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The Far Pavilions Paperback – January 15, 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 232 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Rich in adventure, heroism, cruelty and love.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A high-adventure love story told without ever a dull moment in the old tradition of the great storytellers of the too distant past.” ―Book Review

“One of the true big ones.” ―Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A great romantic adventure novel. She is a born storyteller.” ―Paul Scott, author of The Raj Quartet

About the Author

M.M. Kaye was a British author who was born in India and spent much of her childhood and adult life there. She became world famous with the publication of her monumental bestseller The Far Pavilions. She is also the author of a series of mysteries, the bestselling Trade Wind and Shadow of the Moon, as well as a three volume autobiography.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (January 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031215125X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312151256
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (232 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Woodley on December 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is at once a sweeping romance, a gripping adventure story, and a tale about identity and belonging. I just love it, and re-read it regularly. M M Kaye is simply the most marvellous story teller, and her descriptions of India are breath-taking too.
It is the story of Ashton/Ashok - an English boy brought up by a peripatetic father in the foothills of the Himalayas - he is about 6 years old when cholera strikes the camp and kills everyone but himself and his nurse. She takes him down into India to give him back to the safety of the English - but this is 1857 and India is in mutiny against the English. Ash, having been brought up amongst Indians can speak their languages fluently, and he is the right colouring to pass as one of the races from the North where they are paler. So his nurse escapes from the troubles with him and brings him up as her own son. This sets the stage for many of his later problems, the key one being that of his identity - for when he must later seek safety with the English and his true birth is revealed he finds it difficult to know who he truly is for he is at once Indian and English. While a boy Ash meets Anjuli, a princess in the court where he is working. She is the daughter of an Indian/Russian mother - and because of her birth, and her mother's death in the court, she is also never really properly accepted.
MM Kaye sets this story against the grand displays of Indian courts, the British army (which Ashton later joins to return to India), teeming bazaars, and the different cultures and religions of India.
Its an enormous book to get through but it is well worth pretty much every page. I've never been one for long descriptions of war, and the scenes of the siege in Afghanistan towards the end I always find a bit of a trial.
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Format: Paperback
_The Far Pavilions_ is a sweeping tapestry of a novel encompassing numerous characters and situations set against the cultural clash of British India. The clash of cultures is embodied in the main character, Ashton Pelham-Martyn. Born in India and raised by a Hindu woman after the death of his parents, he later learns that he is actually English. He's sent to his father's family in England to be brought up "properly" and returns to India as an officer in the military, but soon discovers that his early experiences have made it impossible for him to be truly English, just as his English training has made it impossible for him to be truly anything else. Along the way he meets and falls in love with the half-caste Hindu princess, Anjuli, another whose mixed birth causes her much tribulation and pain in a land rife with bigotry from all sides and built on traditions that make it all but impossible for people of different cultures to meet and accept one another in purely human terms.
M. M Kaye does a magnificent job depicting the various cultures and systems of thought prevalent in India and the surrounding areas at the time. For the most part she does so without giving any value judgement, but she is not timid about pointing out that every culture has its fanatics and that these can cause many problems for the bulk of the population who just want to live their lives in peace. She also excellently conveys the inherent sadness of a situation where caste laws and religious differences come between people who otherwise love one another.
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This is a book that I have been recommended countless times and always declined reading. I can no longer really remember why, except that the first page always seemed a stiff and confusing. But this year, upon seeing the number of pages the book was (1200 pages in mass market paperback) and being recommended it one more time I decided to give it a shot.

All I can say is wow! This is one of those historical epics that ranks right up there with Gone With the Wind in terms of scope, romance, and underlying issues. It's just an amazing novel.

This is the story of Ashton, who is raised from birth by a Hindu foster mother while his father treks around Indian on linguistic missions. When his father dies and the sephoy mutiny happens, his foster mother Sita (a women with real courage) discuses the already dark skinned Ash as her own son and takes him to a remote state where the violence against the British has yet to spread. Here he becomes the servant/playmate of the heir to the throne and the boy's half-sister, Juli. But the heir is in danger from his wicked stepmother who wants him dead so her own son will be heir and when Ash prevents this one to many times he and Sita must flee for their lives. It is then that Sita revels Ash is really British and sends him off to find his own "people."

Of course later Ash will find Juli again-when he is assigned to escort her and thousands of others to her wedding in a far away state. You can guess what kind of turmoil this turns up.
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