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The Jewel in the Crown

(The Raj Quartet #1)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  4,859 ratings  ·  351 reviews

India 1942: everything is in flux. World War II has shown that the British are not invincible and the self-rule lobby is gaining many supporters. Against this background, Daphne Manners, a young English girl, is brutally raped in the Bibighat Gardens. The racism, brutality and hatred launched upon the head of her young Indian lover echo the dread
Paperback, 528 pages
Published April 7th 2005 by Arrow (first published 1966)
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Jean I had the same question, and decided it was likely the later character...can't I just name him?...from the later books. I'd like to think it was, but…moreI had the same question, and decided it was likely the later character...can't I just name him?...from the later books. I'd like to think it was, but I'd like to think he/she somehow connected back with Hari Kumar. By today's standards...a facebook/google click or two seems likely, but maybe not then, and under the circumstance(less)
Don Phillipson This novel is told (at huge length) by multiple narrators, as if retrospectively years later. They include army Brigadier Reid and Indian political…moreThis novel is told (at huge length) by multiple narrators, as if retrospectively years later. They include army Brigadier Reid and Indian political officer White, who represent the two main (contrasting) British attitudes towards India and the prospect of Indian independence (promised by law in 1935, but with no fixed date.) The events narrated indicate very specifically the suppression of Indian nationalists (and torture, by a sadistic policeman) of a native Indian. Later volumes also concern the INA (Indian prisoners of war who volunteered to fight for Japan) as well as "communal" rivalry between Muslims and Hindus.(less)

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Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Paul Bryant
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
"Imagine, then, a flat landscape, dark for the moment, but even so conveying to a girl running in the still deeper shadows cast by the wall of the Bibighar Gardens an idea of immensity, of distance, such as years before Miss Crane had been conscious of standing where a lane ended and cultivation began: a different landscape but also in the alluvial plain between the mountains of the north and the plateau of the south."

The first in Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet, The Jewel in the Crown is a remarkable
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
Bionic Jean
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
Dec 13, 2013 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 rio
Diane Barnes
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly excellent historical novels capture the history of a time and place through human interactions. History is made by human beings going about their business, with all their failings, prejudices and strivings. This novel is one of the better ones I've ever read in helping to understand India under British rule, The Raj. It not only tells us what, but how, and even more importantly, why. This is the first book of a quartet, and I have no doubt that when I finish the fourth one, I can claim it ...more
Roger Brunyate
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
Jul 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Scott’s Jewel in the Crown is an expansive work that tackles every difficult issue that could be imagined for British ruled India. It takes place during the 1940’s, with World War II being fought and ravaging the English homeland, India being used as a buffer between the British forces and Japan, and the painful transition to self-government that can no longer be pushed off by the British rulers. Into this powder keg are dropped an English girl, Daphne Manners, who has been raised by a libe ...more
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
Jan 07, 2017 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
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
Roman Clodia
May 26, 2017 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
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Catherine  Mustread
Apr 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Daphne Manners arrives in Mayapore and meets two men who are to change her life: Hari Kumar and Ronald Merrick.

The last days of the British Raj in India as the Second World War leads inevitably towards independence.

Paul Scott's classic series of novels dramatised by John Harvey.

Daphne Manners - Anna Maxwell Martin
Ronald Merrick - Mark Bazeley
Hari Kumar - Prasanna Puwanarajah
Lily Chatterji - Josephine Welcome
Sister Ludmilla - Susan Engel
Dr De Souza - Kulvinder Ghir
Miss Ed
End of Empire...

It’s 1942 and tensions are running high in India. Britain, with its usual high-handedness, has decided that Indian troops will join the war effort without consulting the Indian leaders. Gandhi is demanding that the British quit India, even though that will probably mean that the Japanese move in. When the British arrest the leaders of the Independence movement, for a few short days the peace of Mayapore is broken as rioters take to the streets. And in that time one British woman
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unjustly-obscure
Under-appreciated, this is a masterful look at the complications (sexual and otherwise) of colonialism. Just read the first paragraph, and you know you're in the hands of a master stylist.
a stephanie
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-expanding, gorgeous, devastating, and provocative look at a number of exemplary British and Indian specimens living on the edge between brown and white in 1942 in rural India.

Mr. Scott starts Jewel with the story of a sexless, agnostic, Gandh
Michael Greenwell
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Megan Baxter
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Years ago (more years than I care to own up to), I tried reading this. I had seen part of the excellent tv series, so of course. And I didn't like it. But a few weeks ago, I had to read this book. Not sure why, but I'm glad I did.

I think the first time I read it the style threw me off, and I wanted Daphne from the first and got Miss Crane.

Or I could have been tried. Whatever.

Scott's novel opens in India during WWII. It is the start of defall of the Raj, and the stir of nationalism that leads to
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
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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.

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)
“English is not spare. But it is beautiful. It cannot be called truthful because its subtleties are infinite. It 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 statements which appear to mean one thing one year and quite a different thing the next.” 9 likes
“Rumours began with the whispered gossip of native servants and spread quickly to the rest of the population.” 5 likes
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