Date? Monday, December 1, 2014
Location? Boulder, Colorado—Sun shining through gray clouds; the mountains, fog-hidden
Reading? Betsy Woodman, Emeralds Included: A Jana Bibi Adventure.
This is Book Three of Betsy’s witty trilogy about a gentle, smart, independent Scottish woman’s adventures in the small Himalayan town of Hamara Nagar in India in the early 1960s.
That made-up town’s name is a joke: it means Our Town in Hindi. Like the Pulitzer Prize-winning play (which I know Betsy knows because we were in English class together in high school in India), the books weave through the everyday lives of Jana and her adopted town’s shopkeepers, philosophers, delivery people, taxi drivers, housekeepers, police, students, children, and eccentrics. We get to love and be amused by every one of them. And of course, there’s Mr. Ganguly, the emerald-green parrot who’s wise counsel, and occasional embarrassment, to Jana. Betsy’s characters are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Other—all co-existing (imagine that!) and generally cooperating in their beautiful hill-station community. In this novel, there’s not high drama, tension, or action, but there is plenty to cherish in every paragraph and “every minute,” as Thornton Wilder’s Emily finally learned.
The first two books in the series are Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes and Love Potion Number 10. Don’t you love the play in the titles? I savored reading all three, a few pages at a time, at night, in bed. They’re each like taking a leisurely walk through the streets of an exotic bazaar with one’s oldest BFF, contentedly sharing color, fragrance and stench, radio music, conversation, and feelings. I wished each book were longer.
Check out BetsyWoodman.com.