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The Jewel in the Crown (The Raj Quartet #1)

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  3,197 ratings  ·  222 reviews
No set of novels so richly recreates the last days of India under British rule--"two nations locked in an imperial embrace"--as Paul Scott's historical tour de force, " The Raj Quartet." "The Jewel in the Crown" opens in 1942 as the British fear both Japanese invasion and Indian demands for independence. On the night after the Indian Congress Party votes to support Gandhi, ...more
Paperback, 472 pages
Published May 22nd 1998 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1966)
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Community Reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
“English is the language of a people who have probably earned their reputation for perfidy and hypocrisy because their language itself is so flexible, so often light-headed with with statements which appear to mean one thing one year and quite a different thing the next.”

Whenever I run into someone who has been to India, not just visited, but actually lived there. I'm always infinitely too curious and whenever anyone admits to being somewhere I haven't been; I grill them Ronald Merrick style (I
Nandakishore Varma
It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is the most awesome novel which I have read about British India. The story is gripping: the language poetic ("the indigo dreams of flowers fallen asleep", to recall a phrase which lingers in the memory): and the characterisation near flawless. Even after more than twenty years (I think it's nearer twenty-five), I can recall the some scenes as if I had read the novel yesterday.

Just look at how Scott starts the novel off:

Imagine, then, a flat landsc
Paul Bryant
Nov 23, 2012 Paul Bryant added it
Shelves: india, novels
You'll only find 4 and 5 star reviews for The Jewel in the Crown on this site. And it is, indeed, a towering achievement. Towering! Magnificent! So ... er... what went wrong for me?

Do you remember James Joyce said that if Dublin burned down he wanted them to be able to rebuild it by reading Ulysses, meaning that every brick and stone, every chemists shop and stretch of beach, every busker and cabman's shelter was to be found in Ulysses in its exact location and condition in the book, not one ato
India is The Jewel in the Crown. It signified the Crown's most precious dominion of the Victorian era- its control, forced conformity, "civilizing" and exploitation of India.

 photo image_zps3327d95e.jpg
Missionary Edwina Crane's semiallegorical picture titled "The Jewel in Her Crown"

In 1942, the end of Empire was imminent, becoming a reality; the only justifiable reason for the British remaining in India was to defeat the Japanese threat of invasion. But, the Indians had lost faith in imperial justifications, their riotou
My yardstick for excellent writing about a foreign culture is probably Paul Scott's "The Raj Quartet", which was the basis for the BBC TV series "The Jewel in the Crown". I think these four books are a real tour de force - he writes in several different voices throughout, but remains - I think - completely sensitive to the political and social complexities and subtleties of the situation in India towards the end of the British occupation. Very nuanced, extraordinarily sensitive writing.

Only spac
This one will haunt me. The Jewel in the Crown sings an evening raga for India, filled with the sounds of rain, the dust of the dry season, the smells, the labyrinthine back alleys and segregated neighborhoods, and a looming sense of disaster -- national and personal.

I have never seen multiple points of view handled more effectively. The characters weave their way through multiple narratives and are glimpsed through each others' eyes; most of the characters are also granted a moment when they s
Susan and I were discussing this book. This is how I explained my three stars to her:

I got up at 4 this morning to write the review which I was thinking about as I lay in bed........then I ended up doing other stuff. I am so terribly busy at the moment.

The book does an excellent job of depicting how Indians and the British looked at each other at the time of Partition. Nevertheless, from the very beginning you know pretty much who did what and even why. The book discusses the same events over an
Unlike Wide Saargasso Sea, Paul scott casts a wider net to encompass not only social aspect of British reign in India but also explores class warfare within British Indians and the slowly brewing times of revolution.Set in a country on the brink of war and weary of colonial rule, gang rape of a young British woman associated with a young Indian man shakes the apparent stillness that seemed to have covered the vast lands. It stops being a case about a British and an Indian; the investigation tak ...more
This is a very clever novel.

If you were ever interested in the last years before Indian Independence, this is the novel. After the arrests of Gandhi and other members of the Indian Congress of 1942 a white woman Daphne Manners is attacked and raped by an unknown gang. But this is not by any means a clear cut, simple historical fiction. Scott uses this one event to look at India under a microscope in 1942, the complex social hierarchies and political philosophies.

'Jewel in the Crown' is a very
This was recommended to me by a friend in the real world (hats off to AC in Islington) and I have to say I am extremely grateful. ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ is an excellent novel, which manages to bring together well drawn characters, a beautiful setting, a crime story and an examination of a disintegrating society.

