What reviewers say about Leela’s stories
In this anthology, readers embark on a journey through various narratives, each presenting a fresh perspective on the human experience. From the heart-wrenching challenges faced by widows to the historical encounters of a young German boy in post-war Hertfordshire, the stories traverse time, geography, and cultural landscapes. What sets "Fresh Beginnings" apart is its ability to strike a delicate balance between light-hearted humor and profound themes, reminiscent of Leela Dutt's unique storytelling style.
Dutt masterfully intertwines the tales, creating a narrative flow that keeps the reader engaged… The diversity of settings and characters, including time travelers, Japanese car manufacturers, and Quakers, showcases Dutt's literary versatility.
One of the highlights of "Fresh Beginnings" is the meticulous attention to detail in both storytelling and illustration. Kate Attfield's artistry seamlessly enhances the narratives, offering readers a visual feast that complements the richness of the written word. The collaborative effort between author and illustrator adds an extra layer of depth to the reading experience…Leela Dutt's storytelling prowess, coupled with Kate Attfield's evocative illustrations, makes this collection a standout literary gem. If you seek a collection that seamlessly blends humor, poignancy, and cultural richness, "Fresh Beginnings" is an absolute must-read—a literary journey that deserves the highest accolades. A review of FRESH BEGINNINGS by Gladis Ratish Kumar - my favourite so far of the Online Bookclub reviews because she describes some of my best stories: "Fresh Beginnings" by Leela Dutt is an enthralling compilation of eleven short stories, each boasting its own distinctive narrative. This book caters to a diverse range of readers.
The journey commences with the sombre setting of Jennifer bidding farewell to her father and concludes with the joyous celebration of Charlotte's ninetieth birthday. Each story weaves its own unique tapestry. Jennifer's poignant loss of her father, who also served as her closest confidant, and her encounters with her domineering mother provide the backdrop for a captivating exploration of familial dynamics. From forays into time travel, daring escapades, and epistolary narratives, this book is a singular masterpiece. I found myself enthralled by every story.
One story that particularly resonated with me was "Blizzard," which tenderly portrays the plight of an abandoned elderly mother. The emotions of the mother and the selfishness of her son are depicted with great skill, and the mother's ultimate decision is profoundly moving. I could almost feel the chill of the snow as I delved into the narrative. "Damage" provided a delightful interlude as a family embarks on a journey in a rented green Citroen, leaving me in fits of laughter. "The Match" was a heartwarming tale in which a young German boy's arrival in Hertfordshire, just after the war, elicits mixed reactions from the locals.
Each story introduces a cast of unique and finely drawn characters, with the author expertly etching their personas. Some tales are short and imbued with humor, while others tug at the heartstrings with their poignant narratives. Many of the emotions expressed by the characters are relatable on a personal level, making the stories all the more profound. Some narratives demanded a moment's reflection to fully grasp their depth. For anyone who loves books, this is an essential read. REVIEW BY PATEL KHUSHI MANISHBHAI Fresh Beginnings, a poignant collection of short stories by Leela Dutt, invites readers to embark on a captivating journey across diverse cultures and the depths of human experience. Through a captivating blend of vivid storytelling and insightful observations, Dutt unveils a tapestry of grief, hope, and the resilient spirit of humanity. Each narrative in the book unfolds in a unique setting, from the bustling energy of London streets to the serene tranquilly of the Welsh countryside. Dutt's masterful storytelling transports readers into the heart of each story, immersing them in the lives of richly drawn characters.
Fresh Beginnings stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of humanity, offering a heartwarming and inspiring collection of stories that will linger in readers' minds long after the final page. It is a poignant reminder of the human capacity to overcome adversity, find joy in unexpected places, and embrace the promise of new beginnings. Firstly, with a keen eye for human nature and the intricacies of human emotion, Dutt weaves stories that are relatable on a deeply personal level. Secondly, the narration is a perfect balance of telling and showing to stir up emotion in the reader. My favourite story is "A Touch of Natural History," which explores human interaction from the point of view of a bonobo (chimpanzee). Despite the limited word count she had to work with, Leela manages to capture my attention and heart with her stories.Because of the many positive aspects mentioned above, I rate the book five out of five stars. From reviews earlier in the autumn of 2023, here is a compilation taken from the Online Bookclub of recent 5-star reviews of FRESH BEGINNINGS by Leela Dutt
In her collection of short stories, Fresh Beginnings, Leela Dutt skillfully crafts introspective tales that illuminate the lives of ordinary people. In The Ocarina, a young Japanese engineering student's reckless accident in Wales leads to a profound connection with a local former POW who repairs his aunt's car, forging their bond through music. (Many)of these narrators are older women reflecting on their life experiences. For instance, in Celebration, the feisty nonagenarian Charlotte entertains readers with her wry and witty voice as she navigates neighbourhood do-gooders planning her birthday celebration.Another noteworthy aspect is the diversity of characters, including immigrants and LGBTQ individuals, emphasizing the universality of the human experience. In Damage, Dutt skillfully shifts perspectives between a teenage boy and his mother in the aftermath of the 2005 London bombings. Dutt's character-driven literary fiction, which beautifully balances poignancy and humour, engages readers effectively. The book's smooth flow effortlessly guides readers through the journeys of these characters, leaving an indelible and enjoyable impression on those who appreciate emotionally rich storytelling.
