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The Jungle Law [Kindle Edition]

Victoria Vinton
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.00
Kindle Price: $2.99
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Book Description

In the tradition of The Hours and The Master, The Jungle Law offers a glimpse into the life of Rudyard Kipling, author of the beloved classic, The Jungle Book.
In 1892, at the age of twenty-six, Rudyard Kipling arrived in Vermont, virtually penniless, with a newly pregnant wife and the germ of a story about a feral child who was raised by a pack of wolves. Having fled the literary high life in London, he hoped to find a quiet corner in which to raise a family and work, where he might build a sanctuary that could offer him refuge from the scrutiny incurred by his burgeoning fame and the wounds of his own troubled past.
From this literary footnote, Vinton has fashioned a novel of wisdom and grace. She brings to life Kipling’s early years in Bombay where he lived as the pampered son of a well-connected British family and explores the repercussions of the abandonment he felt when, at age six, he was severed from his family and sent to live in a foster home in England that he later dubbed “The House of Desolation.” And she shows how those experiences formed the basis of his art, how from this cauldron of comfort and pain he wrote The Jungle Books and created his most enduring character, Mowgli.
Mixing fact and invention, Victoria Vinton parallels Kipling’s story with that of his neighbors, the Connollys, who are forced to question the decisions they have made in the wake of Kipling’s presence in their lives. Eleven-year-old Joe Connolly finds himself drawn to Kipling and his stories, seeing in the adventures of Mowgli a template for his own escape. Jack, his father, views Kipling’s influence over his son as a challenge to his very sense of self. And Addie, Jack's wife, must embrace and assimilate these changes in order to hold her family together, as each is confronted by the unsettling power of the imagination.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The need to create facsimile lives for our literary heroes is waxing. It isn't enough for readers to enjoy the work of authors they love in the characters they have created; we want to know more about both the author and the characters. If we can't know the truth, then fabricate a story for us. Michael Cunningham has done it with Virginia Woolf and Walt Whitman, Colm Tóibín with Henry James, and many versions of Sherlock Holmes's putative life-in-retirement have been making the rounds. One of the best is The Jungle Law, Victoria Vinton's tale of Rudyard Kipling, himself one of the best storytellers of all time. In 1892, 26-years-of-age and nearly broke, but expecting royalties from his successful books, Ruddy and his wife Caroline leave London for rural Vermont. There they will build a home, their firstborn will arrive, and Kipling will seek out the quiet he needs to invite his "Daemon" to call. This much is fact.

Down the road from the Kipling home lives the Connolly family: Jack, Addie, and Joe, their 11-year-old son. The gray sameness of their stunted, ingrown lives could not be more different from Kipling's. And, that difference resides in the imagination. Addie does the laundry for Caroline and when Joe delivers it, he meets the exuberant Rudyard and is drawn irretrievably into the spell of his stories. He meets Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves; and Shere Khan, a fierce Bengal tiger; Mowgli's friends, Baloo a brown bear and Bagheera a black panther; and Kaa, a 30-foot python. Joe is led into this lush jungle, filled with sounds and color and fragrance and danger, and he identifies with Mowgli's bravery. Then, he goes home to his ill-tempered father who is dismissive of Kipling because he is afraid he is losing Joe to him, but is unable to temper his granite facade.

Of course, once these opposing camps have been set up, there must be conflict. Mowgli was 11 when he took on Shere Khan; how can Joe do less? Vinton has taken a page from Kipling in describing Mowgli's gathering of the animals:

There are sambar deer, the color of cashews, wild pigs with their sickle-shaped tusks of hair that sprout from their chins and hang, curled like a mandarin's beard ... Mowgli stands with his hands on his hips, his legs splayed and his chest bared and gleaming, no longer the child who would bumble and fall as he tried to keep up with the pack.

Heady stuff for a Vermont boy who has known nothing but hardship, monotony, a loutish, often drunken father, and a timid mother. Vinton creates an entirely convincing climax to her very well-written book. She even provides a coda giving us insight into Kipling's last days. A first-rate first novel. --Valerie Ryan

From Publishers Weekly

Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936), born to a British family in Bombay and raised by a foster family in England, moved to Vermont in 1892. He and his wife were basically broke, but his literary star was on the rise, and he sought a place to work and raise a family. First-time novelist Vinton, using a free and direct third person, presents Kipling's life there as he worked on what became The Jungle Books. When Kipling encounters a Vermont farm boy, Joe Connolly, Kipling uses storytelling to draw him out. Their relationship enrages the boy's father, depressed, aggressive Irish immigrant Jack. Jack can't, however, stop the writer and Joe from talking, and the two discuss a new character Kipling is turning over in his mind: Mowgli, abandoned in the jungle and raised by animals. Kipling proceeds to draw on his conversations with the impoverished boy, as well as his own experience with abandonment and with a cruel foster family, to develop Mowgli's story. But there's way too much distance between the omniscient narrator and Kipling and the others: Vinton gets into their heads effectively enough but doesn't render what she finds there with immediacy or abandon. (Oct. 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 469 KB
  • Print Length: 317 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385662963
  • Publisher: MP Publishing Limited (February 16, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002U0KXIW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,931 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a lovely book. December 29, 2005
Format:Hardcover
THE JUNGLE LAW by Victoria Vinton brings the author Rudyard Kipling to life -- fictional life, that is, as Vinton presents her interpretation of what may have happened when Kipling and his wife, Caroline, moved to Vermont in 1892. It was there that Caroline bore a child and Kipling developed the character Mowgli of The Jungle Books. Now, this is beautiful literature.

