Monthly Archives: February 2007

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

lesmis.jpgBallantine Books, 400 pages.

Les Miserbles, for all its acclaimed glory as the battlecry novel of the 1870 French Revolution, will above all be remembered by me as a book that best portrays a father’s love and man’s innate goodness.

They are not much at the moment–but in all my readings, I have never encountered a character I admired so much as Jean Valjean. Here is the journey of a simple man who is corrupted and toughened by hard times–in and out of the galleys a dozen or so times. Yet we see that goodness prevails over all, as his marvelous integrity and love shines towards the end. (I admired his principled person so much that tears flowed unknowingly when Javert captures him the first time)

I do not see much of a love story between Cosette and Marius, but they are indeed needed in order to complete Jean Valjean’s character change, growth, and end.

A novel like this does not deserve a synopsis which may break the beautiful essence of it but allow me to say that Les Miserables should be read by any individual who remains hopeful towards mankind and society.


For the Love of my Son by Margaret Davis

forthe.JPGHodder & Stoughton Ltd . 272 pages

I still have a lot of pending books to be read but the moment I picked this one from the bookshelf, I knew I had to get it.

You just HAVE to read this book. Margaret Davis narrates very painfully how her son, Steve Davis–a UK-born IT businessman based in Manila, married a Filipina prostitute, and four years later, was brutally murdered in his own bed.

Some factual details (like exchange rate, airport descriptions, etc) can be erroneous but they seem trivial compared to the issue at hand. Not only is it about cold blooded homicide and betrayal. Its also about the failure of the Philippine justice system, and the British Government as well.

A shocking, dissappointing and heart-breaking read. Read on:


Steven Davis in 2001
Steven Davis – fishing in 2001

For the love of my son

Margaret Davis’ son was murdered in the Philippines in 2003. She has written a book about her experience.

Margaret Davis, from Bingham, found out that her son had been killed when she received a phone call from her son’s business partner Martin.“He just said to me that Steven had had an accident. I asked him ‘how bad’ and he said he’s dead. And then the line went dead.

For the Love of My Son (book cover)
For the Love of My Son

“It was a couple of hours later that he actually phoned me back.”

When Martin called Margaret back and filled her in on the details – that Steven had been shot – she jumped into action and got on to a plane to the Philippines.

“I heard about his death on the Thursday and then by the Friday I was on a plane.”

For the first week Margaret spent time with Steven’s wife, Evelyn, and their two children but it wasn’t long before she started to get a bit suspicious.

“Steven’s wife was a little aloof with me and more interested in what I knew about what was happening, asking me about Steven’s business partner (and what he’d seen in relation to the shooting)… I just felt the reaction was a little strange.

Margaret and her family
Margaret and her family

“I knew this girl like a daughter. She knew me extremely well but she wasn’t treating me as if she knew me well.

“I had to give her the benefit of the doubt – we all react to grief in different ways.”

Things weren’t happening for several weeks. Then the police came up with some suspects for the murder having put surveillance on Steven’s house. One was Evelyn’s brother-in-law and one was her boyfriend.

Margaret went from a mourning mother to being, as Margaret describes herself ‘Jane Tennison from Prime Suspect’, fighting for justice for her son.

By writing a book about her experiences, For The Love Of My Son (now published by Hodder), Margaret has managed to put the story to rest.

French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

french.jpg Vintage Books, 272 pages.

So what made me pick up this book? Im apparently not the world’s healthiest nut and I wanted to give healthy living a try. I knew from the start that this wasn’t a diet book/fad (I never ever tried reading those) so I had a good feeling it was worth my time.

The facts relayed in this book aren’t exactly supremely enlightening. We’ve heard all of them sometime in our lives—from our mothers. Common sense stuff…Eat more vegetables and fruits, drink plenty of water, eat more home cooked meals. It claims though, that most French women never really exercise. Guiliano aptly describes treadmills, elliptical trainers, stairmasters, and all other gym equipments as mercenary machines. (YESSS!!!).

She explains that most Americans go to the gym as a “sacrifice” for eating too much. So it’s better to eat a log of smaller portioned meals a day that eating 1-2 times a day with a heavier serving.

This book hopes to give the reader a healthier lifestyle by incorporating “high-end” dining—savouring in every morsel you take. Not exactly very practical for the average working woman—when sandwiches and salads are an easier reach than oysters and mushrooms.

Except for the annoying French phrases every now and then (too much French revolution in a health book), this is a good read with nice recipes to follow throughout the year.


The author, Mireille Guiliano