The idea of this blog is to facilitate the love of reading by collecting news about new books, or sometimes good old books. It is also dedicated to stamping out the scourge of e-books, Kindles, Kobo's, i-Pads, and all other such abominations.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Philosophy Made Simple by Robert Hellinga

There are two books entitled Philosophy Made Simple. This book is a novel by Robert Hellinga, who in the mid-90's, wrote The Sixteen Pleasures. In The Sixteen Pleasures, he writes of Margo Harrington who leaves for Italy after the death of her mother. In Florence she participates with many other to rescue works of art and books that have been ruined by floods. When her money runs out a friend suggests she move into a convent. Among the books in need of repair, she finds a priceless volume of 16 erotic drawings that accompany 16 sonnets by Pietro Arentino. She restores the volume and arranges for it to be auctioned for a great deal of money. The convent which has faced closure now has the money to continue to operate. Hellinga brings alive the world of book and art restoration.

Hellinga's new book, Philosophy Made Simple, takes up the story of the Harringtons focusing on Margo's father. Rudy, now 60, is still grieving the loss of his wife, a real presence in this book. He finds himself bogged down by memories. His daughters are leading busy lives. Rudy decides to leave his job at Becker's Wholesale where he has been in charge of buying avocados and find an avocado grove in Texas where he can grow them. He takes with him the book Philosophy Made Simple written by Siva Singh. As he reads each of the philosophers from Plato to Schopenhaur, he meditates on the meaning of his own life.

Rudy's life is full, learning how to grow avocados, dealing with his health problems and making arrangements for his daughter Molly's wedding to TJ, a wedding which has its own complications--the ceremony is to be Hindu.

Rudy's new friends include Menardo, who besides managing the avocado grove introduces Rudy to "cultural Fridays" at an elegant bordello across the border.
Then there is his next door neighbour, the Russian who looks after Norma Jean, an elephant who paints. Nandini, mother of the groom, who owns a tea farm in India also becomes a wonderful friend. The star of this novel is Norma Jean a loveable, smart elephant.

All in all it's a wonderful novel, full of humour and wisdom.

Sixteen Pleasures is available in paperback

Philosophy Made Simple by Robert Hellinga is still in hardcover.


Anonymous Straight Georgia said...

I'm a sucker for elephants so I suppose I'm going to have to read this.

8:19 AM  

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