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The Far Pavilions...

Title : The Far Pavilions
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140048339
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 960 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Far Pavilions Reviews

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    2019-11-10 14:12

    I've been putting off writing a review for The Far Pavilions because it's so complex and epic that I feel like I can't do it justice without writing an equally epic review. But I've put this off for too long already and so we'll all just have to be satisfied with a less impressive but more manageable review.This story takes place in India during the mid-1800s, when the British controlled India as part of their far-flung empire. Ashton Pelham-Martyn is the son of an English professor and explorer of India. He's orphaned at a very young age and, for various reasons, ends up being unofficially adopted by an Indian widow, who calls him "Ashok" and keeps him as they travel to northern India, in sight of the mystical Himalayan mountains, which young Ash worshipfully calls the "Far Pavilions":Ash's formative years are spent immersed in Indian culture. When his adoptive mother is dying when he is about 11 years old, she finally tells him that he is British, not Indian, and soon Ash is packed off to England to get an education and develop this part of his heritage. Everyone involved wants him to become a card-carrying member of the stiff-upper-lip highbrow British society, with just enough retained knowledge of Indian languages and culture to make him useful to the British army.It never quite takes.Ash is a mix of both East and West, which is uncomfortable for both himself and everyone around him. He tells Koda Dad, his Indian father figure, that he will "always be two people in one skin--which is not a comfortable thing to be." Koda Dad responds that "you may discover in yourself a third person who is neither Ashok nor Pelham-Sahib, but someone whole and complete." The conflict between East and West, both in Ash's soul and in this part of the world generally, is one of the major themes of this book, but there is so much more: an amazing love story with more ups and downs than a roller coaster, a terrifying dive into a corner of India that has preserved its same brutal, backward culture for hundreds of years, and the British battle for a foothold in Afghanistan.The love story epitomizes the divide between India and Britain, but also evinces the hope that there can be an understanding between them. "There was nothing that he could not tell her or that she would not understand, and to lose her now would be like losing his heart and his soul. And what man can live without the one, or hope for Heaven without the other?" The last couple of hundred pages of the book turn in a quite different direction and focus on different characters--although the same themes continue to surface in new ways. Frankly, this part dragged for me, particularly as it evolved into an astoundingly detailed retelling and analysis of an actual historic one-day conflict in Afghanistan. I was tempted to dock a full star for that. But overall this is such an amazing, well-researched story that I have to round up. I was sniffling and wiping away tears as I finished the book. Truly, it's epic in every sense of the word.4.5 stars. July 2014 buddy read with Diane, Kathy, Hana and Felicia.

  • Misfit
    2019-11-24 18:55

    I can't believe I waited 25+ years to read this again! Oh well, the first copy I had I loaned out and never got back. I would give this 10 stars if I could, I had forgotten how good this book was. Thank you Amazon, for recommending books and Listmania -- so many wonderful books I would never have found or rediscovered without you! A truly wonderful story of star-crossed lovers, treachery, intrigue, heroism, honor and bigotry. The author has a great feel and understanding of India under the British Raj. The story of Ash and Juli (Anjuli) was incredible. I could literally feel Ash's pain while he had to sit through watching Juli be married to the evil Maharajah. The first 2/3 of the book deal with Ash and Julie's early lives together, culminating in the rescue of Juli from being Suttee with her sister. Those pages have to be some of the most heart stopping, page turning, sit on the edge of your seat excitement that I have ever come across in a book (and I have read a few). The last portion of the book gets away from Ash and Juli (although they are together) and slows down to tell the story of the British incursions into Afghanistan (sp?)and the resultant disaster of setting up a British mission in Kabul. Ash is still prominent as a "spy" for the guides, in the disguise of a native of the country, but while still a good read, the story takes on a different character from the first portions of the book. I resolve never to loan this book out again so that I won't lose it, and to keep it on my "to be read again and again" shelf throughout the years. Highly recommended. As a side note, if you are searching for a book for a younger teen to read, this is a good choice. The few scenes between Ash and Juli that were sexual in nature were left mostly to one's imagination. This author is capable of building her scenes without graphic play by play bodice ripping. **Update** I recently discovered another of this author's books,Shadow of the Moon. It's out of print but readily available used or at your library. Another lovely tale of India, set during the 1857 Sepoy rebellion. If you enjoyed TFP, you will probably enjoy this as well. ***Update***I have just finished another story on the Sepoy rebellion, Zemindar. Out of print, but readily available used. A wonderful tale, with some of the most gorgeous prose I've seen in a long time.

