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Showing 1-10 of 95 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 127 reviews
on January 7, 2017
Wasn't too sure what to quite expect from the opening novel of The Raj Quartet, but it ended up exceeding my expectations. The novel deals with the ending of British rule in India. The story surrounds a specific event and is told from varying points of view. It did require some patience to start with, sorting out the characters and their relation to each other.

Quite rich in detail, atmosphere and the politics of the time, India's quest for Independence. Based on this opening novel have gone on and purchased the other novels in the quartet. An interesting period in history, one that I knew very little about.
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on April 11, 2016
In Jewel in the Crown, Scott brought to life in intricate detail an incredibly contested era and Anglo-Indian history, the end of the British Raj. Through the characters and their stories we see the perspectives of both sides of the question of Indian self-governance at a particularly fascinating moment of history. All through the lens of Scott's incredibly lush story telling that makes you feel as if you are right there in the story, which makes all the joys and tragedies that much harder to bear as a reader who has been sucked in to the story. For those of who are squeamish around depictions of racial injustice, I would warn you to read this book with some detachment, if you can. The descriptions of racial prejuidice and subjugation that were so ingrained at this time can be a little hard to get through, especially if you have a personal connection to India. I would not discourage you from reading this book though, as it is a story that needs to be read. I can't wait to see what happens in the next one.
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on February 27, 2015
War! Revolution! Ethnic barriers! Class envy! Love triangle! Sexually frustrated, corrupt district superintendent of police! Had Puccini and his librettist still been active, the initial novel of Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet would have inspired the grandest of operas. Instead it morphed into the early portions of Granada Television’s fourteen-episode series, The Jewel in the Crown, run 1984 in Britain by ITV and a few years later in USA by PBS.

The novel reads like a detailed source book or case study. Lili Chatterjee, Edwina Crane, Sister Ludmila Smith, Lady Ethyl Manners, Daphne Manners and other characters are represented by their journals, reports and letters which provide disparate views of events leading to the pivotal Bibighar Park encounter. Though faithful to characters, setting and plot, Granada had to create most of the dialogue because the novel actually provided very little.

Reading The Jewel in the Crown from first word to last requires one to clear the decks and focus for a week. Would this project be worth the effort? Yes, if the history buff wishes to step into the final years of the British Raj. Yes, if the PBS fan wants to appreciate Granada’s triumph. Yes if the composer and poet want to upstage Tosca!
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on July 22, 2015
I would say that the Raj Quartet would primarily interest readers who either know or are seriously interested in India, especially life and politics immediately preceding, during and following WWII. Having spent several years in SE Asia and visited India repeatedly, I greatly enjoyed the Quartet, despite the fact that it is extremely detailed and what some would call "slow moving". I was very glad to find it at Amazon.
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on March 17, 2013
This book, the events of which occurred in 1942 but are retold from the perspective of 1964, Involve two (fictional) events centered on the (fictional) Indian city of Mayapore, in the somewhat chaotic atmosphere unleashed by Gandhi's "Quit India" movement. The events are the ambush of a jeep carrying an elderly female missionary and the murder of her driver by an Indian mob; and, much more sensationally and also far more central to the plot, the rape of a naive young English woman by what is presumed to be a band of Indian laborers. Daphne Manners, experiencing India for the first time, falls in love with Harry Coomer/Hari Kumar, an Indian who was brought up and educated in England before being forced to return to India because of his father's bankruptcy. Their love crosses fixed racial lines, causing disapproval on all sides.

Although the story is, in some senses, a simple one, Scott's retelling of it is not simple at all. Only very gradually is the full story revealed, and almost every possible perspective is utilized in long passages with frequent temporal dislocation: the elderly and sophisticated Rajput princess with whom Daphne was living; the "nun" whose Sanctuary was the site of much contact between Daphne and Hari; the military and civil British authorities who were trying to keep order in Mayapore; and the letters or journals of Hari and Daphne themselves. Although there is nothing suspenseful about the outcome, Scott is pains to explain the tragic story only slowly, and it becomes more engaging as the details emerge and the entire background is gradually filled in. The unknown narrator (who may well be Guy Perron, the future academic of the later novels) is determined to unravel the mystery, and the entire novel reads like a detective story.

Scott was a masterful writer. I have never been to India, but his writing is a rich evocation of an entire experience, including the distinctive sights and smells and sounds. The Raj is a world that has largely gone, although its residue certainly remains in modern India. There is already here a strong sense of the impending disaster of partition that followed independence, although Scott tells his tale largely from the perspective of the British observers.

What happens in this book is absolutely essential to understanding the subsequent three novels in the quadrilogy, although (for different reasons) neither Hari Kumar nor Daphne Manners will figure in them. But the repercussions of Daphne's rape, and of the Indian unrest that followed it, will be deep and long. So there is much to look forward to!
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on December 21, 2016
This is a real thought piece told from the varying viewpoints of the characters. I only know the Indian history you see in movies like Gandhi. The 20th century history of India is so much more complicated. Everybody's right and wrong. It's like an Indian Rashomon (however that's spelled). You can't skim this book; you have to take your time and enjoy the language. I did find it a bit depressing; people really are stupid. But if you love language and have the time for it you'll enjoy this book.
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on April 27, 2009
Many years ago I watched the Jewel in the Crown. Since then I have been looking for the books and now I have them. I just loved this volume of the first 2 books of the Quartet. The writting is wonderful and the charecters are richly drawn. I love this book, and can't wait to start the final volume.
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on June 26, 2015
The thing about this book is that you have to like Paul Scott's writing style to like the book. He is not a man in a hurry with short punchy sentences and snappy dialogue. The Jewel in the Crown is a meander like a river. It flows from one place to another at a pace you will probably like or hate --depending on what you like to read. I would definitely recommend a sample. You will know right away whether you like it. For me, it's working because I am a lover of long books and am hardly ever in hurry to get to the end.
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on April 14, 2013
I have never been very interested in India since I was a boy - snakes, tigers and all that. Nor did I watch the series or previously read the books. But this first story of the agonies of being an Indian with an English Public School education, accent and background is only one of the facets in this jewel of a story. The writing is truly 'literary'. I mention facets because there are several viewpoints that amplify the dimensions of the story - Hari Kumar (Harry Coomer) is the English inside, Indian outside boy raised in England who is thrust back painfully into the squalor, impenetrable politics and ordure of India in 1942. Anyone who has been in the Orient can recall the smells that are described. Other facets of story are given by other participants: the plain English girl, Daphne Manners, who falls in love with Hari; Merrick, the jealous and spiteful police official who asked Daphne to marry him and was turned down; Brigadier Reid, the local British commander who itched to get in there with 'aid to the civil power' and shoot or beat a few wogs to show them their place, and a host of other well-drawn characters who add their particular facet to this jewel of a story. Daphne's tragedy leads to the birth of a new person whom I hope I will see in successive volumes. I will read them soon, so I do not yet have the whole scene. But this finely drawn novel is fascinating once you get used to the style.
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on February 4, 2016
This is an interminably long, almost stream of consciousness book. Yet I find myself continuing to read. It is giving me a very in depth understanding of what the mentality was in the first half of the 20th century of the many various classes of people living in India at the time and under the domination of the British both from the Indian's point of view and that of their so-called "protectors." I probably will eventually finish it. But I doubt I will order the succeeding volumes. But who knows? Will I be compelled to read more?
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