Laura Leaney's Reviews > The Jewel in the Crown

The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott
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's review
Jul 06, 2012

it was amazing
Recommended to Laura by: nandakishore Varma
Read from May 29 to July 06, 2012

** spoiler alert ** I'm not able to review this novel properly; it's too extraordinarily complex, and I can't do it justice. I can only be brief.

The central conflict of the book arises from the love affair between Daphne Manners, a young English girl, somewhat lumbering and plain, and Hari Kumar, and Indian boy educated in England. Both live in India during the last gasping days of the Raj - and both seem (at least in my mind) out of place in their respective social spheres. They make love in the Bibighar Gardens, "a walled enclosure of trees and undergrowth, with pathways and sudden open spaces" that children believe to be haunted. But the country is seized with civil unrest - and the post-coital pair are seen. Hari is tied up and beaten. Daphne is raped repeatedly by "black shapes in white cotton clothing; stinking, ragged clothing."

After two paragraphs of lovely prose, the narrative begins with: "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."

With this crime, Paul Scott is able to articulate the subtle nuances of two rich intertwined cultures, so apparently disparate. The point of view slips effortlessly between third person and first person narratives. Some of the narratives are told by deposition, some by letter or journal. Patience is necessary for the reader, and Paul Scott does just the right thing; he takes his time - letting his characters have their say. And they are long talkers. I don't recommend this book for the kind of reader who is looking for immediate action.

The book is a masterful account of a time, 1942, and a place, India, and it's racist colonizer, England.
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Reading Progress

05/31/2012 page 52
11.0% "This book really takes me back to the early 20th century British writers of my youth. M.M.Kaye, Mary Stewart; I'm already hooked."
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Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-10 of 10) </span> <span class="smallText">(10 new)</span>

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Nandakishore Varma Nice to see that you finally got around to this book. How are you finding it?

Laura Leaney It's interesting how the point of view slides around so effortlessly. It was a bit of a plow at first, but the wonderfully subtle nuances of social class and bigotry are well done. It's very much of an intellectual soap opera at the moment.

Nandakishore Varma I hope you are still liking it...

Laura Leaney I definitely like it. "Admire" is probably a better word for my reaction.

Nandakishore Varma I am eagerly awaiting for your review of this one, so that we can discuss the many layers of this story. What I admire most about Scott is the way he develops his characters from novel to novel... the quartet becomes a single entity, even when each novel is standalone.

Nandakishore Varma I am so glad you loved this!

Laura Leaney It was a beautiful book; thanks for the recommendation!

Nandakishore Varma Now go and finish the quartet!

message 9: by John (new)

John Arfwedson Terrific review. I always like the way your penetrating concision catches the essence & flavor of a book (including evocatively ideal quotes!).

Laura Leaney Thanks, John!

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