Pub. Date:
University of Chicago Press
Jewel in the Crown (The Raj Quartet, Volume 1)

Jewel in the Crown (The Raj Quartet, Volume 1)

by Paul Scott
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Jewel in the Crown (The Raj Quartet, Volume 1) 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Cecrow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this novel for comparison with "A Passage to India," which I tackled earlier this year and thought was fantastic. The Wikipedia entry for "Jewel" described it as a rewriting of "Passage," but that's an exaggeration. True, the setting is India in the descending phase of the Raj's grandeur, and much of the plot centers around the assault of an English woman. But the differences are also significant. "Passage" was written in the 1920s when eventual Indian independence was expected but had not yet arrived. "Jewel" covers the 1940s period as that independence moved at last towards realization, and with a 1960s knowledge of the outcome.The writing often feels laboured, and in many places I was buried in descriptive passages and detail that slowed me to a crawl. I worried it might all be like this, but other reviews led me to anticipate the variety in approach that relieves the story: standard 3rd person telling, followed by a mysterious male character's viewpoint as he investigates and looks back on events from several years later; and then also the letters that are exchanged between characters which make up a significant portion. The author takes just about the longest route imaginable to tell the story of what's essentially one simple event, but at least some of the interim is spent on adding new revelations to previously visited scenes, creating small "aha" moments. The rest of the time, you are learning enormous amounts about the setting and situation.There's a peculiar aspect of this novel that could be considered either its greatest strength or its weakness: its very direct analysis of English-Indian relations. "Passage" is the more literate work, building on delicate metaphor and what's to be read between the lines. "Jewel" by contrast offers a very matter-of-fact study. I was sometimes wondering if Scott should have tried his hand at a non-fiction piece instead. The points being made are still intriguing of course. For example there's the straight line drawn between the alien feeling a British person would encounter on arrival in India and the effect of the escape he or she turned to: the clubs, the facilities, etc that catered to the British as priority citizens and began to rub off on them. New arrivals shortly began finding themselves looking down upon Indians, however open-minded they were prepared to be. On reflection, "Passage" demonstrated this in action through its showing technique. "Jewel" simply tells you."Jewel" lacks the lyricism and immortality of "Passage", but it makes for fine supplementary reading and comes with the bonus of sequels. I still enjoyed it and I'll recommend it, but with the caution that it's a needlessly sticky read in one respect while being blatantly clear in another. I'll also suggest reading "A Passage to India" first for the chronology, and for being the better novel of the two.
wagner.sarah35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to say, this is an excellent novel, presenting the varying aspects of life in India in the last years of British rule. Paul Scott captures many of the attitudes and struggles of both the British and Indians in those years. However, it took a long time for me to get into this novel. Not until nearly the very end did I feel truly interested in the story. This is partially due to the way the story is presented, switching narrators and a nonlinear timeline. All in all, I was glad I made it to the end of this novel, since it was definitely worth it, but I still wish the story had been written in a different manner.
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