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The Towers of Silence (The Raj Quartet #3)

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  719 ratings  ·  37 reviews
In this third volume of The Raj Quartet, attention focuses on Barbara Batchelor, a retired mission school teacher. We see the world through her eyes and with her perspective.

The Manners case and the politics of Congress leader Mohammed Ali Kasim are relegated to the background as Barbara takes the lead. Where women are traditionally reticent, her character is a revolution

Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 1st 1984 by Avon Books (first published 1971)
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This book is the third one of the series The Raj Quartet.

Some historical background which is important in order to follow the plot:

Pankot, Barbie Batchlor's new home:

Page 50:
Gandhi's quit India resolution (Quit India Movement), August 14th, 1942.

Page 100:
Subhas Chandra Bose takes the leadership of the Indian National Army.

Page 284:
...the defeat of the Japanese attempt to invade India at Imphal...

The plot is set in Pankot which is a "second class" hill station in the province which serves as a
The Towers Of Silence, the third of Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet, is very much a novel about women. Set in India in the 1940s, the war impinges on almost every aspect of their lives, but they experience conflict largely second hand via the consequences for their male associates. Their lives are changed because those of their men folk have been affected. But it is the internal conflicts, as these women strive to maintain normality within the abnormal, that provide the book with its real substance, it ...more
Kressel Housman
This is the third book in The Raj Quartet, and I found it the most complex so far. It does not pick up where the last one left off, but begins at a point in time even before the first book. More importantly, there’s a shift in perspective: we’re now in the life of Barbie Batchelor, a peripheral character in The Day of the Scorpion. The Quartet has been told from multiple perspectives from the very beginning, but Paul Scott’s mastery particularly shines through with Barbie. Usually when books hav ...more
This is the third instalment of Scott’s Raj Quartet. I must admit to a little confusion when I started the book. I was pretty sure I’d not read it, but the story seemed very familiar. At least, it sort of did. And when the narrative referred to something I remembered clearly from an earlier book in the quartet, but here it all happened off-stage, I realised that Scott was covering ground previously described but this time from different characters’ viewpoints. So, for example, when Sarah Layton ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
It's not far from the truth to say that I am entirely surrounded by water books. But over the last couple days, I've been feeling restless and enervated, reading-wise. I feel like I already knew all the books that I have, even the ones that I haven't read.

I started reading this one because I felt like since I knew nothing about the author, the genre, or the time period (the last days of English rule of India), I had no idea what to expect and could be surprised, or at least not-bored.

Was I not-
Very over-written and frenzied. My interest was sustained for about 200 pages, and then I gave up. Paul Scott is a writer of some talent for sure. He is perceptive and etches out characters well. But the whole thing just gets tiresome after a point. Scott tends to overload you with information where words seem to tumble on each other. It gets exhausting even with its merits.
I have not read Books 1 or 2 in the series. This one read well without having to wade through the previous books.

A strong book focusing on the impact of war on the wives, daughters and companions of the British Army at Pankot. Well developed characters and there is no doubt there was a lot of people full of their own importance who were willing to live in India to help maintain the Empire.

I was a bit mystified by the main character of Mrs Bachelor, who came to live in Pankot after her retirement
David Guy
I was ready to give this book only four stars, because it began slowly and seemed to go over a lot of material from the previous novels (I couldn't imagine that anyone would pick up this book without having read the others). And then, somewhat to my surprise, it seemed to go over much of the same material again, only from different viewpoints, including that of an aging spinster and missionary, also from the standpoint of Susan Layton, who is the most interesting character in the series. So this ...more
William Leight
"The Raj Quartet" is basically an updating of the kind of sprawling, society-describing epic 19th century writers were so fond of: the Palliser novels, say. The difference is that Scott, influenced by the modernist trends of the 20th century, is far less concerned about plot than the Thackerays and Trollopes were. When Trollope describes the state of English politics, he does it through the plot arcs of his characters, MPs, ministers, and PMs who rise on Reform and fall on the Irish question. By ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sundarraj Kaushik
A good read for people who love the Raj. Out and out a book about a small piece of life in the Raj.

The book is about a lady who has retired as the Superintendent of a school Ms. Barbara Batchelor and is on the lookout for a place to stay when she finds an advertisement for a Paying Guest with a widow in one of the cantonments. The book is set during the time the World War is fought.