  • Alex is The Romance Fox
    2019-11-21 16:56

    I first read The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye when it was first published in 1978 and have since read it a few times…it’s become one of my favorite books ever.This is an epic novel of Ashton Pelham-Martyn, an English officer, during the British Raj period in India, who falls in love with Anjuli, a half-caste Hindu princess.The author’s knowledge of and childhood experiences in India make this an epic and unforgettable book.A sweeping and gripping high adventure and passionate love story, of heroism and cruelty, bigotry and prejudice, danger and love and the most breathtaking and vivid descriptions of 19th century India, - an absolute MASTERPIECE!!!A fantastic reread every time!!!

  • Elizabeth
    2019-12-02 17:09

    Another one of my all-time favorites. I don't know how I stumbled on this book, but its worth the 955 pages (yeah really!). What I liked best about this book is the exploration of the main characters alienation. He is neither British nor Indian, Christian, Muslim or Hindu, he's everything and nothing all at once. Actually I might recommend this book if you liked Life of Pi. Although I would say that this is a much more thorough and interesting tale. The novel takes place in India in the late 1880s, during a series of battles between Afghanistan and India and other various battles for the East India Company. Ashton (also called Ashok) is born to an English professor and a British mother in India. However his parents die of cholera when he is a baby and he is raised Hindu by a woman named Sita. Ashok lives a life in poverty as an attendant for a noble family and also becomes very close to the games keeper who is Muslim and learns their traditions as well. It's only when he is 13 or 14 that he learns that he is English and not Indian. He's sent to British boarding school and finds himself totally alienated. When he is 18 he joins the Corps of Guides and returns to India. Lots of battles and love affairs follow. This is a great book if you like detailed family sagas and historical novels, since I believe the book is couched in actual events.

  • Pinky
    2019-11-22 20:45

    Some books get into your senses. They fill your nose with the scent of a people, the lick of the sun on bare skin, the brazen gossip of silk sheets, or engulfs you with a composition of shadows that hints at something beyond line of sight.M.M. Kaye is a storyteller that makes you taste India. She takes her own life experience and, likeRudyard Kipling andFrances Hodgson Burnett, draws fairy tales in the sands of Southern India while tucked in at the bed of the Himalayans. This is not just a book for women, with its romance and its splendour, butErnest Hemmingway would be proud of the imagery used to explain the Sepoy Mutiny, the uprising of the colonised soldiers against the colonist generals. A contrast in textures, hard and soft, rough and smooth, creamy and quenching, sweet and savoury, all wrapped up in black and white.

  • Carol Clouds ꧁꧂
    2019-11-24 14:10

    3.5★When I finish my own review, I'm going to find & like the review where the reviewer packed it in about 160 pages from the finish. & I'm writing"like" when I mean applaud. This novel was more of an epic struggle than an enjoyable experience. 960 pages or not, I'm a fast, avid reader. No book should take me four months to read.My reading progress really does the work of a review!READING PROGRESS08/21 page 42 4.0% "Instantly enthralled!" 08/25 page 97 10.0% "OK, I'm ready for Ash's childhood to be over!"09/01 page 183 19.0% 09/06 page 258 26.0% 09/08 page 288 30.0% 09/15 page 316 32.0% 09/18 page 395 41.0% "Awesome ending to part 3!"09/22 page 401 41.0% 09/25 page 467 48.0% 10/02 page 530 55.0% 10/20 page 570 59.0% "This is my Everest!"10/30 page 614 63.0% 11/03 page 707 73.0% 11/27 page 720 75.0% 12/01 page 740 77.0% 12/04 page 798 83.0% "Part 7 is dragging..."12/05 page 823 85.0% "My copy completely disintegrated - the middle has fallen out. Will make it easier to carry around half a book though!"12/11 page 857 89.0% 12/15 page 874 91.0% "Lost interest."12/18 page 902 93.0% "The end is in sight! I'm thinking this book being both a historical and (part of the time) a historical romance is what doesn't work for me." There were some really enthralling bits (usually near the end of each part) and a lot that dragged. & like I wrote above, this book didn't manage to meld the historical and the historical romance parts successfully. & the cover of my copyhad me expecting more romance. Yeah I know - not fair to the author, but this was my expectation.Sometimes Juli didn't appear for 100s of pages. The ending was wonderful, inspiring, awesome. But I don't think I will be trying Kaye's other chunksters. I have one of Kaye's children's books& one of her mysterieswhich I think will suit me better.Time to recognise that I don't usually like fiction that is longer than 450 pages!

