Lisa (Harmonybites)'s Reviews > The Far Pavilions

The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye
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May 02, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, romance, ultimate-reading-list, fiction, novels, popular-fiction
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Gerri, The Idiot's Guid to the Ultimate Reading List
Recommended for: Everyone
Read from April 29 to May 01, 2011 , read count: 1

You know that kind of novel where you turn to page one, and hours later blink and look down to find hundreds of pages went by? This is that kind of novel. Kaye was born, raised, and spent her early married life in India, and she and her husband came from a long line of British officers that served the British Raj. In fact, given the dedication, Walter Hamilton, a character in the novel, was related to her husband. So she certainly has the credentials to bring the India of the Raj to life, nor is the novel blind to it's uglier aspects.

And the pageantry of multi-ethnic, multi-religion India she presents is fascinating, with the kind of rich details that inspires a reader to read more about the land after the novel's end. She centers her tale around Ashton Hilary Akbar Pelhman-Martyn. A boy orphaned by the Sepoy Mutiny of 1856, he's raised as a Hindu and when he's returned to England can't really adjust, finding he's a man torn between the cultures. There's also romance and adventure to be had--it's a terrific yarn and quite suspenseful in parts.

At first the last 250 pages centered on Afghanistan seemed an anti-climatic digression, but I ultimately felt it effectively tied together the novel's themes of tolerance and acceptance, as well as holding its own fascination for showing how Western powers came to grief over a hundred years ago in a "fanatically independent" land.

I wouldn't call this a "literary" book that impresses because of style. The omniscient point of view is skillfully done (the book saidism dialogue tagging noticeably not), but like Forever Amber or Shogun it sweeps you away to another place and time.
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