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

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  4,128 Ratings  ·  298 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.
Paperback, 472 pages
Published May 22nd 1998 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1966)
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L. Legault It's not revealed in the later books. I don't think Scott himself had worked out an answer when he wrote the first book. There is one later character…moreIt's not revealed in the later books. I don't think Scott himself had worked out an answer when he wrote the first book. There is one later character who would be a natural fit for the stranger, but Scott does not actually indicate that they are the same person. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 01, 2012 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing
“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
...more
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
...more
Paul Bryant
Apr 09, 2009 Paul Bryant added it
Shelves: novels, india
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
...more
Nicole~
Dec 13, 2013 Nicole~ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jean
Jul 07, 2017 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Back in the late 1960s and 70s, many young people in the UK and other Western countries were fascinated by the East, and especially by India. The search for meaning in life, something greater and mysterious, ran through youthful consciousness. Self-development was at its core; nothing to do with career paths, but to find one’s inner truth or being, and there was a burgeoning desire to experience the ideas and lifestyles of other cultures. This was reflected in the hybrid popular music, newly spi ...more
David
Jul 05, 2007 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-20
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
...more
Hana
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
...more
Cphe
Jan 07, 2017 Cphe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wasn't too sure what to quite expect from the opening novel of The Raj Quartet, it exceeded 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
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Chrissie
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
...more
Catherine  Mustread
Apr 27, 2017 Catherine Mustread rated it liked it
Recommended to Catherine by: Conde Nast Traveler top 69 fiction travel books
Though this book ranks high on the literary scale, and as a subject of interest-- India at the end of the British era, 1930-40s, I got tired of reading it long before the end. Scott gives so many viewpoints of the same event, it was difficult for me to continue turning the pages. Mixed feelings about continuing the series.
Sookie
Feb 19, 2015 Sookie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
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
Roman Clodia
May 26, 2017 Roman Clodia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
But we've got far beyond that stage of colonial simplicity. We've created a blundering judicial robot. We can't stop it working... We created it to prove how fair, how civilised we are. But it is a white robot and it can't distinguish between love and rape.

A searing, harrowing, bleak and terrible indictment of British rule in India, this is perhaps the most sophisticated, nuanced and self-aware analysis of colonialism and its inevitably violent destruction that I've read.

Told via a series of v
...more
Lindz
Mar 27, 2011 Lindz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Megan Baxter
Sep 15, 2015 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it
This book took a long time to get going. And it was not a quick read by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it was taking long enough that I had to adjust how much I was trying to read in a day, so I didn't keep getting frustrated by never getting near my goal. Despite that, I kept reading, and it was never that I wasn't enjoying it. Just that it was slow, and incredibly looping, moving around and around the crux of the novel without ever quite getting close to it until the end.

Note: The re
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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
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Michael Greenwell
Jan 23, 2012 Michael Greenwell rated it really liked it
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
F.R.
Feb 10, 2010 F.R. rated it it was amazing
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
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Gail
Mar 25, 2008 Gail rated it really liked it
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 white...an engrossing multi-faceted wor
...more
Roger Brunyate
Apr 26, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it it was amazing
The Liminal Viewpoint
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.
The third paragraph of the first part of the first volume of Paul Scott's monumental Raj Quartet. This my first time reading it, but I thought I knew it from having seen the British Granada T
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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
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Marieke
Nov 05, 2014 Marieke rated it it was amazing
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.
Elizabeth
Jun 04, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
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.
Philip
Feb 15, 2012 Philip rated it it was amazing
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
...more
C.E. Crowder
Nov 14, 2011 C.E. Crowder rated it really liked it
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
Melinda
Jun 13, 2009 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Laura Leaney
May 29, 2012 Laura Leaney rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Laura by: nandakishore Varma
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Devon
May 11, 2017 Devon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read Paul Scott’s The Jewel in the Crown when I faintly remembered watching the miniseries over a decade ago. Truth be told, shortly after starting the novel I had to go back to the miniseries and watch the first few episodes to make sure I was “getting it.” I was, but the book is much more of a puzzle, piecing together a rather tortuous narrative from different angles through letters, interviews, and testimonies. It takes time to shift into gear with changing perspectives, and when ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Olivia And Jai (Olivia and Jai, #1)
  • The Levant Trilogy
  • Shadow of the Moon
  • Nightrunners of Bengal (The Story-Tellers)
  • Raj
  • The Siege of Krishnapur
  • Black Narcissus
  • Zemindar
  • Women of the Raj
  • Two Under the Indian Sun
  • Slowly Down the Ganges
  • On A Chinese Screen
  • The Mulberry Empire
  • Out of India: Selected Stories
  • Plain Tales from the Raj
  • Men Against the Sea (The Bounty Trilogy, #2)
  • Is Anyone There?
  • Partitions
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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 Towers of Silence
  • A Division of the Spoils (The Raj Quartet, #4)

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“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.” 6 likes
“Rumours began with the whispered gossip of native servants and spread quickly to the rest of the population.” 4 likes
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