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A Beggar at the Gate Mass Market Paperback – July 29, 2008


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A Beggar at the Gate + Companions of Paradise + A Singular Hostage
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (July 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553584170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553584172
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,082,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this sequel to A Singular Hostage, native Bostonian and Muslim convert Ali continues the saga of Marianna Givens, a young Englishwoman living in 19th-century India. Though competently written and often entertaining, the novel feels like exoticism cloaked as historical fiction (the prologue delivers a taste of what's to come: in Calcutta, Marianna encounters a Hindu soothsayer who points his "authoritative, brown hand away from the crowd" and tells her that her "path lies to the northwest" and that she "must return there to find [her] destiny"). Marianna casts her lot with the Sufi family of Shaikh Waliullah as she marries his son, the Punjabi courtier, Hassan Ali Khan. She flees to Calcutta with Hassan's infant son, Saboor, to protect him from the opium-addicted Maharajah of Punjab. After two years in exile, Marianna travels back to Lahore to give Saboor to his father, divorce Hassan and return to respectable British society. Ali convincingly captures both Victorian-era Punjabi and British court culture, and her description of the conniving ineptitude of the British as they travel across the subcontinent humanizes them. Upon arriving in Lahore, the traveling party finds itself caught between warring Punjabi factions. The conclusion, in which Marianna predictably displays a redemptive heroism, sets up for the final book in this trilogy, slated for release in 2005.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–In this sequel to A Singular Hostage (Bantam, 2002), Mariana Givens, a tempestuous Englishwoman, is sent to India to find a husband from the surfeit of bachelor British officers there. Two years have passed since her disastrous first visit, when her reputation was ruined by her marriage to a wealthy Punjabi, Hassan. She is devoted to his son Saboor, whom she rescued from kidnappers and has been sheltering. The revelation that the marriage was never consummated affords Mariana the chance to restore her good name: once in Lahore she can return Saboor to his father, request a divorce, and proceed to Afghanistan with her aunt and uncle and the rest of the British entourage. But she again falls under the spell of Hassan and his family, and decides to stay with him. Amid fighting following the death of the maharajah, Mariana goes to tell her aunt and uncle of her decision and returns to find him gravely wounded. This mid-19th-century adventure story contrasts the richness of Islam and its strict laws regarding women with the equally rigid societal norms of privileged, upper-class British. The characters and their actions illustrate the barriers between cultures and the difficulty of establishing trust among peoples with different worldviews. The engaging ending suggests another installment to come.–Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Hutchison on November 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
By the time you get to this sequel of A SINGULAR HOSTAGE, you'll probably be as desperate as I was to find out what happens to the adventurous Mariana, her new husband Hassan (the marriage has yet to be consummated), her spiritually gifted stepson Saboor, and the other fascinating characters in this tale of Victorian India. I found it very hard to put the book down.

I adore the love story -- how delicately it grows out of almost teasingly brief encounters between two people culturally primed to misunderstand each other. I also love the way this trilogy takes you into a different world -- actually, many different worlds -- with part of the delight being the ironic juxtaposition of conflicting world views.

I'm not usually one for mystic plot turns, which do occur regularly in this trilogy, but Ali makes them work well, and along the way you gain an intriguing and sympathetic glimpse into Sufism and the history of what today is Pakistan.

My only complaint is that the final book in the trilogy isn't out yet. I can't wait to read it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Lively on October 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
But WHY does it HAVE to be a trilogy? WHY couldn't it have been a big thick juicy blockbuster? This parceling out of the story in parsimonious portions is driving me BANANAS! I waited for over two years for the rest of the story and now I find out that I get just the middle and have to wait another YEAR for the end. Oh dear.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Kirby-smith on December 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
This was one of the most entertaining books I've read in a while. If you love Indian or Hindu culture, you will love this book. Ali provides a unique look at this culture from the European perspective, at first judgemental, later accepting, and finally, by the end, you fall in love with the beauty of India. Her characters are 3 dimensional and well rounded. I highly recommend this book!
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on September 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
In 1838 India, Englishwoman Mariana Givens arrives to find herself a suitable husband amongst the British military. Many officers want her, but instead she falls in love with a native baby Saboor whose mother died from poison.. During her quest to return the allegedly mystical infant to his father, Mariana falls in love and marries Hassan Ali Khan over the objections of both their societies.

Two years later Mariana realizes she has no place in the Indian world and remains the pariah of English society. She knows it is time to return to Lahore where her spouse lives and do two acts that will destroy her soul. She must return her beloved Saboor so that he can obtain his rightful place as a person supposedly gifted with magical abilities and she must obtain a divorce from Hassan. A heartbroken Mariana must say goodbye to the two native males that she loves for the sake of peace between two cultures on the verge of deadly conflict.

The sequel to SINGULAR HOSTAGE, A BEGGAR AT THE GATE is a terrific insightful historical tale with a touch of romanticism that brings to live mid eighteenth century India. The story line moves rather quickly yet not only has full blooded key characters, but also provides a deep window into two peoples at a point of major strife seemingly ready to turn deadly. Still the center of the novel is Mariana and her relationships with the two males she loves and with Indian and English societies. Readers will beg for more sequels especially what happens to the fascinating Saboor as an adult.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Absorbing, but needs to be read as part of the trilogy. Good historical research on India before the Partition by the British following the Raj.
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