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on 1 July 2010
What I really loved about the book was the touching but robust relationship between the author and Phoolan Devi. Moxham's account of their close friendship creates a vivid sense of both protagonists, and manages to engage the reader's sympathy with this extraordinary woman.
He skillfully combines an account of her almost mythical life (low caste poverty, rape victim, political prisoner, bandit, politician)with a witty and thoughtful diary of his own relationship with India. In fact,it is as much about his love affair with India and his travels and explorations, as it is about his tender and often amusing relationship with the charismatic Devi.
Moxham paints a memorable portrait of all the key figures, including the sisters, cousins and neighbours from Phoolan Devi's rural village background, contrasting with the politicians, policemen and hangers on that surrounded Devi during her brief time in the political limelight.
From the moment he sent a letter to this abused, illiterate, feisty activist to the final compelling scenes in a Delhi court room, I was utterly hooked by the story and the storyteller. It is a story riven with a growing sense of almost inevitable tragedy, but told with gusto and humour.A window on another world,and utterly compelling.
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on 28 July 2010
Who of us drones hasn't from time to time imagined ourselves doing something strikingly out of character, only for the fantasy to be quashed by timid rationalizing? Roy Moxham, on the other hand, responded to what he supposes to be a streak of romanticism by dropping a line to a notorious bandit imprisoned several thousand miles away. Despite his puzzlement that he could have behaved so quixotically, Moxham sketches in just enough autobiographical detail for us to infer that perhaps the impulsive nature of his action wasn't totally uncharacteristic.

The story he tells is, by any standards, an extraordinary one, as he goes with the flow of his fateful decision and finds himself becoming more and more involved with Phoolan Devi. By initiating the contact, even if impulsively, he must have realized he had imposed on himself a duty to follow through, to a greater or lesser extent, and to his great credit he betrays little sign of ever having seriously considered walking away from the commitment he has made to her. He is clear-eyed about the rich potential for his motives, in so far as he fully understands them himself, to be misinterpreted but we never doubt his sincerity as, for instance, we suffer with him the awkwardness of being asked by Phoolan - most surprisingly, given cultural norms - to put his arm round her for a photograph. (I had looked at the book's photos, of which this is one, before reading this passage and had somehow intuited this.)

There are several factors which make this book such a satisfying read. Skilfully woven into a pleasingly matter of fact but gripping narrative, which benefits greatly from Moxham's readiness to record the quotidian alongside the dramatic, are sociological and political insights and just enough physical description to plant it firmly in its context without causing us to lose sight of the fascinating and unlikely relationship at its heart.
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on 25 October 2010
I ordered this book on the back of reading Moxham's Great Hedge of India and it did not disappoint. Read it from cover to cover over the weekend and would thoroughly recommend. It's a wonderful example of humanism and illustrates how what started out as a simple gesture of unity developed into a remarkable friendship. Good read -buy it.
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on 2 July 2011
An excellent insight into the life of a great woman. I definitely recommend this book if you are interested in Phoolan Devi or great people in history. Its mostly based on the authors personal recollections of his contact with her through correspondance and his numerous visits to India. A very interesting book.
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on 3 July 2011
This is an excellent book and a very easy read. The author interweaves his personal experiences with a real tragic story of politics and violence in modern India. Roy Moxham's books about Tea provide an historic and current insight into many things which we in the UK take for granted.
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on 25 June 2011
This is an immensely good read. The prose is crisp, clear, without gimmicks, and enables the narrative to skip along apace. The subject matter is engrossing, and provides a fascinating insight into certain aspects of modern India.
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on 20 June 2011
Book is interesting & easy to read. However I was expecting more about the Bandit Queen rather than his relationshipwith her.
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on 30 June 2010
Some books keep you awake reading into the night and this is one of them. I enjoyed it on so many levels. I cannot rate it highly enough.
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