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Posted August 23, 2014
Many years after reading The Jewel in the Crown, and watching the excellent television series, I finally delved into the remaining three volumes of the Raj Quartet. All the principal characters from "Jewel" reappear, although told from various perspectives as they were experienced by other protagonists. Daphne Manners and her Indian lover Hari Kumar are still the thread weaving the narrative together. Their tragic last moments in the Bibighar Garden on the night when revolution erupted across the country, become a shadow play behind the screen of Indian history and world war.
The Jewel in the Crown is a challenging read, as Paul Scott strove to lay out the complex relations between the British, Gandhi's faction, the Indian Congress party, hundreds of major and minor princes and maharajas, hindus, muslims and the millions of ordinary Indians. All the while, the main characters struggle through their lives and relationships.
The Day of the Scorpion is much shorter, and maintains a much better balance between history, cultural clashes, and individual human experience. "Scorpion" also expands the telling of the central story of love and tragedy, while retaining a captivating mixture of suspense and surprise.
If you enjoyed "Jewel" The Day of the Scorpion is a definite second course -- drawing you on toward the third and fourth volumes of the series.
Posted May 17, 2010
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