Majestic Federer sweeps into Wimbledon Semis

I came back from college and switched on the television with feverish excitement- it was the Wimbledon semi-final between Federer and Djokovic! They had never met on grass before, and though all the odds were against Federer, I knew this match would be a fantastic one. Djokovic had beaten Federer in four of the previous five major semi-finals.But it took the Swiss ace just 2 hrs 90 mins to defeat the defending champion.

Federer began well, breaking Djokovic early in the first set.  With superb aces and stunning winners, he won the first set 6-3 in just 24 mins. The second set went the Serb’s way, who raced to a 3-0 lead, and quickly closed out the set 6-3.

Federer missed a break point in the second game of the third set, and both players continued to hold serve. But the sixth game saw some magnificent rallies between the two players- the rally of 26 strokes being won by Federer’s brilliant backhand winner down the line. Djokovic doggedly held serve, but looked more and more hassled as the set went on, and missed an opportunity to break serve in the ninth game. Federer was leading 5-4, and hit a glorious forehand down the line to lead 0-30 on Djokovic’s serve; the latter missed an easy overhead smash to give Federer two set points. Federer broke Djokovic to win the third set 6-4 in 40 mins.

By now, Djokovic was flustered and looked to be anything but at his best. The tide was in the Swiss’s favor, and he started the fourth set with confidence, breaking Djokovic in the second game. Leading 3-0, the score quickly became 5-2. Federer was at his sublime peak, and closed out the match 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3 to march into the Wimbledon finals for the eighth time, creating yet another record. Djokovic looked to be drained of energy, and admitted that he made a lot of mistakes in the fourth set.

It will be Federer’s 24th Grand Slam final, and he could replace Novak Djokovic as world number one if he wins the final on Sunday. I’m sure his fans felt exactly what he said: “I’m so ecstatic, so happy. I was able to play some fantastic tennis today. The third set was key to the match and I was able to  step it up. Great match!”

So happy to see Fedex in the finals once more, and looking forward to his match against Andy Murray on Sunday!

Powder and Patch: A Review

Title: Powder and Patch

Author: Georgette Heyer

Publisher: Arrow Books

Price: Rs. 260(Blossom Book Store, Bangalore)

After I finished reading around 20 Georgette Heyer books, I was glancing through the list of her works, wondering which book to read next. As always, I read the reviews of the book to know the outlines of the plots and characters before buying it. I read one on Powder and Patch; it didn’t seem convincing, and was also misleading, as I found out later. The review claimed that it was a book of short stories, which it isn’t. I decided to buy the book anyway, and on reading it was instantly sure that it would rank among my favourite Heyer books.

Powder and Patch is a short story, with a simple plot and setting. The book opens on a peaceful countryside in Sussex. The first two chapters are devoted to the description of the main characters in the book. The real fun however, starts in Chapter Five…

Philip Jettan is a simple, straightforward country man, with a disdain for all the frills and fancies adopted by the town people. To the despair of his father and neighbour, Cleone, he doesn’t wear wigs, doesn’t paint his face, cares nothing about his dress or hair, is a poor swordsman, and worst of all, is blunt and crude, and never whispers elegant compliments into ladies’ ears. Philip, hurt by the criticisms of his father and Cleone(whom he loves), goes to his uncle to learn to be a ‘gentleman’. His uncle takes him to Paris, and there the transformation takes place. Philip becomes famous and sought after by men and women alike; he is  handsome, wears beautiful clothes, fights duels and is supposedly involved in many intrigues. Cleone, after hearing his escapades, is furious. She goes to London, and Philip soon follows. The ensuing sallies and character impersonations lends itself to a fast and irrepressibly funny drama!

Has Philip really changed into one of those foppish, languid and elegant gentleman of the town? Does he care for Cleone anymore? To know the hilarious twists and the ending, I would suggest read this book; it will keep you chuckling and entertained throughout, with never a dull moment. Heyer is at the peak of her writing in this book, with funny dialogues, simple plots, and lovable characters.

One warning: Heyer uses a lot of French words and phrases; its better that you have a little knowledge of the language before you read the book!

Pistols for Two: A Review

Title: Pistols for Two

Author: Georgette Heyer

Publisher: Arrow Books

Price: Rs. 260 (Blossom Book Store, Bangalore)

This, in contrast to the other Heyer books, is a book of short stories. It consists of 11 chapters, and all of them have similar themes- romance, adventure and witty humour. What makes these stories so enchanting is the delightful characters, and the simple story line. Although each story ends with the inevitable romance, there isn’t any prolonged courtship, with its intrigues and misunderstandings; rather the hero and heroine find themselves in unexpected and humorous situations, and love and affection are woven in as naturally as fabric into a tapestry.

One of my favourite stories is – A Clandestine Affair, it reminds me of L.M.Montgomery’s After Many Days, stories where lovers are estranged for many years and then come back together, more mature and confident in their mutual love. I think the way Lord Iver and Miss Tresilian get together at the end is perfectly sweet, and you finish the story with a deep sigh of satisfaction.

Pink Domino, the fourth story, is the first one I read, and I absolutely loved it! Simple and elegant characters, Giles Wrexham, is a hero who will take your breath away, while Ruth Welborne is a sweet and unsophisticated girl. One thing to be noticed is that all the females in these stories are unconcerned about the wealth and status of the “Pinks of the Ton”. They are independent, assertive and marked by wit and intelligence. None of those gushing, frail and sensitive girls in this novel!