Towards the end of the Raj a gang rape takes place in Mayapore province. We learn the events leading up to the rape, its immediate aftermath, the way the case against the accused was pr
If I understood even half of Indian history as much as this book expects me to…I would probably think it the best of the best in Indian historical fiction. Unfortunately, I am as clueless as they come when it comes to Indian history and it’s politics. And this book assumes you know far too much then I actually do.

The narrative style of the book is also a little disorienting. For example, as this is the story of a British woman’s rape, while the acts and consequences which follow form the entire
Michael Greenwell
The British Raj is not an easy concept to grapple with from this side of independence, nuances having been washed away by a relatively simple narrative of unjustified occupation and its eventual and inevitable demise. That is certainly part of the story, but it doesn't capture the complexity of the situation, I suspect that no single work can, however Paul Scott makes a pleasantly informative attempt in The Jewel in the Crown, a book that unravels a number of distinct, fascinating, and ultimatel ...more
Stephanie Sun
I read two very, very good four-star books in January (Gaudy Night and Open City) that made me question my motives for withholding that final star. The superior mastery on display in The Jewel in the Crown put those doubts to rest for good.

Daphne Manners, Hari Kumar, and Mayapore—where have you been all my life?

Although at times the seemingly infinite depths of self-awareness of our hero ("young Mr. Kumar") and heroine ("that Manners girl") strain credulity, this is the sole flaw in this mind-ex
Part One of The Raj Quartet, this long novel has rape as its core...but not the physical rape of Daphne. That rape is used as a vehicle to explore the complex relationships between the British and the Indians in India in the years leading up to 1942.
The book is divided into sections, each one giving a different perspective on the "Bibighar Incident" and on what it means to be Indian, to be British, to be a colonizer and one of the colonized, to be black or engrossing multi-faceted wor
I already feel like I need to read this again. It is sort of Rashomon-like, the way it tells the same story from different perspectives, but it is also epistolary, because so much was told through diaries, letters, and even a book excerpt. Ummm I'm getting interrupted by a visitor so maybe I'll be back to muse some more about this book and maybe not. In any case, I want to read the rest of the books and see the British mini-series based on the quartet.
This is the story of a rape, of the events that led up to it and followed it and of the place in which it happened. There are the action, the people, and the place; all of which are interrelated but in their totality incommunicable in isolation from the moral continuum of human affairs"

Extremely powerful way to begin a narrative and believe me the impact builds momentum.

Difficult to imagine a storyline comprised of racial and class issues, colonialism along with the ever powerful veil of unce
Laura Leaney
Jul 06, 2012 Laura Leaney rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: nandakishore Varma
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathleen Hagen
The Jewel in the Crown, by Paul Scott. A-plus
The first, I believe, of the Raj quartet. The main and central event in this book, as is explained by the first lines, was the rape of a white woman by a gang of Indian hooligans. The rape took place as a part of a rebellion staged in 1942 by forces in India against the British. The victim, Daphne Manners, was known to be seeing a young Indian man whom the English particularly disliked because he had been educated in England and spoke better English t
Martin Zook
If agape is selfless love, a passion committed to the other, then that is how I felt at the end of The Jewel in the Crown.

There are two stories here, one within the other. The inner story is of a young Englishwoman named Daphne who immerses herself in India and the flow of history during the volatile period of 1942. The larger story is of the relationship between the colonizer and its subject, both yearning for India's freedom, yet unable to get it done.

In both cases, they are stories of the Siv
Kressel Housman
The Raj Quartet is my mother’s favorite series of all time, so like with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I’ve heard raves about it for decades, but it took a Goodreads group read for me to finally start it. And yes, it deserves all the praise my mother heaped on it. Truly, this is a masterpiece.

The story is set in India in the 1940’s, so the rebellion of colonized India against British rule is a major theme, but the story is about individual Brits and natives and their relationship with each
I originally read this when the PBS Masterpiece version appeared in 1984; I remember we couldn't keep it on the shelves in the library! It remains a fabulous story of race and class, elegantly written, character centered, told in a circuitous manner from multiple perspectives. The prose is absolutely seductive, filled with beautifully detailed landscapes and vivid character portraits. But the story is driven by class and racial differences, which may be why it still resonates today. The discussi ...more
Karen Alexander
This a big broad book about the English rule of India at the time when war with Germany and Japan are threatening the English. At it's heart is the story of an Indian boy brought up in England and then returned to India when his only parent dies. Hari has gone to a good, private secondary school in England and so his education as well as his spoken English are excellent. In India however he comes in contact with Englishmen who have only a grammar school education in England, an education in Indi ...more
I stand by it: This is beyond orientalist, not a culprit of the genre at all. Paul Scott undoes Forster, the British colonial mindset, and the orientalist-model historic novel. It is brilliant. If you tell me you saw the BBC miniseries and thought it was anti-post-subaltern-modern, I will get annoyed.
Elizabeth Moffat
Before starting this novel, I had heard great things about Paul Scott’s The Raj Quartet, and when it was picked by a GoodReads group as part of the British Empire Challenge, I knew I had to read it. The novel opens in India 1942, where the British stationed there fear not only talks of a Japanese invasion but India’s demands for independence. You get the feeling that Paul Scott knows exactly what he is writing about, he served in the army based in India and Malaya from 1940-1946 so the story has ...more
Paul Scott’s The Jewel In The Crown is the first of his tetralogy of novels on British India. These really were the last days of the Raj. And the jewel in Empress Victoria’s crown was India, itself. Without it Britain may have remained a colonial power rather than an imperial one. Status was all.