She replies and gets a positive response saying she should come and try it out as a three week vacation and if they
This novel centers on Barbie Batchelor, the retired missionary played by Peggy Ashcroft in TV miniseries The Jewel in the Crown.
Again, the events in book 1 of the Raj Quartet are rehashed at length, as this time we have to follow along as Barbie learns about the attacks on Miss Crane and Daphne Manners, and ruminate on them.
And many of the newer events of book 2 (The Day of the Scorpion) are reiterated, this time from Barbie's POV.
It's probably only because of my fond memories of the miniserie
Jean Hontz
Continues the Raj Quartet depicting the end of the Raj and the end of WWII, as usual with Scott, events seen from multiple points of view allowing us to see how our prejudices and assumptions color our view of so many events we witness.
A wonderful read. If you are interested in India and its relationship with the British during World War II and if you are willing to read this book slowly to savor the beautiful writing and the tragedy, irony and biting humor then I highly recommend it. I have read the first 2 books of the Raj Quartet and also found them fascinating. Having seen the PBS mini-series "The Jewel in the Crown", based on these books, I have a picture in my mind of all of the characters and the general lay of the land ...more
I didn't like this as much as the previous one. I guess it's because the point of view was from someone who was a relatively minor character before. But I saw a beauty in the way Barbie Batchelor's inner voice - much louder than her actual voice - was shown to analyse situations around her, especially towards the end of the book. A sadness descends upon the reader after it is over - the events described are, for the most part, a repeat of the previous book, and the reader knows of most if not al ...more
Junemarie Brandt
While it's fascinating to see the same incidents through the viewpoints of different people, the language is sometimes dense and hard to slough through. But at other times the prose is incredibly beautiful and moving. This book does spend a little too much time delving into the troubled mind of Barbie Batchelor as she slips into madness, making it hard to determine what is "truth" as far as the story goes, and what are part of her delusions. Waiting to read the final book to see what loose ends ...more
Tariq Mahmood
Third in the series of the Raj Quartet. I found it very difficult to get into the story as most of the time I felt clueless. Time and time again I hoped that the various dialogues and scenarios would lead to something but was disappointed. Unlike the first two books, the Indian characters were not detailed in this part at all for some reason. Disappointing read.
Impossibly beautiful, tragic, urgent, moving, ecstatic, its frustrating bits of war reportage and historical minutiae included. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING on the British in India comes even close - hell, who cares about the British in India, this is about the human condition as a whole, and very little comes close there too. I could not read the closing pages, I could not bear to let this work end.
Sarah Harkness
Wonderful. Possibly the prose in the first few chapters could have benefitted from editing - some of the longest most complex sentences I've read outside a Henry James novel - but the power of the story and the character of Barbie, her epic battle with Mildred, just pull you through. I love this book!
Sonal Panse
Nice, but a bit plodding and over-written. I couldn't summon up the same level of interest as the author in Lady Manners (she might be an important character in the other book, but entirely irrelevant here).
It isn't as eventful as the first two in the series (essentially it goes over the events that have already taken place but from different points of view) but the characters are fascinating.
Mihaela Claudia
This was my second time reading this book. I was profoundly affected by it and admire it even more than before, although its excesses (not many, but there) jarred a bit this time around.
Great writing, fascinating picture of India just before independence from Britain and a good beginning source for learning about this rich, stimulating and ever-changing country.
Samantha Marshall
Excellent, but not my favorite in the Raj Quartet. This book address the same issues as in 2, but from a different individual's perspective.
Catherine Woodman
This is an impossibly long book about India during the time of colonial rule, that once I was through the four books I was so sorry to see end :-(
Wendy Roberts
Couldn't put this book hearkens back to the first book in the series a bit more...heart-breaking and intense.
Lori Baldi
The weakest of the series and yet you can not skip it to continue. It is a necessary link.
Joyce Lagow
The Raj Quartet, Volume 3: The Towers of Silence (Phoenix Fiction) by Paul Scott (1998)
Kashaf Asim
was re-reading it and stopped in mid-way. will continue it later.
Dora Okeyo
A deeply moving story- I will have to share this with my friends.
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The History Book ...: This topic has been closed to new comments. WEEK EIGHT - THE TOWERS OF SILENCE - February 2nd - February 8th > PART FOUR - THE HONOUR OF THE REGIMENT ~ Chapter One (pg. 237 - 245) - Chapter Two (pg, 245 - 254) - Chapter Three (pg. 254 - 261) No spoilers 3 17 10 hours, 40 min ago  
The History Book ...: * WEEK SEVEN - THE TOWERS OF SILENCE - January 26th - February 1st > - PART THREE - THE SILVER IN THE MESS - Chapter Four (pg. 193 - 236) No Spoilers 13 24 16 hours, 55 min ago  
The History Book ...: * WEEK SIX -WE ARE OPEN - THE TOWERS OF SILENCE - January 19th - January 25th > - PART THREE - THE SILVER IN THE MESS - Chapter One (pg. 159 - 168) - Chapter Two (pg. 168 - 178) - Chapter Three (pg.. 179 - 193) No Spoilers 25 24 Jan 24, 2015 06:57PM  
The History Book ...: This topic has been closed to new comments. WEEK NINE - THE TOWERS OF SILENCE ~ February 9th - February 15th>PART FOUR - THE HONOUR OF THE REGIMENT - Chapter Three (pg 262 - 274 - Chapter Four (pg. 275 - 286) - Chapter Five (pg 286 - 298) No Spoilers 1 4 Jan 24, 2015 04:04PM  
The History Book ...: * WE ARE OPEN - WEEK FOUR - THE TOWERS OF SILENCE - January 5th - January 11th > - PART ONE - THE UNKNOWN INDIAN - Chapter Two (pg. 101 - 111) - Chapter Three (pg. 111 - 130) No Spoilers 32 33 Jan 17, 2015 08:55AM  
The History Book ...: * WEEK THREE - WE ARE OPEN - THE TOWERS OF SILENCE - December 22nd - January 4th > - PART ONE - THE UNKNOWN INDIAN - Chapter Six (pg. 72 - 90 - PART TWO - A QUESTION OF LOYALTY - Chapter One (pg. 91 - 101) No Spoilers. 37 31 Jan 11, 2015 03:41PM  
The History Book ...: * WE ARE OPEN ~ WEEK TWO ~ THE TOWERS OF SILENCE - December 15th - 21st > ~ PART ONE ~ THE UNKNOWN INDIAN - Chapters 4 - 5 (pg. 38 - 72) No Spoilers 42 28 Dec 26, 2014 12:58PM  
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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 Jewel in the Crown (The Raj Quartet, #1)
  • The Day of the Scorpion (The Raj Quartet, #2)
  • A Division of the Spoils (The Raj Quartet, #4)
The Jewel in the Crown (The Raj Quartet, #1) Staying On The Day of the Scorpion (The Raj Quartet, #2) A Division of the Spoils (The Raj Quartet, #4) The Raj Quartet

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