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A Black Englishman

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  323 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
India, 1920: exotic, glamorous, and violent, as the country begins to resist England's colonial grip. In the midst of this turmoil, Isabel, a young British military wife, begins a passionate liaison with Sam, an Indian doctor and Oxford graduate who insists, against all odds, on the right to be both black and British. Their secret devotion to each other takes them across I ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published November 15th 2005 by Picador (first published November 24th 2004)
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Julia Grundling
Sep 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
oh, how i absolutely loved this book. i felt emotionally drained when i finished it this morning.

initially i thought it was maybe going to be too much of a love story, as i don't enjoy the typical love story. something made me want to continue reading ... the author writes so beautifully. i personally don't enjoy paragraphs that are too long - words filling up the whole page without much dialogue and breaks. i tend to skip over a few words or sentences if this happens, but with this book i want
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the story overall, even tho it's not my usual sort of read. Lots of history of India and the customs of the raj during the ealry 1920's. The author has a way of making the scene very real and you can almost feel the humidity! I found the writing to be a bit of-putting. Embedded conversation made it difficult to read, and a few more paragraphs would have helped - but that is my opinion! Other members of my book club loved the writing style.
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 10_dubbioso
Pretenzioso e furbo, ma senza slancio. Narra una passione ma senza passione nella scrittura.
Isabel, dopo una traumatica (ed appena accennata) storia con Gareth (che poveretto ci rimette salute mentale e fisica nella Grande Guerra) accetta (abbastanza sconsideratamente) di sposare Neville, pur di lasciare l'Inghilterra.
Ahimè, Neville è quella bestia che la mamma italo-gallese di I. aveva predetto, e la vita della moglie di un sergente in India è una gran noia. Per fortuna, I. non fa in tempo ad
Sooraj Subramaniam
It wasn't love at first sight - the detail of the first few pages meandered through a dreary path: too much richness felt as though nothing truly important or interesting was happening. The slow start, however, merely sets the tone for a compelling read ahead. Seemingly unbelievably stilted characters give way to candid obliqueness and honesty - I found resonance with this complexity.

The narrative is simply written and easy to follow. The metaphors, while intricate, were a little to the right of
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The descriptions of India during the fall of the British Empire are fascinating, with enough historical detail to be informative but without taking away from the core story. At times the novel feels a bit disjointed, skipping over months and moving hundreds of miles across the subcontinent, but its other strengths outweigh this weakness. The complicated feelings the main characters have about race and identity were explored thoroughly without being resolved or exp ...more
Dec 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A classic story of forbidden love, a wealthy englishwoman in India despises her brutish military husband and falls for a refined Oxford educated Indian doctor in the early part of the twentieth century. The novel provoked very vivid images of life and attitudes in that time. Very moving images portrayed of attitudes toward minorities (including women) in that time. The landscape is lush and contstantly changing. The trials that the lovers face are of course overcome at the end. An emotional read ...more
Cats 274
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many things are being taken for granted if you're white and born in Europe. A Black Englishman makes one think hard about so many of the amenities that we have. It is a novel, but a demanding one, of a kind that puts questions in front of a reader and then answers with giving more questions.

And although the typeface used to print my book is ridiculously small, I'm really glad I made an effort and pushed past first few pages.
Dec 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is a wonderful story about the strengthening of a strong woman. I have a thing for books based in India, and this was another really good read. The story of a free-spirited woman caught in the violent web of her vengeful husband, and breaking a lot of social mores to conduct an affair with a black Indian educated in England, and set in the 1930's, this was a really good read.
Feb 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
I gave up on it. IMO, the summary is false advertising (or good marketing). I found the writing very average, the story a bit anemic, and Isabel annoying. Even the dramatic events in this novel are not delivered in a way that elicits an emotional response from the reader. Overall, a bit of a yawn, when I have more interesting reads waiting on my shelf. Not worth my time.
May 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever read. I love the lovers who transcend love and create this amazing tapestry of emotion and hope that really drew me into their lives and inspired me.
Jul 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Not the strongest plotting, not the best writing style, but the places and characters come alive. Also, touches on several interesting issues and historical moments—the inspiration from the author's grandmother's unhappy ending to create this piece of historical fiction is particularly fascinating.
Ron Ice
Aug 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Hopeless romantics
The stupidity of racism
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the most romantic and passionate book that I've read in a while. A bit over the top sometimes, but I suppose it fits the period. Post WWI is remembered as a time of grand expressions. Bernice bobbing her hair and dancing the Charleston. Jazz trumpets blaring as people roared through the '20s, trying to drown out their recollections and reflections on the Great War, all those lost and the senselessness of it all. An entire generation battling against grief and nihilism with money and booz ...more
Rita Monticelli
Scroll down for the English version

Un quasi impossibile incontro tra culture

Questo libro viene descritto in maniera un po’ fuorviante ed è stato solo dopo aver letto altre recensioni che ho deciso di leggerlo. Non si tratta affatto del solito romanzo rosa, e non è affatto caratterizzato da un’impronta erotica in senso stretto (nelle scene mostrate i protagonisti non fanno che parlare!), è bensì una storia di incontro tra due culture estremamente diverse ambientata oltre novant’anni fa, con tutte
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think I am officially done with books about India and the Raj by white people.