To Have the Honour is a vastly entertaining story, which will make you giggle endlessly. The Duel, another of my favourite ones, is a charming story. And the twist at the end will make you gasp and smile at the same time. Snowdrift and Full Moon are entrancing stories, filled with lots of humour and unforgettable characters- a miserly grandfather, a Joseph with eyes-like-a pig, a Lord Stavely who loves spouting poetry in the moonlight…

If there were any stories which didn’t quite work for me, it would be A Night At the Inn, maybe because it is full of intrigue and no romance, and the first part of Hazard, where a girl is set as a stake during gambling. The second part is very amusing though, and the story has to be read only for this part.

Other stories are equally alluring. I read this book only after finishing a series of other Heyer books, almost all of her well-known books, but found this a refreshing change from the usual ones.

For any ardent Heyer fan, I would say, buy this book because it is definitely worth it!

I am currently studying English Literature as a subject in college. We had to study Jane Austen’s spectacular romance Pride and Prejudice for the second semester. Now this has been and will always be one of my favourite books of all time. So you can imagine my excitement! I had read it a million times, had watched the movies(both 1995 and the later) enough number of times to learn the dialogues by heart. I looked forward to studying it with other Austen fans, engaging in lively debates, and daydreaming about Darcy(Colin Firth) with my friends! What I didn’t anticipate was that studying a novel in a literature class is quite different from reading it for pleasure…

I’m sure that my knowledge and views of the novel should have improved by engaging in a detailed study, but perhaps the teaching and classroom atmosphere just didn’t seem to work. I found myself thinking of things I never thought of before in a very serious vein (probably good in a way) – like the economic status of women and men, the moral and social values of society, the historic backgrounds to the novel, and the hidden traits of all the characters. While I was aware of most of these things, it had never been struck forcibly at my face! I had to forget the witty and satirical lines by Mr.Bennet to his wife (“For you are as handsome as any of them, Mr.  Bingley might like you the best of the party”),  and instead reflect on how these made him as a person. And the classic proposal scene was spoilt by becoming acutely aware of Darcy’s faults and of Elizabeth’s lack of insight and reason.  But there was more to come- how Darcy was “as large as Pemberley” and the house reflected his pride and arrogance. This last point was particularly difficult to digest, as I vividly remember the Pemberly house in the 1995 movie(as I’m sure all the Austen fans do)- the beautiful mansion standing majestically in the sunlight, in front of a crystal-clear, rippling lake and surrounded by luxuriant woods and groves. Another important view was that of feminism, with cross references to Mary Wollstonecraft(advocate of the feminist movement in the 18th century); a comparison of Austen and Wollstonecraft. Since we had earlier studied A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Wollstonecraft, it made it easier to analyse the feminist situation in the 18th century. I felt that this was an important part of studying the novel, as it subtly refers to a topic readers for pleasure may not delve deep into.

At the end of the day, studying Pride and Prejudice was a good experience, as it added many facets to the novel. But I’m glad that its over, and I can get back to treating it like a well-loved novel.

Studying Pride and Prejudice

Names of Characters in Heyer’s books

My very first Georgette Heyer book was ‘April Lady’. The first thing that struck me was the absurd name “Cardross” who was the male lead character of the book. But as I was very impressed by the Arrow Publication illustration on the front cover of the book I bought it. Ever since then I’ve never stopped wondering as to why Heyer gave such horrible names to such wonderful characters in her books. So here is a list of names from worst to best. I’m making two separate lists for male and female characters.

MALE CHARACTERS

First name                                                  Last name

  1. Waldo                                              1. Hawkridge
  2. Vernon                                             2. Cardross
  3. Ivo                                                    3.Wyndham
  4. Hector                                              4.Kirkby
  5. Marcus                                             5.Beaumaris
  6. Miles                                                6.Carstares
  7. Hugo                                                7. Calverleigh
  8. Giles                                                8. Ravenscar
  9. Max                                                 9. Sherringham
  10. Evelyn                                             10. Rotherham
  11. Sylvester                                          11.Fanshawe
  12. Nicholas                                           12. Denville
  13. Oliver                                                13. Darracott
  14. Frederick                                          14. Deveril
  15. Robert                                              15. Beauvallet
  16. Anthony                                            16. Fancot
  17. Jack                                                 17. Tremaine
  18. Richard                                             18. Alverstoke
  19. Adam                                                19. Rule
  20. Charles, Robin, Christopher, JULIAN    20. Standon
  21.                                                         21. Salford
  22.                                                         22. Carleton
  23.                                                         23. Damarel
  24.                                                         24. Rivenhall
  25.                                                         25. WORTH

Female Characters

  1. Hero
  2. Horatia
  3. Cressida
  4. Deborah
  5. Abigail
  6. Letitia
  7. Dominica
  8. Annis
  9. Serena
  10. Prudence
  11. Frederica
  12. Anthea
  13. Judith
  14. Catherine
  15. Penelope
  16. Helen
  17. Ancilla
  18. Jenny
  19. Fanny
  20. Phoebe, Sophy
  21. Arabella
  22. Venetia
  23. Diana