Vinton invents the Connollys, neighbors for the Kiplings: Joe, a boy of 11; his mother, who does the Kiplings' laundry; and Joe's jealous, abusive father. The adults are kept apart by class barriers, but Kipling and the boy become friends.

For Joe, Kipling's house "is like a marvelous treasure trove, filled with all sorts of riches." And when Kipling talks, it's exciting, colorful and lyrical. Joe is fascinated by him. Kipling introduces his young neighbor to the Law of the Jungle and to the world of wonder inside his own mind.

The book centers around their relationship, but it's really about imagination -- the glorious treasures inside Kipling's head and the boy's budding curiosity about ideas and possibilities. In the midst of his mean, hard life, the boy daydreams about Kipling's travel tales. His dreams become grander and his mind becomes more free -- and his father hates the result.

Her characters are complex and she evokes vivid emotions, but it's Vinton's language that is simply gorgeous, with lush images. The book is a pleasure to read: "Light falls through the trees in bright dapples, glancing off the fruit in the trees and the wings of the monarchs that flutter and perch on the Queen Anne's lace by the roadside.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
"Jungle Law" is Victoria Vinton's fictionalized historical account of the period, in the late 19th century, when author Rudyard Kipling and his wife, Carrie, came to live in Vermont, USA. This is where he wrote the glorious stories later called "The Jungle Books." In her imaginative debut novel, Ms. Vinton mingles fact with fiction and vividly brings to life Kipling's early years in Bombay, India, where he lived a pampered existence as the only son of a well-to-do British family. She connects his very early experiences in India, as well as later less agreeable ones in England, with the material he used to create the wonderful books and characters that have delighted children and adults for generations.

Kipling was born in Bombay, where his father, John Lockwood Kipling, was an arts and crafts teacher at the Jeejeebhoy School. His mother was a sister-in-law of the painter Edward Burne-Jones. Ruddy, as Kipling was affectionately called, was brought up by an ayah who taught him Hindustani as his first language. At the age of six he was taken to England by his parents and left for five years with extended family, virtual strangers. This experience, the abrupt separation from his parents and India, his first home, proved to be a traumatic one for the little boy. He was to write about his feelings during this period later in life, when he dubs his foster home, "The House of Desolation." .

In 1892 Kipling married Caroline Starr Balestier, the sister of an American publisher and writer. The young couple moved to the United States, to Brattleboro Vermont where the author wrote the stories which comprise "The Jungle Books." The most familiar, and perhaps best loved, are the Mowgli tales where an Indian baby, Mowgli, is lost in the jungle after Shere Khan, (the tiger), kills his family.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Invitation Into Another Lifetime March 17, 2008
Format:Hardcover
Victoria Vinton, whose stories have appeared in a variety of publications including "Prairie Schooner" and "Sewanee River", has a gem of a first novel in The Jungle Law. Using what has been described as a literary footnote, Vinton has crafted an imaginative, engaging tale of Rudyard Kipling and a small neighbor boy, and the exchanges between them which led to the very famous Kipling work, The Jungle Book.

In an effort to escape increasing fame, Kipling moved his then pregnant wife to Vermont in the late nineteenth century. It is in the backdrop of the rural Vermont countryside that VInton introduces us to Kipling, his wife and their nearest neighbors, the Connellys. Young Joe Connelly's lively imagination helps to spark some of the details that any Jungle Book fan would readily recognize. Many of the characteristic mannerisms of the Jungle Book's "man-child" Mowgli are descriptions of Joe at play with Kipling urging the boy to imagine he is the man-child being raised by jungle animals.

Vinton weaves the story of young Joe Connelly through the story of the Kiplings in Vermont, but the strongest thread in her tale is that of the evolution of The Jungle Book.

Kipling spent part of his early life in Bombay. His family was filled with eccentric members whose stories infused a love of words and storytelling into the impressionable and imaginative Kipling. A move to England catapulted the writer into a literary mecca where he kept company with many notables. Because his privacy was far more important to him than fame, he moved to rural Vermont in the hopes of finding a place where he and his Daemon (the equivalent of his muse) would be able to take the seeds of a story and see it through to its end. The roots of those story seeds were in his days in Bombay.
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