato starts to establish his Republic.  The Republic begins with the need for a community ……. the need we have for each other for the basic provisions in life: food, clothing, shelter.  In the Republic, everyone has a trade or purpose, a division of labour that works best to run the city efficiently.  Right now, the city’s basic needs are met with simplicities, and no luxuries such as furniture, artists, meat, courtesans, perfume, etc. To Socrates, this city is true and healthy.  It’s important to note that in English, we use the word “soul” but the Greek word is actually “psuche” [ψυχή] (the root word for psyche) which can be used in a variety of different ways, such as: mind, self, individual, etc.  (Soul = that part of the human being which is not the body).

The Soul Breaking the Bonds ...
Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
source Wikiart
Glaucon is perplexed.  What about the luxuries?  What Socrates has described only meets basic animal needs.  Socrates allows Glaucon his desires and adds in his wishes, but emphasizes that adding meat and sweets will cause inflammation and surely the physicians will be in more demand --- he was obviously initially advocating vegetarianism for health.  Interesting ….   In any case, all these luxuries will increase competition, and therefore eventually war is inevitable.  Socrates will not say whether war is good or bad, he only examines the effect it will have on the Republic.  The city will therefore need an efficient soldier but they too must be specialists in their field. However, they must also exhibit a certain temperament, one that is combative and even aggressive, yet tempered by courage of spirit and controlled by rational behaviour.  Given their character and profession, they must be trained carefully to ensure they do not harm their own people.  How is that to be done?  Through education.  They must be trained to be hostile to their enemies and benevolent to their people, not indiscriminate with their behaviour.

Socrates now critiques the education of children.  In spite of the reverence given to the poets Hesiod and Homer, Socrates believes that the stories they have created will damaged the foundation of a good republic.  How can the gods be both good and bad?  Anything divine must be wholly good and it is impossible for it to be bad, therefore (Homer, in this case) is telling tales that are “impious, self-contradictory, and disastrous to our commonwealth.”  All such stories should be censored in a healthy city.  Also, death should never be depicted as something to be feared, so the Guardians of the city are not afraid to die in their defense of it; their defensive behaviour is part of the promoting of Justice and we do not want to impede them being just.

I had to admire Socrates in this section.  Even though he at first appears to advocate a simplistic city that he feels is the most healthy and functional, he bows to Glaucon’s wishes for luxuries, perhaps realizing that it would not be sensible to attempt to eradicate these human desires, and therefore, gives up his “perfect” city for one that is more realistic.  Plato is realizing the flaws in human nature and attempting to work within them.  Quite wise, I would say.


⇐ Book I                                                                                                       Book III ⇒




Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Historical Novels for School



The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday's theme is something "schoolish" so I've chosen to pick my top historical fiction books for children.  Generally, I'm rather choosy with my history book choices (even non-fiction), trying to avoid any books that are speculative or modernized or too coloured with the author's opinions.  With that in mind, here are my top picks, books that are well-researched and are able to transport the child back to the time of the novel and give them not only a good understanding, but a permanent connection with an event or person.  These books are all excellent!


1.


Cyrus the Persian (Review)

Cyrus the Persian follows the life of the Persian king and also gives insight into the Jewish captivity in Babylon.  It's a unique story and one that stays with you long after it's over.


2.


The Spartan

A confession ..... I haven't actually read this book yet, but many people have told me how wonderful it is.  I've read other books by Caroline Dale Snedecker and she's an excellent author; her stories are well-researched and masterfully related.  This book tells the tale of a soldier who survived the battle of Thermopylae and mentions historical figures such as Militiades, Aeschylus, Aristides, Leonidas and Pindar.


3.


The Ides of April (Review)

A murder mystery that gives the reader a taste of ancient Roman life and details of the historical characters of Thrasea Paetus, Emperor Nero and Seneca.


4.


Detectives in Togas

No historical events or characters are portrayed in this novel, I must admit, but it is funny!  It does give an interesting picture of ancient Rome, its environs and culture.


5.


The Forgotten Daughter (Review)


What a wonderful book about slavery and cruelty and perseverance and forgiveness. Snedecker's research is impeccable and she creates a character that is both complex and sympathetic.  I can't recommend this book highly enough!


