Skip to main content

Review: The Far Pavilions, by MM Kaye


Where do I begin with The Far Pavilions? It’s an epic love story with a complicated, suspenseful plot, and any review I might write wouldn’t do it justice. But I’ll try.

Ashton Pelham-Martyn is born in India in 1852, the son of a famed British scholar. When his father dies, Ash is entrusted into the care of his maternal uncle. However, the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 changes the course of his life, and Ash goes into hiding with his foster mother, Sita. Later, Ash becomes a servant in the royal court at Karidkote, under the crown prince. While there, Ash meets Juli, and his life changes once again.

MM Kaye was born in India and lived there for a significant part of her life, and it’s clear from this novel that India left an indelible, positive mark on her. India in the time of the British Raj fairly oozes from all 955 pages of this epic novel about love that transcends culture, caste, religion, and other factors. Kaye does a fantastic job of describing the differences between each of the Indian city-states, and then contrasting them with the oh-so-different British, who don’t quite understand (or even try to) the ways of the natives.

There are lots of long, descriptive passages in the novel, which sometimes slows the novel down; but at other times, those passages would heighten the suspense factor for me. My other criticism is that the part of the book that takes place in Afghanistan seemed to detract from a nearly perfect storyline. But this was the kind of book that I had to read in small chunks because of how emotionally draining it was. And also, because I didn’t want it to end.

Comments

Amanda said…
Oh thanks for this review! It looks so good. I'll definitely have to read it now.
Teddy Rose said…
I really liked this book too. I read it a few years ago with my Classics book club. We read it over an entire summer and read and discussed it in chunks. I think that really added to what I got out of it.
Nicole said…
Emotionally draining, yet you didn't want it to end. That is quite a combination! It sounds interesting. I read the God of Small Things and I got a little bit of the complexity of India from reading that. I would love to develop a deeper understanding.
Dar said…
This sounds really good-great review. Another one for the wish list.
valentina said…
oh my god I read this book when I was 13 or 14 and I loved it! it was the first time that I read about how wives in india had to die on the pyre too if their husband died!i was shocked.
But I do remember skipping few pages of boring descriptions of fighting towards the end!
Serena said…
sounds like an interesting book despite the trouble you had with it.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…