Heat and Dust
views India through the lives of two English women living fifty years apart. Olivia is the first wife of an English government official assigned to India in the 1920s. The unnamed narrator the story is the young granddaughter of the same official by a later wife who, intrigued by family rumors about Olivia, travels to India seeking answers to Olivia's mysterious existence. How, in a segregated society, did Olivia meet an Indian prince of questionable character, and why did she leave her husband for him? What happened to her afterwards? As the narrator stays in the town where Olivia lived and visits places that influenced Olivia's life, we witness India's past through Olivia's letters and journals and the narrator's imagination. For Olivia, removed from the day-to-day existence of the Indian people, India "was like being not in a different part of this world but in another world altogether, in another reality." In contrast, the narrator sublets a room that shares a courtyard with an Indian family and learns much about their life. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala shows us both pre- and post-independent India, exposing the similarities and differences of India's impact on each of these women. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14
. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Holly Smith
About the Author
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala was born in Germany of Polish parents and came to England in 1939 at the age of twelve. She graduated from Queen Mary College, London University, and married an architect. They lived in Delhi from 1951 to 1975. Since then they have divided their time between Delhi, New York and London. As well as her numerous novels and short stories, in collaboration with James Ivory and Ismail Merchant Ruth Prawer Jhabvala has written scripts for film and television, including A Room with a View and Howards End, both of which are Academy Award winners. She won the Booker Prize for Heat and Dust in 1975, the Neil Gunn International Fellowship in 1978, the MacArthur Foundation Award in 1984 and was made a CBE in the 1998 New Year's Honours List.
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