Two Lives

 It’s been some time since a book has engrossed me so much I carry it everywhere with me in order to greedily snatch a few minutes read between classes or in the supermarket queue.  The last book that absorbed me so completely was We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver’s disturbing tale of the relationship between a mother and her murderous son, and that was a whole year ago.  Since then I’ve come across good books, great books even, but none which have had me reading open mouthed.  Until now.

Vikram Seth is my favourite author.  Upon finishing his novel A Suitable Boy I cried for hours purely because it had ended.  Simply couldn’t believe the characters he had created were no longer going to be a part of my life.  My solution was simply to start reading the book again!  Have thoroughly enjoyed his other works (which include a travelogue and a novel in verse) and so it is a complete mystery as to why, despite having bought it six months ago, it has taken me until the last few days to start reading his most recent work.

Spanning almost a hundred years and several continents, Two Lives is the true story of Seth’s German aunt and Indian uncle.  True to form, the author manages not only to paint remarkably vivid impressions of the central characters but also of the times they lived in.  I’m only, perhaps, a quarter of the way through the book but it’s already lodged itself into my all-time favourite list.  Would tell you more but I want to keep on reading!  Instead, in its honour, I give you a recipe for Indian spiced prawns.  It’s a Wendy-creation rather than an authentically Asian dish but it tastes damn good.

  Indian Spiced King Prawns

(Serves 4 as a starter)

16 peeled and deveined prawns

1/4 tsp cayenne

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

4 tblspn olive oil 

Lemon wedges and fresh coriander leaves to serve

  • Create a marinade using the spices and olive oil.
  • Add the prawns and coat well.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes.

  • Cook on a medium-hot griddle pan for 2-3 minutes on each side.

  • Serve with lemon wedges and coriander.

Excuse my silence over the next four days.  Off to Aberdeenshire to see family, friends, my darling Rosie and a host of other canines.  Watch this space for dog photos! 🙂

17 thoughts on “Two Lives

  1. You have my attention on the books! I will definately look this gentleman up as I do need a new read.
    I have just purchased prawns at the fish market this afternoon! I will be making mine a “wee” bit different as it is Mike’s birthday today and he likes his shrimp on the BBQ in their shells. I will tell you more tomorrow about my shrimp (prawns)! Therefore, I will save your recipe for my next batch, which will probably be within the next week! We love shrimp!
    Your photo is very handsome!

  2. Ooooh! I must add this book to my list! I’ve not heard of this author! I have a load of fiction books about life in India.

    My favorite author is Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Beautiful stories of women and the lives they live in India, America, England.

    And the shrimp looks great too!

  3. What a treat: great book suggestion and an appealing recipe.
    I’m also eager for dog photos. My border collies are beautiful but very tricky to photograph as they do not star at posing patiently.

  4. I’m definitely interersted! hooked, in fact! 🙂
    I used to be a huuuuge book addict! In fact I still am, as I discovered recently. It seems that I just didn’t find the right book for a long time. 🙂 the book that brought me back to my old ways is ‘when we were orphans’ by kazuo ishiguro. I do have some issues with it, but it’s a beutiful book nevertheless! have you read it?

  5. I’m always looking for new authors, thanks heaps! I have “We Need to Talk About Keven” but haven’t read it yet… And I’m about ready to spen a happy bit of time on Amazon… You know, getting dark earlier, weather changing, more books are needed (don’t tell mon mari)

  6. Deb – Thanks for the compliment on the photo. I really like the light in this one. 🙂 Don’t freak out at the size of the Seth novel – it competes with “War and Peace” on the length front!

    Deana – I read a book of short stories by Divakaruni a few years ago and loved it. She reminded me of an Indian Alice Munro. May go look it out again… 🙂

    Anh – Would love to know what you think if you do read them. 🙂

    Truffle – You’re partner has great taste. 😉 Canine photos on their way…

    Casey – Collies are hillarious! Where do they get that energy from???

    Rkhooks – Thank you & I hope your keyboard recovered!

    Maninas – I totally loose the taster for reading sometimes. It can last for up to a year then I discover it all over again and its wonderful! Love Ishiguro though found his latest one (“Never Let Me Go”) a bit too odd.

    Katiez – Prepare yourself for the Shriver book. It’s a harrowing read but entirely worth it. It’s 8.30pm and dark and rainy here at the moment. Winter is definitely on its way!

  7. Hi Wendy, I think that I would enjoy Two Lives, so it’ll be on my wish list of books to purchase (and I don’t only buy cookbooks, actually, these days I haven’t been having the urge to buy cookbooks).

    Your creation sounds and looks yummy. Have a nice trip!

  8. Loved Seth’s An Equal Music, a haunting story of a violinist. Also have A Suitable Boy (which I purchased for my retirement!). You have inspired me to try it again.

    Love a book you can “live” in. Have you read the Isabel Dalhousie novels by Alexandra McCall Smith? These are lighter but still absorbing. Great excitement to discover last week, the latest book in the series to arrive at the local bookstore where I work. “Be careful of compliments” Delicious meal ideas pop up every so often also! A charming series.

    Enjoy your break.

  9. I’m not familiar with the book, but I do know my dinners are influenced by books I’m reading and films I’ve just watched. Isn’t it wonderful when a book is so engrossing that you lose track of time? Life’s simple pleasures….

  10. Oops incorrect title – sorry! Book (just purchased) is “The Careful use of Compliments”. All previous books in this series can influence our dinners. Set in Edinburgh. Can’t wait for a wee bit of piece and quiet to open the cover and read, read, read….:^)

  11. Nora – Oddly, i haven’t been buying many cookbooks recently either. I’ve either reached saturation point or am getting so many ideas from blogs more books aren’t necessary. 🙂

    Christina – Thank you!

    Cynthia – Enjoy!

    Helen – Loved “An Equal Music” too. I’ve read all the “Ladies Detective Agency” books by MacCall Smith but not the ones you mentioned. Will definitely check them out.

    Susan – It’s one of my favourite things ever. 🙂

  12. Wendy,
    Your shrimp dish looks fantastic! Yum 🙂
    About the “time” piece about food and families. I’m glad you found it as interesting as I did. Have a safe and fun visit and will look forward to pics when you return.

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