  • Cindy Newton
    2019-11-19 13:58

    Reading this book for the first time (as a teenager) was a magical experience for me. It was the first time I had ever been so deeply submerged in a book that I literally felt dazed and disoriented when it ended and I had to return to reality. They were so real for me--Ash and Juli, Wally and Zarin, Biju Ram and Hira Lal. Leaving their world--leaving India--at the end of the book was painful.The story is about Ashton Pelham-Martyn, English by birth but born in India. He spends his childhood believing he is Indian, and only finds out the truth when he's eleven. This is when the person that he thought he was is separated into two distinct people. One is his traditional English persona which is forced on him in his later childhood, and the other is Ashok, the person he was in his earliest memories of himself. Ash's journey to self-realization is a torturous one, and encompasses the full spectrum of human experience: love, friendship, loyalty, responsibility, despicable acts of cowardice and treachery, and acts of incredible heroism. Toward the end of the book is a battle scene based on a real historic event. Usually I find protracted battle scenes tedious, but this time . . . this time, I was completely caught up in it. I was THERE with Wally, and every desperate sortie, every stratagem, and every loss tore my heart out. I have never read another battle scene since which captivated me as this one did. This book is storytelling at its grandest. It doesn't hurt that Kaye constructs sentences designed to thrill an English teacher's heart, so smoothly and effortlessly do they flow. If you have not yet experienced this epic tale, what are you waiting for?

  • Dorcas
    2019-12-09 20:09

    I finished it!!!!I'm not even going to try to summarize this, enough readers have already done so and to be honest, it's so huge, so SO HUGE that I wouldn't even know where to start. Only that it's about a man born without the comfort of national borders, trying to find where he belongs in this world, and a half caste girl, a princess, who would give her life to find it with him.I loved it. I lived it. I feel like I've died a thousand deaths over the last two weeks reading it.If you haven't already read this, by all means pick up a copy. But don't even think about reading it until you're thoroughly in the mood for a long, hot, Indian epic. I had this on my shelf for going on three years, waiting for the right time. You can only read something for the first time once, so choose carefully.My favorite part: Ash's childhood in India and later.... SUTTEE!!!My least favorite part: The last 150 pages, the Afghanistan war. Some parts were intriguing and some parts (endless battle scenes) were snooze worthy. I mainly read those bits to see who else had died.Highly recommended.CONTENT:SEX: One scene, not explicit but not really for young readers either.VIOLENCE: Some battle scenes, poisonings, Suttee, assassinations etc, not gratuitous, but people do die.LANGUAGE: Mild profanity sparsely scattered throughout.

