Thursday, February 03, 2011

Haunting Jasmine by Anjali Banerjee

Haunting Jasmine
by Anjali Banerjee
Copyright 2011
Berkley Books - Fiction with a touch of paranormal
296 pages, incl. Reader's Guide

" . . . Books are more than commodities to sell. Books hold our culture, our past, other worlds, the antidote for sadness."

--p. 73 of Haunting Jasmine

For some people, reading means the difference between happiness and grief, hope and despair, life and death.

--p. 262

Jasmine Mistry is freshly divorced and still reeling. When her Auntie Ruma calls her home to Shelter Island -- a small island off the Washington coast-- to run her bookstore while she goes on an emergency trip, Jasmine does it as a favor for an aunt she loves.

She arrives from L.A. hesitant and heartbroken but ready to work hard. Housed in a Queen Anne Victorian home, filled with books new and old, and coated with dust, the bookstore is charming but Jasmine can't see the charm in it; she hasn't even read a book in years.

Jasmine is a terrible mess. Pragmatic to a fault, she begins making suggestions for improving the store practically the moment she walks in the door. Auntie Ruma warns Jasmine that she must stay in the store or it will become cranky. Naturally, Jasmine laughs that off. A cranky store? What Jasmine doesn't realize is that the store is haunted by the ghosts of authors past. And, they're trying to tell her something. Will Jasmine learn to listen to the ghosts and soften to the attention of a handsome and magnetic stranger? Can a rickety old store full of ghosts help Jasmine find a way to mend her broken heart? Or will she keep driving perfectly good customers away?

Haunting Jasmine was a serendipitous read -- perfect for the moment. I was tired and in search of a light-hearted story and it fit the bill; Haunting Jasmine is really quite a lovely story, a total delight. While Jasmine starts out bitter and is every book shopper's nightmare with her lack of knowledge of and respect for books, she does gradually begin to listen to the spirits in the store and reevaluate her attitude. The ghosts can be a little too real (as in "close to corporeal" -- able to touch her with a warm hand, for example); they test the boundaries of fiction and you really do have to let go of preconceived notions about the spiritual realm. But I was so captivated by the story that in this case I simply set such thoughts aside and just let the author carry me away.

I should add that by "light" I don't mean the book was a total piece of fluff. Take this passage for example:

Kipling's image formed the way dreams form, a mere simulacrum of what is real. The island itself, blustery and rocky, wet and inhospitable and unyielding, is what's real.

--pp. 104-105

Oops, vocabulary word!

simulacrum -

[sim-yuh-ley-kruhm]
–noun, plural -cra [-kruh]
1. A slight, unreal or superficial likeness or semblance.
2. An effigy, image or representation: a simulacrum of Aphrodite.
The bottom line:

The pages flew. Haunting Jasmine is lively, bookish fun and highly recommended for light reading; it would be a terrific book for traveling (or, for whenever you want a break between all those heavy classics you snowbound folks are no doubt reading). Readers will want to kick Jasmine in the shins, at first, but will stay for the joy of reading about an enchanted store. Fortunately, the heroine isn't completely hopeless; once she begins to get into the swing of things, you can't help but love the changes in her. The characterization is well done and there's plenty of humor. There are some pretty predictable little twists but I don't think the author intended to make anything too deeply secret, so that didn't bother me too much. I'll be looking for more books by Anjali Banerjee.

My thanks to Berkley Books for the review copy.

A side note:

Auntie Ruma is a Hindu who believes her life's path has been the work of a Hindu god, the elephant god, so there's a good bit of talk about her Hindu beliefs and some really fun shopping for things like saris. I had fun looking up bridal saris and imagining how the characters would dress for a wedding (Jasmine's parents live on the island and her engaged sister comes for a visit, now and then).

In other news:

We're allegedly at the beginning of an ice storm. Things look a little wet and shiny, but I don't see anything coming down. However, we're supposed to get up to 1/2" of ice and that means crashing trees and power outages, if the predicted weather does materialize. Because I haven't yet loaded this week's kitty pics, that means Fiona Friday might end up on a Saturday or Sunday. We'll see. I suppose you'll survive an extra day or two. Right?


©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

17 comments:

  1. I just found out about this book today!! I'm so excited about it. It sounds great. I LOVE Anjali Banerjee. She's so sweet and her books are amazing :) You totally need to read Looking for Bapu! I love that book so much.

    We're not going to get any ice or anything :( Just stupid old rain...I want some winter weather T_T

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  2. AND why no comments? no power, means no approval, right? HOPE you are well and safe and thank go that plumbing doesn't require electricity (always my first thought when we lose power; second is all the food in the fridge...)
    Happy Weekend and may it warm up soon for everyone.

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  3. This book sounds really good to me!

    I hope the ice storm misses you! We got a little sleet last night, but it quickly changed to rain.

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  4. I really like the sound of this book! Adding it to my wish list.

    Oh, and the book you sent arrived! Thanks so much; I'll be getting to it soon.