6.



Johnny Tremain

A story set during the American Revolution, the reader becomes part of The Boston Tea Party, the midnight ride of Paul Revere and the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  An unforgettable story!!


7.


Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Based on the story of Nathaniel Bowditch, a sailor and mathematician who created the American Practical Navigator.  Sound boring?  Not at all!  It's a fascinating story of adventure.


8.


The Story of Eli Whitney

Get to know one of the most famous inventors of the 18th century.  His invention of the cotton gin was fraught with troubles yet he displayed a character of perseverance and generosity.  A great read!


9.



Madeleine Takes Command

Based on the true story of Madeleine Verchere, a fourteen-year-old girl who, along with two younger brothers, held off an Iroquois attack on their fort while their parents were away.  Set in French Canada in the 1690s.


10.


The Winged Watchman

Set in occupied Holland during World War II, we meet the Verhagen family who live in a windmill called The Winged Watchman.  A hidden Jewish child .... a downed pilot ...... what could be more exciting?  This book is a treasure!


Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope

"Of course there was a Great House at Allington."

Lily (Lilian), Bell (Isabella), and their mother, Mrs. Dale, live in a cottage on the estate of her brother-in-law, Squire Dale.  The squire, their benefactor, is a stern implacable man who feels a responsibility to the family, yet does not exhibit affection or understanding towards them or their plight.  In spite of the strained relations, the Dale women live a contented, happy life.  However, their cousin, Bernard, one day brings his friend, Adolphus Crosbie home to visit and an attachment grows between him and Lily.  Crosbie is a charming young man, without name or fortune, but with a charisma that captures Lily's heart, despite his flaws of selfishness and worldliness.  Does Crosbie love Lily?  He certainly convinces himself that he does and as he proposes he anticipates a respectable dowry that he assumes will be bestowed upon Lily by Squire Dale.  But assumptions can go awry and when Crosbie learns that Lily will be the benefactress of nothing but goodwill, her charms begin to diminish in his materialistic eyes.  All attempts to convince himself that love will overcome practicalities fail and he is lured away by a daughter of an earl, Alexandrina deCourcy, of whom he once was an admirer.  Weak and irresolute, Crosbie soon finds himself engaged to the girl despite his own misgivings and the threat of censure that he is certain to receive from various aspects of society.

source Wikipedia
Johnny Eames, who is initially introduced to us as a hobbledyhoy, loves Lily with a quiet, unwavering devotion, however her attachment to Crosbie appears insurmountable in spite of his abominable treatment of her. Even Eames' preferment by the honourable Lord de Guest does not seem to sway Lily's heart in his favour.  Meanwhile, her sister, Bell, refuses the proposal of her cousin, Bernard, who is influenced by their uncle, Squire Dale.  The Squire's desire for the union overrides both parties, and he nearly drives his family away, physically and emotionally.  Yet there is another suitor waiting in the wings, Dr. Crofts, and the pair display a long-standing bond that is quiet and endurable.  Love puts on many faces in this book, yet happiness can be elusive in spite of good intentions.

Lily Dale is a character that is both frustrating and pitiful.  Her devotion to a man of questionable character and weak will is truly appalling.  One can understand her love and finally her disappointment, but it is beyond conceivability that she could maintain such an unwavering allegiance to such a scoundrel.  There are few characters I could claim to fully dislike in classic fiction, but I would have to say, Lily Dale is one of them.

source Wikipedia


During the Barset Chronicles series, one gets accustomed to Trollope's palate of numerous multi-faceted characters, that populate his pages with a kaleidescope of colourful behaviours and a weaving of personal happenings.  However, with this book, I was somewhat disappointed.  The story itself was  more simplified than the other books of the Chronicles, which is not a detriment in itself, but the major focus on the love story of Lily and its many pitfalls left one with a disquieted feeling.  Because there is little commitment, deep feeling, or love on one side, and an excess of it on the other, there is an inequality of sentiment produced that colours the whole book.  Blindness is a factor in many circumstances and, in spite of Trollope's lighthearted treatment of some of the characters, there is perhaps a more damning conviction against society at large for its inability to see what is in front of its face, for its lack of motivation to change circumstances, and perhaps even for its helplessness at the hands of fate.



