Frater, travel writer for the London Observer, follows India's summer monsoon to the wettest place on Earth in this eccentric, sporadically entertaining exercise in meteorological nostalgia. The son of a Scottish doctor in the South-West Pacific Islands, Frater was brought up with a healthy respect for both the transformations and catastrophes rain could bring. In 1987, shortly after his mother had died and he himself had contracted a numbing nervous disorder, he got the idea to travel to India and experience the legendary summer monsoon, in the vague hope that its reputed rejuvenating powers would lift his own spirits as well. Arriving at the southern tip of the continent to find weather forecasters frantically calculating the moment of the rains' arrival, Frater learned that the tardiness or outright absence of a monsoon-more likely now due to India's shrinking forestland and increased pollution-can potentially topple governments, inspire revolutions, and substantially raise the level of violent crime as citizens broil in the summer heat. This year, luckily, the rains arrived on schedule. Frater joined throngs of monsoon pilgrims on the coastline, greeting the black wall of precipitation with almost religious fervor, then waded north in its fitful wake through Cochin, Goa, Bombay, and Calcutta before ending up on the border of Bangladesh in Cherrapunji, ``the wettest place on Earth,'' where the monsoon made its dramatic last stand. The 1987 monsoon proved disappointing, leaving vast areas of India drought-stricken, and Frater, ironically, as perhaps the only person on the subcontinent to have fully enjoyed its moist marvels. An unusual adventure, and a fascinating look at modern India.

Pub Date: April 2, 1991

ISBN: 0-394-58310-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1991

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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