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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality reading, 6 Mar 2013
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M. Jones (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Towers Of Silence (The Raj Quartet) (Kindle Edition)
I have now read the first three books and am looking forward to (sadly) the last. This is how to write! If only some of the modern over-lauded authors could do as well.
I agree this is the best book so far but the others are very good too. I like the way the same incidents are retold from different view points as well as adding new information. If you've seen the TV series you know how well it was cast but there is so much more to them in the books and all the characters live so believeably.
I recommend the Quartet to anyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relationships picked to the bone, 24 Feb 2012
The Towers Of Silence, the third of Paul Scott's Raj Quartet, is very much a novel about women. Set in India in the 1940s, the war impinges on almost every aspect of their lives, but they experience conflict largely second hand via the consequences for their male associates. Their lives are changed because those of their men folk have been affected. But it is the internal conflicts, as these women strive to maintain normality within the abnormal, that provide the book with its real substance, its real battleground. And these are no mere domestic fronts. There are conflicts of interest, prejudices, especially in the realm of social class and ascribed worth, that shed real blood.

Here are just a few of the women involved. Mildred Layton and her two daughters, the long-suffering Sarah and simpler Susan, have John, husband and father, detained as a prisoner of war in Europe. Susan's new husband, the rather dull and inexperienced Teddy, has been killed in action on the Burma front. She bears his child, tentatively and premature. There's Mabel, Mildred's rather off-beat step-mother-in-law who occupies Rose Cottage, the well appointed residence that really would be put to better use if it housed the rest of the family, allowing them to vacate the less-than-adequate, if not actually demeaning government issue where they currently reside. And then there's Barbie Batchelor, Mabel's housemate of some years. She's an ex-missionary, a teacher of young children, parlour maid class, of course, now put out to the pasture of retirement, pasture that just happens to be the laws of the favoured and evied Rose Cottage.

From the previous two books in the quartet, the two Manners characters, Daphne, who was abused in the 1942 Mayapore civil unrest, and her aunt, Lady Manners, still figure large in events. The fall-out for the now ex-policeman, Ronald Merrick, still troubles, pursues him, in fact. Daphne died in childbirth, so he believes the case died with her. No-one else seems to think so. Intriguingly the surviving child is also a girl.

But it is Barbie who emerges a the book's focus. Her friend and colleague, Edwina Crane, opened the sequence of novels. She was also attached in the 1942 riots, and then later she committed suttee, her mind allegedly disturbed by what had happened. It was an act that Barbie could not and still can not understand, provoking her to question whether her life devoted to bringing Indian children to God might just have been mis-spent. Sarah Layton will still talk to her, but Mildred hates her. And so when...

But then this is all plot, and the reader wants this to unfold anew from the book, itself. Let it be said that the characters of The Towers Of Silence interact in remarkably complex ways. But what is actually said is only ever a small part of a much bigger story. It was Lawrence Durrell who described the English having a hard and horny outer shell, but soft at centre, exploring the world via sensitive antennae called humour and prejudice. And this description fits the way in which the colonial British in India have become a caricature of a society that no longer exists in the home country. Change is inevitable, and when it comes it is likely that those left rootless by it will be laid out on a tower of silence, the place where Parsees leave their dead to be picked to bones by raptors, where all the fleshed-out airs and graces of class will fall away.

Paul Scott's novel is sensitive, but analytical enough to have a vicious streak. It is full of rumours and, of course, prejudice, especially in the way that its characters deal with anyone suspected of having lower social status than themselves. And if you are a colonial British in India, that's just about everyone, despite the lack of obvious future that the way of life might claim.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Towers of Silence, 13 Feb 2014
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Excellent story in the Raj Quartet series by Paul Scott. A good story brilliantly told and it holds the reader from start to finish.
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5.0 out of 5 stars lovely book which I shall read more than once, 11 Oct 2013
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I have read a great deal about the Raj, from straight history to romantic novels, about lost and lonely subalterns on the Khyber Pass, boat loads of females going to India to be married, and some returning empty!!...Ghandi and the politics of the times..I have loved it all. I would strongly recommend The Raj Quartet to anyone whether they have an interest in India or not. Scotts prose is glorious, his characters very memorable. Git yourself a cuppa hot chocolate and enjoy
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unmissable, 8 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Towers Of Silence (The Raj Quartet) (Kindle Edition)
This quartet is truly unmissable. I would suggest reading it in the correct order to follow the stories. I found all the books to be equally interesting and informative about life in India prior to and during WWII.

The only down side to these books is that the author is no longer alive and cannot give us a similar view on the world today as it would be most interesting to see if the racism and class boundaries promolgated by the ruling powers whether Indian or British still exist today in as great a way as they did when this quartet was conceived and written.

Brilliant.
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