Full disclosure: I am trying to whittle down some of the insane book stacks in my house and I don't know how long this book has been there. And the introductory note about how the book was based on the author's grandparent who was institutionalized both in India and in England after Independence hooked me. But it's such an icky mix of exoticism and wish fulfillment, not to mention the fact that the narrator seemed
Michelle Emmae
pensavo meglio, bella la descrizione dell'India, ma ho faticato a leggerlo fino alla fine
Valentina Morgana la fata
Direi che gli do tre stelle anche se sono abbastanza indecisa.
Questo libro è stato molto controverso, la trama di per se era molto bella e le descrizioni dell'India ti facevano trattenere il fiato e venire le lacrime agli occhi per tanta bellezza, quasi che l'amore dell'autrice per quel paese si fosse trasmesso al lettore attraverso quelle parole.
Però si c'è il però: la totale mancanza di dialoghi e di punteggiatura che indicasse quando i personaggi parlavano l'uno con l'altra mi ha totalme
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Set in India in the 1920's, this story is a combination of adventure and romance. Isabel lost her love in the first world war. She decided to gamble on adventure and not on love, so she married an Army guy whom she barely knew because he was stationed in India. Her father had lived in India as a child, and she needed something new in life. Immediately upon her arrival she is struck by how rigid the English Army society is. The list of things she could not do as a woman has multiplied astronomica ...more
Mar 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book didn’t make an instant fan out of me – I thought the storyline was a bit weak but Slaughter filled in the gaps and kept me intrigued with her exquisite skill in description. She painted such a vivid, colorful image of the characters, wardrobes, and settings that I eventually came to realize the details were as much a character in the story as any of the human characters, perhaps even more so. I came to like the characters and even love one of them. I may not have been captivated right ...more
Julie Rand
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book!!!! I loved the way Slaughter described India in the 1920s; and her take on a period of turmoil as the English empire came to an end in India is fascinating. The romance between Isabel, an Englishwoman, and Sam, an Indian doctor educated in England brings out many of the issues of the day involving colonialism, racism, sexism, and political change. It's a great story and her writing is superb. It would make a great book club selection with lots of themes to discuss. I will ...more
Lisa Rich
Jan 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Marguerite Richards
A love story about a Welsh girl who marries a British soldier and goes to live in India in the final days of British rule. After the failure of her marriage she falls in love with an Indian doctor who has been educated in England and the book is about the difficulties they face as a white and one black in India . Beautifully written and interesting in what it says about women and how they were treated in India at that time.
Pamela Pickering
Feb 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting story about gender roles and rights, politics, and cultural clashes in colonial India around WWI. An English woman married to an English soldier (it was the thing to do) moves to India and finds her great romance. Her great romance is with both an Indian man and India itself. Very entertaining and well written. My only complaint would be that it is one of those publications that does not use quotation marks but I did not notice it as much in this story as I have others.
Miriam Wakerly
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this book again to coincide with a holiday in India. I am so glad I did - as enjoyed the descriptions and how it looks at the issue of confused identities. The holiday helped to bring the book to life. The characters can be a little irritating but they are of their time, and how people behaved and spoke may seem unthinkable now but are probably a true reflection of the then prevailing attitudes and social norms.
Jacqui Gordon
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
I lost interest part-way through the book. The writing style began to jar and the story was not believable. I did however, find the descriptions of India compelling and the historical and social details interesting. This led me to read beyond the point at which I had lost interest in the main characters.
Mar 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This took me a while to get into but I really enjoyed this story of Isabel who marries and goes to India after WW1. Nothing is the same after she meets Sam the Indian doctor. It is full of the history of India at that time before independence which makes it really interesting. One gripe; why would a good editor let through the word 'chuffed'the mouth of an Edwardian character. How picky am I :)
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in India or in stories set in other countries
The author reimagined the tragic life of her own grandmother, who lived in India as an independent-minded young woman and fell in love with a British-educated Indian doctor. Full of gender and racial politics, and the dark strife during the time of the Raj in India, it was a satisfying, adventurous story of star-crossed lovers.
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure if I would like this, but after the first two chapters I was hooked - you really get to love the main characters and feel like you are in India! There are a couple of violent descriptions but I think at the time, those things would have happened. Here's to strong heroines in the 1920s :-)
Mar 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If there were 3 1/2 stars I would have given it that rating. I found myself remembering studying India in Social Studies in Grade 6. I had forgotten about Ghandi and the religious unrest at during that time period. I was happy to learn what I learned :) I would never have chosen this book myself and I am glad I picked it up and finished it.
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
I picked this up because someone raved about it somewhere. Enjoyed some of the detailed descriptions of the cities, towns, provinces, countrysides, and the few historical components, but didn't buy the story at all. Makes me want to read an actual history of the British Empire in India though, which I haven't done since college and, well, that was a long time ago!
Dec 07, 2016 rated it liked it
JOSEPH is my homeboy. Best character ever.

Everyone else was ok.

Good, fantastical, improbable, heartaching... I rooted for Isabel even as I wanted to give her a shake.

The POV was hard to get used to though.
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