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Bhowani Junction (Story-Tellers) Paperback – 24 May 2001

26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Souvenir Press Ltd; New Ed edition (24 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0285636049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0285636040
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 2.7 x 12.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 391,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

He organizes and controls the swift-moving, exciting narrative with the unobtrusive brilliance of a first-class military strategist. --Observer

Mr Masters s descriptions of the Indian scene are as highly coloured as ever and his narrative as exciting and dashing. --Evening Standard

Simply as gripping exotic tales, his books read splendidly still… but they deserve to be read also as a revelation to the young and a reminder to the old of a vanished world. --The Tablet

About the Author

John Masters was a general in the British Army and served on the North-West frontier.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Essex Girl on 11 May 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On the face of it, this is a ripping yarn, based around the efforts of the British at the end of the Raj to both recapture an escaped terrorist and keep a lid on the simmering unrest in the fictional railway town of Bhowani.

It is, however, much more than that: it is, in several ways, a remarkable book. Firstly, Masters writes it in three distinct voices: those of Victoria ('a chee-chee engine driver's daughter'), Rodney (a British officer) and Patrick, a railway administrator. Without in any way mangling English grammar or English spelling, Masters has ensured that when Patrick speaks the Eurasian accent is right in your ear: he has its rhythm absolutely nailed. Secondly, it subverts the whole ripping yarn genre. I don't want to say too much here, as that would spoil the story, but it doesn't end quite as you would expect it to and all along the way there are characters who are just not as they first appear: the most senior local civil servant is, it transpires, probably from the lowest of the Hindu castes; Rodney, very British and very correct and very arrogant, is quite disenchanted with the other Europeans and goes drinking in the Railway Institute where the Eurasians hang out. It's hard for us to picture now just how radical this was sixty-odd years ago in the dog days of the Empire, when Asians and Eurasians were not permitted membership of the exclusive clubs and European men who married Asian or mixed-race women could lose their jobs as a consequence.

Thirdly, and most remarkably, this novel is in a large part told from the viewpoint of the Anglo-Indian - the mixed race - community, and as a group, they are examined with a sympathy and compassion they do not, in literature, normally receive.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Vicarious on 1 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
In no other book I know does the sheer arousal a woman's physical presence can evoke seem so real to the reader and so potent a force in men's motives. As two men from different communities compete for her affections, both of them at times selfishly & selflessly, it appears almost as if the Anglo-Indian heroine's sexual aura plays a larger part in this small scene in India's struggle for independence than politics could ever have done. The political outcome of the story is (from Masters' viewpoint of an ex British army officer, but perhaps not according to modern PC Standards) satisfactory, but the personal conclusions leave one aching for a world in which people are in control of their own destinies. The writing is clearly 1950's but none the worse for that - who can name three modern authors with the ability to get inside a character and inside your head using simple words & pleasingly correct grammar?
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 24 April 2005
Format: Paperback
John Masters is a forgotten author in many ways, which is a real shame as his writing is wonderful. He was a career army officer and many of his novels use his experiences of army life as a basis. He has a fantastic appreciation and understanding of the difficulties of life for locals and those serving in the army. His books are primarily based around army life and even if you are not a military fan, don't let this put you off. A number of novels have India as the location from the time just before the mutiny until after independence. They are brilliantly written and follow the trials and tribulations of an army family whose name is Savage. They are fiction based on fact and are very exciting reading.
I first came across John Masters when in my teens - some thirty+ years ago, I was completely enthralled. Sadly, many of his books are no longer in print, which is a real shame. Those still in print are primarily classed as military and recall his personal experiences of army life. But novels such as Nightrunners of Bengal, Bhowani Junction and The Deceivers, are fiction using actual events as a basis and I can highly recommend them - if you can manage to find them!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Woolgatherer on 29 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover
There are good things about this book. It gives a feel for what India must have been like in 1946, it has protagonists from the British, the Indians and the so-called Anglo-Indians, and they are all dealt with reasonably sympathetically (except Communists, but the book was published in 1954 so that may be understandable). Masters is strongest when he focuses on the things he is familiar with, the working of the railway and the deployment of the Thirteenth Ghurkha Rifles.

Where Masters is less sure-footed is in his characterisations, particularly of Victoria Jones. She swings from Anglo-Indian to Indian, and back, from Patrick Taylor to Colonel Savage (via Ranjit Singh) and kills Macaulay, and all without much inner turmoil.

My problem with the novel is that it tries to be a social commentary, thriller and romance, and doesn't really succeed at being any one of these. Unfortunately this means that the characters are asked to fulfil too many roles (mouthpieces for their group, action heroes and angst ridden lovers), and consequently are reduced to little more than ciphers. I think that is why, ultimately, I found this book disappointing - it deals with important issues (the withdrawal of the British from India, and more particularly the affect on communities that have identified with a colonial power when that power pulls out) and has a strong feel for time and place, but to me the characters' responses to what was happening around and to them just weren't believable. All in all, a reasonable read, just don't expect too much.
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