  • Patty
    2019-11-12 18:55

    A novel about India in the late 1800s. I've been putting off reading this book– despite it being hugely famous and people constantly asking me if I've read it– because I'm pretty sure it's going to be obnoxiously pro-colonialism. (The dedication, for instance, is to the author's husband and father-in-law, British soldiers who served in India.) But I'm not far enough into it yet to judge, so perhaps I'll be pleasantly surprised.I was quite amused by this passage, describing a woman who died after giving birth in a tent:It was not her fault that Isobel died. It was the wind that killed Isobel: that cold wind off the far, high snows beyond the passes. It stirred up the dust and the dead pine-needles and sent them swirling through the tent where the lamp guttered to the draught, and there was dirt in that dust: germs and infection and uncleanness from the camp outside, and from other camps. Dirt that would not have been found in a bedroom in Peshawar cantonment, with an English doctor to care for the young mother.I'm pretty sure the author a) does not understand how germs work, and b) is way overestimating the value of a doctor in 1850. So, I was afraid this book would be colonialist, and it turns out I was right! D: As well as being terrible in all sorts of ways. Rather than detail them all, I think I'll just excerpt this bit for your enjoyment (the context is that Anjuli, an Indian princess because of course she is, has snuck out alone to meet privately with Ash, a British dude):"If it is for yourself that you are afraid," said Anjuli sweetly, "you have no cause to be, for I sleep alone and therefore no one will miss me. And if I feared for myself, I would not be here."Her voice was still barely more than a whisper, but there was so much scorn in it that the blood came up into Ash's face and for a fraction of a second his fingers tightened cruelly about her wrist."Why, you little bitch," said Ash softly and in English.OUR HERO, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. And no, why her not being afraid should make her a 'bitch' makes no more sense in context. If anything, it's more shocking because the rest of the book treats swearing much as 19th-century literature would– that is, avoids it nearly entirely.There's also plenty of narrative discourse expounding upon the foreign ways of the East (crafty, prone to lying, intricate) and how they differ from the ways of the West (straightforward, honest, fair) and how impossible it is that ever the twain should meet. However, Our Hero Ash was raised as an Indian for most of his childhood and thus can cross the lines. The example given for this is whenever he's asked a general polite question ("What's your opinion?" or "How are you?") he answers honestly, even when one is expected to tell a white lie. And this shows how foreign he is from those straightforward British! I don't know why it bothers me that the author can't keep her racism straight, BUT IT DOES.I'm going to read the next 800 pages anyway, because I have a Thing about finishing books I've started, but it's totally going to be a hate read.Another distressing passage for you all! The context here is that Ash and Anjuli are in love, but Anjuli refuses to run away with him because she promised to take care of her younger sister, Shushila:Ash caught her wrist and wrenched her hand away: "But I love you too. And I need you. Does that mean nothing to you? Do you care so much more for her than you do for me? Do you?" [...] "And my happiness?" demanded Ash, his voice harsh with pain. "Does mine not matter?"But it had been no good. Nothing that he could say had made any difference. He had used every argument and every plea he could think of, and at last he had taken her again, ravaging her with an animal violence that had bruised and hurt, yet was still sexually skilful enough to force a response from her that was half pain and half piercing rapture. But when it was over and they lay spent and breathless, she could still say: "I cannot betray her." And he knew that Shushila had won, and that he was beaten. His arms fell away and he drew aside and lay on his back staring up into the darkness, and for a long time neither of them spoke.GOOD JOB ASH! This is totally the way to convince someone to spend their life with you: act like a whiny brat and then abuse them. That's what I like in a romantic hero. I didn't even include the part where Anjuli tells him not to worry, she knows how to make her future husband think she's a virgin, and Ash is disgusted and angry that she knows "harlot's tricks".Ash continues to be a dick, news at eleven.Still terrible! In recent developments of the terribleness, Anjuli (Ash's One True Love) and her sister Shushila have been condemned to be burned alive. (I also have a lot of Doylist criticisms of the climatic event of the novel being a European dude rescuing an Indian woman from sati, but let's stick to Watsonian terribleness for the moment.) But obviously Ash only really cares about saving one woman from this fate, because, yo, he's not in love with Shushila so who cares what happens to her? Or, as he says to Anjuli when she feels obligated to watch Shushila (WHO, AGAIN, IS HER SISTER) till the end:"Shushila!" Ash spat out the name as though it were an obscenity. "Always Shushila – and selfish to the end. I suppose she made you promise to do this? She would! Oh, I know she saved you from burning with her, but if she'd really wanted to repay you for all you have done for her, she could have saved you from reprisals at the hands of the Diwan by having you smuggled out of the state, instead of begging you to come here and watch her die.""You don't understand," whispered Anjuli numbly."Oh, yes I do. That's where you are wrong. I understand only too well. You are still hypnotized by that selfish, hysterical little egotist."Or later, after Shushila has died and Anjuli is still mourning her (it's been, like, less than a month, by the way):"You will not", said Ash, speaking between clenched