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What's trending or not in our bookshelves this week

A heartfelt memoir, the making of Marico, or a cosy murder mystery? Take your reading cues from our snapshot reviews this week

Front covers of the books.
Front covers of the books.

A Farewell To Gabo And Mercedes: By Rodrigo Garcia, HarperCollins, 176 pages, 499.

In a critical moment in Rodrigo Garcia’s memoir, his mother, Mercedes Barcha, reminds him and his brother, Gonzalo, “We are not public figures.” It’s a tough order for her boys to follow as their father, one of the most beloved writers in the world, Gabriel García Márquez, lies ill, suffering from dementia and a bout of cold he won’t recover from. Rodrigo’s narrative, haunting yet reticent, traces the last days of the great writer and the glare of public attention his grieving family was subjected to. Drawing on the past and present, he allows us a glimpse into the complex family man lurking behind the sublime genius of García Márquez—and also into the firm but nourishing figure of his wife. As with the passing of even the most adored parental figures, there is a difficult reckoning with their legacies, which every work of mourning exacts from the aggrieved.

Harsh Realities—The Making Of Marico: By Harsh Mariwala and Ram Charan, Penguin Random House India, 272 pages, 699.

Marico’s founder, Harsh Mariwala, teams up with management coach Ram Charan to chronicle the story of one of India’s largest consumer goods companies. Whether one comes from wealth or sinks one’s savings into an idea, founding a company and building it into a self-sustaining and profitable business requires courage and is fraught with self-doubt. Mariwala talks about all this with disarming honesty, while providing pointers to those starting out or at a crossroads in their entrepreneurial careers. The writing style is a bit odd, with Mariwala and Charan referring to, and quoting, themselves in third person, but the stories behind the scenes, from the way Marico broke away from the family-run Bombay Oil Industries, to its battle with Hindustan Lever for the coconut oil market, make for a fascinating business history.

The Appeal: By Janice Hallett, Viper, 464 pages, 699.

If you are a fan of cosy murder mysteries and epistolary novels, this is the perfect mash-up for you. A small town in the UK rallies around the neighbourhood’s alpha family when they find out their little girl has cancer and needs expensive private treatment. Fund-raising efforts include putting up a play and several increasingly complex social events that add drama to the claustrophobic community setting. The inevitable newcomers, including healthcare workers from the nearby hospital who join the cast of the play, bring their own tensions into these events. Something goes horribly wrong, including a suicide/murder. The events unfold through a series of emails, text messages and newspaper clippings that two members of a solicitor’s office are going through to piece together what really happened in Lockwood. A page-turner in the Christie mould, and a welcome departure from tired Gone Girl wannabes.

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