But Paul Scott’s book is no jingoistic celebration of empire. On the contrary it lays bare the pretensions, the racism and above all the class divisions that characterise the society that Britain exporte
C.E. Crowder
I read this novel for comparison with "A Passage to India," which I tackled earlier this year and thought was fantastic. The Wikipedia entry for "Jewel" described it as a rewriting of "Passage," but that's an exaggeration. True, the setting is India in the descending phase of the Raj's grandeur, and much of the plot centers around the assault of an English woman. But the differences are also significant. "Passage" was written in the 1920s when eventual Indian independence was expected but had no ...more
Several of the characters in this novel find themselves in a social position where they do not fully belong to either British society or Indian society, but are somehow caught between the two. This seems to be one of Paul Scott's themes. It makes a noticeable contrast with other books which suggest that the societies were quite separate.
The traditional societies are somewhere in the background disapproving. This amorphous background chorus of disapproval doesn't work for me, everyone thinking ex
This is a long, leisurely, high-detailed novel ostensibly about the rape by Indians of a young Englishwoman in India in 1942, just when the country was on the verge of splitting up between the Muslims and Hindus and becoming independent from England. The story is enriched by being told from multiple points of view, and by the incredible amount of detail in it about Indian and British lives. After reading descriptions of the layout of Mayapore, and the division between "black town" and the Britis ...more
Tariq Mahmood
Will there be any other writer capable of understanding the nuances of British rule in India other than Paul Scot, ever? The arguments and counter arguments for and against Indian Independence are very aptly presented in this wondrously weaved tale of forbidden love and misplaced loyalties in imperialist India. One aspect almost never talked about in factual history books was British reliance on diversity of opinions in British India, otherwise known as the divide and rule policy. On the other h ...more
Kiera Healy
I read this because I enjoyed Staying On so much. The Jewel in the Crown takes place in Indian in 1942, against a background of World War II and the fight for independence. It concerns the gang rape of a young Englishwoman by a group of Indians. The story is told in retrospect, with an unnamed figure collecting reports from various people involved. As a result, the story has a piecemeal feel to it, and we see more of the plot unfold each time it's retold from a fresh perspective.

I didn't enjoy t
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  • The Levant Trilogy
  • Olivia And Jai
  • Shadow of the Moon
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  • Nightrunners of Bengal (The Story-Tellers)
  • Raj
  • On A Chinese Screen
  • The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism
  • The Siege of Krishnapur (Empire Trilogy, #2)
  • The Original Illustrated Mark Twain
  • Two Under the Indian Sun
  • Out of India: Selected Stories
  • Women of the Raj
  • Slowly Down the Ganges
  • Black Narcissus
  • The Mulberry Empire
  • The Village in the Jungle
  • The Mandelbaum Gate
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Paul Scott was born in London in 1920. He served in the army from 1940 to 1946, mainly in India and Malaya. He is the author of thirteen distinguished novels including his famous The Raj Quartet. In 1977, Staying On won the Booker Prize. Paul Scott died in 1978.
More about Paul Scott...

Other Books in the Series

The Raj Quartet (4 books)
  • The Day of the Scorpion (The Raj Quartet, #2)
  • The Towers of Silence (The Raj Quartet, #3)
  • A Division of the Spoils (The Raj Quartet, #4)
Staying On The Day of the Scorpion (The Raj Quartet, #2) The Towers of Silence (The Raj Quartet, #3) A Division of the Spoils (The Raj Quartet, #4) The Raj Quartet

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“Rumours began with the whispered gossip of native servants and spread quickly to the rest of the population.” 4 likes
“English is the language of a people ho have probably earned their reputation for perfidy and hypocrisy because their language itself is so flexible, so often light-headed with with statements which appear to mean one thing one year and quite a different thing the next.” 4 likes
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