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The Jewel In The Crown (The Raj Quartet) Paperback – 29 Jan 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (29 Jan 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099439964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099439967
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A major work, a glittering combination of brilliant craftsmanship, psychological perception and objective reporting... Rarely have the sounds and smells and total atmosphere been so evocatively suggested" (New York Times)

"Absorbing and brilliant... A triumph" (Evening Standard)

"One of the most important landmarks of post-war fiction... A mighty literary experience" (The Times)

"Quite simply, monumental" (Washington Post)

Book Description

The opening title of Paul Scott's masterpiece, The Raj Quartet, dramatised by Radio 4

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A. W. Macfarlane on 18 Mar 2005
Format: Paperback
What a marvellous work! My copy has the words, "Dazzling" (Guardian), on the front cover, and on the back cover it is lauded by The Times and the New York Times; it would be impertinent to offer any other opinion. I did not watch the BBC dramatisation, and having now read the novel I cannot conceive how a television adaptation could convey more than a tiny part of its myriad strands. The central story is quite slight, but it is a metaphor for the larger picture, and what grips are the context and the backgrounds. The context, of course, is the burgeoning national consciousness that will lead to the independence of India; but along with that there is the slipping through the imperial fingers of the jewel itself, and the inevitability of the decline of all that was British, all that was Empire. Against this huge backdrop, with all its ramifications for global politics, is played out the drama of Daphne Manners and her rape. The balance is perfect: the subjugation and exploitation of a vast, impoverished country by a small, rich European one - and by the British Empire in all its self-deluding glory - versus the violation of one young Englishwoman by natives of that very country. The story itself is told from several perspectives - Edwina Crane, Lily Chatterjee, Brigadier Reid - each fleshed out in intricate, touching and perceptive detail. There are glorious descriptive touches, too: the magnificent description of the Macgregor House early on, for example. Read it like you would drink a premier cru: slowly, savouring the flavour, relaxing and wondering at the skill that has gone into making it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. Diment VINE VOICE on 18 April 2008
Format: Paperback
The first book in the "Raj" quartet, it is set in India during the second world war, at a time when Britain's colony was stirring itself towards independence. Persevere if you find this book slow at first, because you may find you will ultimately be drawn in by the sheer poetry of the writing. Like many classic novels, this is a book to savour, not one to be rushed. The contrast, the smells, colours, textures and tastes of India are all there, not just the visual appearance. It's like reading a piece of history, although it's characters are fictional, as it provides an insight into the issues and attitudes of the people of the time.

The central story concerns Daphne Manners, a young British woman raped during riots in the first stirrings towards Indian independence. She's in love with a young Indian, Hari Kumar, who was educated in Britain. He is one of a number of men falsely accused of her rape. The prejudice and the accepted etiquette of the time mean their romance is doomed to failure from the beginning, and their story is a microcosm of the larger picture of India that Scott uses as a backdrop, for Britain's colonial rule of India is also doomed. The story is split into parts, with each part told from the point of view of one of the characters involved. It builds slowly to the story of what actually happened that night. The style of telling, and the power with which the characters are drawn means it feels like non-fiction, and it's almost impossible to believe that these people didn't ever exist. It's not always the easiest or happiest book to read, but it's sheer emotional power makes it difficult to put down. By the end you are so involved you are all set to read the rest of the quartet.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T. Ryder on 11 Dec 2009
Format: Paperback
The whole of the Raj Quartet is excellent, but Jewel is the very best of the four. It focuses on India and its tensions in the years leading up to partition, but is so much more than 'just' a book about the end of the Raj - the analyses of the characters are so insightful that they're timeless. Paul Scott had an incredible gift for writing three-dimensional characters; he gives them time to develop rather than rushing them through the story. As a result, you engage with them to such an extent that it almost becomes hard to believe that they are fictional. And in Hari Kumar, Jewel must surely have one of the most fascinating and tragic characters ever written...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Oct 1999
Format: Paperback
"The Jewel in the Crown" combines an almost impossibly deep understanding of India and her colonial rulers with fictional characters of such colour and complexity that it beggars belief they are not and have never been flesh. The decline of British rule and the rise of Indian nationalism forms the background for a novel of astonishing depth and imagination. I cannot wait to read the rest of the books in the series.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Mar 2002
Format: Paperback
The Jewel in the Crown is a novel that combines a story of romantic love, a heinous crime and its consequences, and a detailed account of the social and political aspects of life in Colonial India, at a time when British rule was nearing collapse. It also presents the reader with several ironical situations which, if they accomplish nothing in their own right, serve to heighten one's understanding of the hopelessness of any form of reconciliation between the Britons and Indians that could erase more than a century of colonial oppression and native resistance. However, behind all of this, and also in front of it, one basic theme dominates the scene: As Mr. Scott writes in Part Five, the section devoted to 'Young Kumar', 'In India an Indian and an Englishman could never meet on the same terms.' This inescapable fact is what dooms the relationship between Daphne Manners, an English girl living in Mayapore, India, and Hari Kumar, an Indian who was brought up in England. It is Miss Crane's failure to recognise this unequivocal rule that leads to her undoing. It is possible that Paul Scott's main goal in publishing The Jewel in the Crown was to prove that by 1942, after a long history of racism, colonial oppression, and violent native uprisings, the British had no choice but to 'Quit India.' The time when the turbulent events of Great Britain and India's common history could still have been resolved had long since passed. The story was closed; the outcome inevitable. Daphne and Hari's failed attempt to break the old social barrier pushes the reader's hope of British-Indian reconciliation to the ground, and the terrible and ironic fate of the two lovers, and of Miss Crane, all champions of tolerance and understanding among the English and Indian populations living in India, drives that hope into the dust.
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