The author's writing style is extremely impressive—simple yet bold and effective. She has a way with words that makes the story seem relatable, even if it's narrated from the point of view of (a bonobo). The stories themselves were exceptionally fresh and original. They can make you laugh, cry, or put you deep in thought. Each of the characters in all the stories had a different and unique personality trait, be it quirky, serious, or loveable. Creating characters with such distinctive and unexplored personalities is a talent, and I respect the author deeply for that.FRESH BEGINNINGS by Leela Dutt is a wonderful collection of short stories that deal with various themes of life, such as love, loss, change, identity, family, and time. Each story has its unique setting and character, and some of them are based on the author’s personal experiences in different countries.The book also has amazing illustrations by Kate Attfield, who adds charm and beauty to the stories with vivid and expressive drawings. The illustrations complement the tone and mood of the stories and make the book more fun to read.
The stories have different moods and genres, such as comedy, drama, adventure, and historical fiction. Some of the stories are humorous and lighthearted, some are emotional and touching, such as the one about a daughter’s last moments with her father and her mixed feelings towards her mother. Some of the stories are thrilling and adventurous, such as about a family’s trip to France during a terrorist attack in London. Some of the stories are historical and cultural, such as the one about two (cousins) who travel to the 19th-century Copenhagen of Hans Christian Andersen.
The stories are well-written and engaging, with detailed descriptions and realistic dialogues. The author has a deep knowledge of human nature and emotions and creates realistic characters that I could connect with or empathize with. This book is one of my favorite books ever. It is a book that celebrates diversity and humanity and reminds me that life is full of surprises and opportunities. It is a book that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys reading.
In conclusion, Fresh Beginnings by Leela Dutt is a book that will make you feel like you've lived another person's life. The one-person narrative style is a storytelling marvel, making you a part of the protagonist's journey. The memoir is a moving and unforgettable experience that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone seeking a deeply personal connection with a story. Review in 2022 of FRESH BEGINNINGS from Ann Lewis and Pete Thompson Leela Dutt’s latest collection of short stories contains something foreveryone. A few old favourites from previous collections make a welcomereturn while a varied range of new tales entertain, tug at theheartstrings and surprise us by turn.I was not expecting the title story Fresh Beginnings to be a delightfulfarce any more than I expected to be given a view of life through the eyesof someone not quite human.Born of mixed heritage and widely travelled Leela has a deep well of lifeexperience to draw from in writing her stories. Her Quaker faith comesthrough in her gentle, reflective style.These are simple stories with hidden depths. Review of “Fresh Beginnings” by Leela Dutt from Purba ChoudhuryA five-star read!This collection of 11 captivating short stories is a pleasure to read from start to finish. Some stories are poignant and very moving, others quirky, and those told through letters are downright hilarious! The subjects are wide-ranging and capture the nuances of human (and primate!) emotions. You are left still thinking about the stories and characters long after you have finished reading. I thoroughly recommend this collection of short stories by Leela Dutt – and give it five stars!Purba Choudhury, 17 April 2022 New review from the novelist Valerie Norris I admit I'm not usually a short story reader so Fresh Beginnings by Leela Dutt was quite a discovery for me. The volume consists of eleven stories, each one different in content, viewpoint and length. Dipping in was like taking chocolates blindly from a box, where you don’t know what flavour you’re getting but you know it’s going to delight you. What has amazed me is the breadth of the stories. No two are remotely the same, and they are quite astounding in their inventiveness. My favourite? Tough to choose, but I guess it has to be Celebration, a woman’s first person account of her ninetieth birthday and of all the eccentric people that surround her. As with all Leela Dutt’s narratives in this volume, the characters didn’t need many sentences to make them shimmer. New review just in from Dawn Bush: Leela Dutt’s collection of short stories are an eclectic mix; with each new story you’re not quite sure whether you’re going to get a time travelling adventure, a series of “are you serious?!” letters or something a little more thought-provoking. What you can be sure of is that these stories are beautifully written. If Leela Dutt has a USP, it’s that she can make you see the world through a stranger’s eyes – even if that stranger is not quite human. I enjoyed these very much, and was quite disappointed when I realised I’d read through the lot. I hope there are more where these came from.Dawn Bush From Dr Kate North, Reader in Creative Writing, Cardiff Metropolitan University In Fresh Beginnings Leela Dutt shows us how stories can be found - whether in moments of change or in looking back on past experiences. In this collection we are treated to the perspective of a chimpanzee, a journey through time, post-war hunger and reconciliation, the blossoming of love and reflections on grief. If you like short stories, if you like good stories, then Fresh Beginnings is for you. Review from the novelist Vivien Freeman: Stories which hook from the startFresh Beginnings, the new collection of short stories by Leela Dutt, maintains the high standard of writing we expect from this original and engaging author.