Other books in the series:





Sunday, 13 August 2017

Shadow of the Moon by M.M. Kaye

"Winter!  Who ever heard of such a name?"

Set during the great Indian Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, Shadow of the Moon follows the life of Winter, Condesa de Ballesteros who is the daughter of a Spanish nobleman and an English mother.  Leaving India for England an orphan at the age of six, she is raised by her great-grandfather the Earl of Ware, but a match is made for her at the tender age of eleven to a man twenty years her senior, and at seventeen she prepares to leave for India escorted by Captain Alex Randall, the subordinate of her betrothed, Conway Barton, the Commissioner of the Lunjore district.  From the beginning, Winter is attracted to Randall’s self-confident demeanour and somewhat brash independence, yet while she appreciates his care of her, she is also affronted at times by his behaviour and the two develop a mutual attraction that is complicated by circumstance and convention.  Although Winter remembers her fiancé as a rather jovial pleasant figure who offers safety and security, Randall is convinced that once she sees the debauched, womanizing lout, nothing in the world would convince her to marry him. 

Yet what becomes more of a concern is the rumblings in India of disquiet and unrest, as the British East India company's presence has long been resented.  A company originally formed for trade and at one point accounting for half of the world's trade, the British East India Company had expropriated not only the goods of the country of India, but its territories as well.  At the time of this story, there is discontentment among the Indian people due to heavy-handed British social reforms, unfair taxes, and the treatment of some of the nobility of the country.  In this case, the fuse that lit the mutiny was Indian sepoy officers being given cartridges smeared with pig and cow fat which they have to bite off, a practice that would be an anathema to both Hindus and Muslims due to their religious beliefs.  In spite of rumours murmured in secret meetings and bazaars of a mutiny so great not one Englishman will be left alive, the British commanders continue to trust their Indian armies, and stubbornly refuse to heed the signs of disaffection and suspicion.  While Randall attempts to convince his British contemporaries of the dangers, there are still parties and gaieties galore among the English ex-patriots and one wonders at their willful blindness.

The ruins of the Residency at Lucknow and the
gunfire it received
source Wikipedia
This historical aspect of this novel was fascinating.  Kaye communicated the various personages and political posturing in a highly realistic manner, from the blind stubbornness of the British commanders, to the insightful planning of Sir Henry Lawrence; from the rebel attacks in Delhi, to the flight of the British characters in their attempts to escape the carnage, the reader is treated to a highly developed and suspenseful plot that keeps him riveted to the pages.  Kaye also weaves a descriptive masterpiece of the settings of India and one can feel the heat radiating from the land, hear the chatter of the people in the bazaars, sense the tension between races and the suppressed passion between Winter and Alex Randall.  

The Sepoy revolt at Meerut
from Illustrated London News, 1857
source Wikipedia
Sadly, the romance in the novel was the most disappointing part.  Randall appeared rather self-absorbed for the greater part of the book, his job and political responsibilities often overshadowing any love or caring or attention that he could have shown Winter, and the uncomfortableness of her situation (a married woman) combined with Randall's independent and sometimes abrasive character quelled any feelings of satisfaction that might have been generated by their love story.  Winter also had a penchant for overreacting with an exaggerated response that would cause her to make unwise decisions which would either damage her position, or needlessly complicate her life. While it perhaps added to the plot, it was often annoying and not necessarily believable. Randall himself displayed a character that was not particularly warm or generous towards women; I could understand Winter's attraction to him, but I also thought their future life would be fraught with discontent and unrest, very much like the India they inhabited.

Here is an article written by M.M. Kaye on her writing of Shadow of the Moon, which I found interesting and illuminating.  In spite of a few reservations about the romance aspect, the rest of the novel was highly enjoyable and I thank Cirtnecce for her read-along.  If you want to read more about the book and the Indian Sepoy mutiny, please see her post on the Company Raj and her post on The Landscape of the Mutiny.