    We are iced in. Still snowing, roads are completely iced, then snow-covered. My husband is stuck in Texas and unable to get home until this clears up.

    Stay warm!

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  5. Chris,

    Well, you don't want ice, I promise. There were accidents everywhere, in the Jackson area, last night. The whole stack was shut down!! We're getting a mix, at this point. It's rain, but cold enough that the trees are getting an ice coating and there is colder air behind the rain. So . . . we'll see. We're not out of the woods, yet, but I was happy to wake to rain instead of ice.

    You've met Anjali Banerjee? Cool! I'll look for Waiting for Bapu, although I'm currently on a book-buying ban. Maybe when the library's open (the whole town is shut down in anticipation of ice). Haunting Jasmine is a breath of fresh air. I'm definitely going to read more of her books.

    Care,

    Yes, if the trees start crashing we lose power, period. We've got LOTS of very tall trees and ice brings them down. Also, we're all-electric, which sucks. If we lose power, we lose everything. Hubby doesn't want to buy a generator and our fireplace is covered by a tarp because it leaks, so it will get very uncomfortable if it freezes. So far, so good, but we could still get ice. There's a light coating on the trees, even though it's been raining.

    We have lost plumbing, in the past, but just once. And, the food . . . the good news about ice storms is that it's cold enough you can just empty your freezer into coolers and stick them in the garage. You can't do that in a hurricane, of course, so ice storms are better than hurricane power outages, when it comes to food! We just get very, very, very uncomfortable. Our house is poorly insulated and can get down to the 50's pretty quickly in an outage.

    Kathy,

    It really is a breezy, upper of a book. I loved it and I'm really anxious to find more books by this author. She's new to me and I'm excited to see that she's written quite a few books.

    I awoke to rain but we were in a warm patch -- I looked at the weather. There's cold air behind it and we have a light coating of ice on the trees. More rain would be great!! We don't have a generator or a working fireplace, so I'd rather avoid an ice storm. I'm glad you got rain, too!

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  6. Jenclair,

    Haunting Jasmine is really fun. I can't see how a book lover could dislike it. :)

    Yay, thanks for letting me know! I hope you enjoy it!

    I can't tell what it's doing outside, now. It's gotten quieter -- that could be good or bad. Same here, though. Hubby is kind of stuck because Jackson is solidly iced in. He's in Michigan, where there's plenty of snow but the roads are nice and clear. He'll probably stay an extra night there, just to wait for the ice in the metro area to melt. It's too hazardous for him to drive home from Jackson, at this point. Bummer. Should have gone to Michigan with him.

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  7. I just got a copy of this book and love the sparkles on the cover! LOL

    I'm going to pick it up soon (maybe it will end my reading slump) and try it.

    As to weather, we've got snow on the ground in Austin. I'm sure stuff is headed your way, Nancy! :-)

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  8. Kay,

    I completely forgot to mention the sparkles! I love sparkly things and it was really the sparkly pink that grabbed me . . . and then the story held on. LOL Definitely give it a try. I'll bet it'll make a good slump-breaker. It's nice and light.

    We're not supposed to get snow, unfortunately -- just rain, freezing rain, maybe some sleet. Only yucky stuff. Everything's been warming up before it gets to us, this year. Bummer. Enjoy your snow!

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  9. OH no about the accidents!!! I could go for some snow :p I'll pass on the ice :p I haven't met Ms. Banerjee, but we've conversed over emails after I reviewed Looking for Bapu and she's super sweet and incredible!!

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  10. I'm glad she learns about how wonderful books are otherwise I don't know that I'd like this girl :)

    Sounds like a fun book. Any book set in a bookstore already has that going for it right?

    Stay warm over there!

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  11. Chris,

    Me, too. Snow is always welcome. Rain is okay -- people don't slow down, but it's better than ice. Boring, though. Kiddo had me out in the kitchen making mozzarella, this afternoon. He's so funny! He cooks when he's bored. Hubby's decided he's going to take Kiddo along when he goes for Viking cooking classes. I think that's a super idea.

    Ah, I see. Well, of course she's nice. Anjali Banerjee is a cat lover! Cat-loving bibliophile author? Can't beat that with a stick. LOL

    Iliana,

    I know! Jasmine is really a nightmare, at first, but I always hope those horrid characters will have some epiphany and change. In this case, it does happen and the bookstore is just so darned fun that it's a pleasure waiting for her to get to that point.

    Thanks, you too! I heard Austin got snow! So envious! We just ended up with boring old rain. It's better than ice, though. Good day to stay inside.

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  12. I need an aunt who wants me to run her bookstore. :-D

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  13. Softdrink,

    Me, too.

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  14. This sounds good! I have added it to the list!

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  15. Kailana,

    It's really fun. I hope you do read it!

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  16. The cover alone is gorgeous, but your review sounds good. I need to add it to my list.

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  17. Holly,

    The cover is even better in real life. It sparkles! :) Fair warning -- there is a little sex. It's not graphic, though.

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