Time, and its effects on us, is one of the intriguing themes explored in the collection. In A Royal Wedding, two teen-age cousins time-travel, entering the world of Hans Christian Andersen’s Copenhagen in order to find their missing relative, and find themselves helping another young person in the process.
In The Match, an elderly German movingly reminisces during a reunion with his English counterpart from the family who welcomed him as an adolescent after the Second World War, and with whom he has remained friends ever since. The theme of reconciliation, foregrounded, in The Match, is a recurring one throughout the collection, as in The Ocarina, which treats of healing between nations, and in Blizzard, in which family strife is mended. On all occasions, the subject matter is handled with sensitivity and understanding. We believe in the characters who come to life on these pages, sympathise with their plight, and want to know what will happen to them.
Humour is also present, especially in A Touch of Natural History, with its charming simian narrator, and in the written correspondence of the title story, Fresh Beginnings, and in that of All in a Day’s Work. Comedy is balanced by thought-provoking stories such as Damage and The End of the Road, with its poignant conclusion.
What I will take from all these varied tales is a sense of the uplifting moments in life. I can recommend Fresh Beginnings to anyone searching for a positive and entertaining reading experience. Vivien Freeman, Poet and Novelist 5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging, imaginative short storiesReviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 March 2022 by Noisette, novelist
Leela Dutt’s eleven short stories are beautifully written in clear prose. The themes running through them will certainly raise questions in your mind as they explore family relationships, the gap between generations, rifts and reconciliations. In every-day contexts, the author raises the question of what it means to be human. Although the stories are set mainly in the UK, they reference historical events, such as World War 2: in ‘Ocarina’ an old granddad who worked on the Burma railway is now living in Wales and finds himself helping and befriending a young Japanese visitor. Old enmities are put aside, even though memories are still painful.Many of the stories deal with human relationships. A few contain elements of the metaphysical: in ‘Visitors’ an unknown person turns up at a funeral; she bears a strange resemblance to the narrator’s (Jennifer’s) great-aunt, who died when Jennifer was little. The visitor seems to know a lot about the family, can read thoughts and delivers a few home truths. In ‘Royal Wedding’ a young boy and his cousin invent a time-travel machine and go in search of the boy’s brother to Copenhagen, only to witness the actualisation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy stories.Although the themes of the stories are often serious the narrative is sprinkled throughout with humour and irony. One story ‘Fresh Beginnings’ verges on the farcical with a series of job applications by a charlatan woman who vaunts her own talents. Each application becomes more and more desperate, making it clear that the woman has been dismissed from a succession of previous jobs.Leela Dutt’s ‘Fresh Beginnings’ is a varied, interesting, imaginative and thought-provoking collection, offering the promise of change in the lives of ordinary people. When viewed from the perspective of an ape in ‘Bonobo’, human life is not far removed from theirs but the whole collection of stories suggests a higher moral dimension to our lives which makes us capable of empathy, forgiveness, reconciliation and, above all, gives us the chance to start again.Kate Attfield’s lovely illustrations at the beginning of each story encapsulate the essence and give us a taste of what is to come.Noisette Review from Brian Jackson A very enjoyable read of eleven short stories. A lot of humour and thought provoking, may well inspire me to take up letter writing and I wonder if the author has done this in her 'real life' for fun? The stories are varied and take you on a journey exploring subjects as diverse as time travelling, automobile accidents, death to issues of gender. I would like to attend Charlotte's Quaker meeting. Very well written and lovely illustrations at the start of each chapter.
Reviews of Mathison and Kingfisher Blue
“Ideal Travel or Holiday Reading”
‘Mathison’ tells the story of one family throughout the twentieth century involving an Indian home in Calcutta before the First World War, a Jewish dentist in Nuremberg in the 1930s and a Quaker weekend gathering in the mid-1990s. The two parallel storylines starting either end of the century gradually converge. The author uses the premise of an imaginary computer programme that can write a novel as the reason for exploring this family’s history that clearly draws on her own.
Both ‘Kingfisher Blue’ and ‘Mathison’ are related to Leela Dutt’s Quaker life experiences but her most recent novel, ‘Only a Signal Shown’, is different in that it is simply a love story that weaves around the world as it draws the reader into the story and its conclusion. It grips the reader with its twists and turns between people and places. Her descriptions are vividly first-hand, and she credits her husband for giving her the reason to travel to so many different parts of the world. All Leela’s books would make ideal travel or holiday reading.”