teeth, "say that name to me again. Now or ever! Do you understand? I'm sick and tired of it. While she was alive I had to stand aside and see you sacrifice yourself and our whole future for her sake, and now that she's dead it seems that you are just as determined to wreck the rest of our lives by brooding and moping and moaning over her memory. She's dead, but you still refuse to face that. You won't let her go, will you?"He pushed Anjuli away with a savage thrust that sent her reeling against the wall for support, and said gratingly: "Well, from now on you're going to let the poor girl rest in peace, instead of encouraging her to haunt you. You're my wife now, and I'm damned if I'm going to share you with Shu-shu. I'm not having two women in my bed, even if one of them is a ghost, so you can make up your mind here and now; myself or Shushila."OH ASH SO ROMANTIC. But hey, it turns out to be okay, because then Anjuli relates a long story about how Ash was right all along, and Shushila was totally an evil bitch just like her mother, because I guess evil (and sexiness!) is genetic. I can't wait until I'm done with this book.God, this book is endless. But I'm so close to being done! For the dramatic climax, Ash has gone off to disguise himself as an Afghani to be a spy and live in Kabul during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Because this is obviously a very exciting plot development that would be fun to read about, it's all happening off-screen while the last hundred of so pages have been a nearly non-fictional account of politics and battles. Without Ash around to be a sexist dick, the author has instead gone with bizarre European stereotypes, because I suppose something has to be terrible: And as he watched, the prescience that is so often a part of the Irish heritage stirred in him, bringing a premonition of disaster that was so strong that instinctively he flung up a hand as though to ward it off... (man, I have Irish heritage! WHEN DO I GET TO TELL THE FUTURE?) and He had not expected the older man to understand how he had felt, but Louis Cavagnari was only English by adoption. The blood in his veins was French and Irish, and he too was a romantic. I'd like to note that this book was written in 1978, not 1878.OH GOD FINALLY. For the final hundred or so pages, the book morphs into an incredibly detailed account of the attack on the British embassy in Kabul by unpaid, discontented Afghani soldiers (Ash plays no part in this, as he spends the entire time locked in a closet by someone trying to protect him from himself). The book even includes a map of the embassy, so you can follow along with who is where, like some sort of military textbook. Because that goes so well with the previous eleven hundred pages. Also there is lots of weird nearly-religious praising of soldiery ideals: The Guides laughed again; and their laughter made Wally's heart lift with pride and brought a lump to his throat as he grinned back at them with an admiration and affection that was too deep for words. Yes, life would have been worth living if only to have served and fought with men like these. It had been a privilege to command them – an enormous privilege: and it would be an even greater one to die with them. They were the salt of the earth. They were the Guides. His throat tightened as he looked at them, and he was aware again of a hard lump in it, but his eyes were very bright as he reached for his sabre, and swallowing painfully to clear that constriction, he said almost gaily: "Are we ready? Good. Then open the doors –" And then he dies (though not without quoting the Aeneid, because I guess all 19th century Irish dudes are into that sort of thing). Sorry to spoil it for you, but uh, I'm just trying to spare you all from reading it.Anyway, this event convinces Ash and Anjuli that they're too good for the rest of humanity and so they should just go live by themselves in some valley in the Himalayas (the fact that the Himalayas are, you know, already populated does not appear to present a problem):"Where do you go?""We go to find our Kingdom, Sirdar-Sahib. Our own Dur Khaima – our far pavilions.""Your...?"The Sirdar looked so bewildered that Ash's mouth twitched in the shadow of a smile as he said: "Let me say, rather, that we hope to find it. We go in search of some place where we may live and work in peace, and where men do not kill or persecute each other for sport or at the bidding of Governments – or because others do not think or speak or pray as they do, or have skins of a different colour. – do not know if there is such a place, or, if we find it, whether it will prove too hard to live there, building our own house and growing our own food and raising and teaching our children. Yet others without number have done so in the past. Countless others, since the day that out First Parents were expelled from Eden. And what others have done, we can do."And then the book ends abruptly, without revealing if they found their ~kingdom~. On the other hand, then the books ends! I don't have to read it anymore! I AM DONE THANK GOD.

  • El
    2019-11-20 17:48

    This is one of those books I've had on my shelf for... freaking-ever, but it's always just sort of been there for a rainy day. Like one of those days where you feel like reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy because you want a romping good time, but sadly, you've already read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and you're not really in the mood for the wordiness that is Tolkien anyway - you just want all the fun and adventure without all the work.Okay, maybe I'm the only one who has waited to read this book for those reasons.I've read some other things by Kaye, but they were specifically mysteries. I enjoyed them both - she took me to Zanzibar and Kenya and wrote about murders there and they were pretty exciting. I knew The Far Pavilions wouldn't be that same sort of excitement, but I figured since the book is about the same weight as I am that I'd find something exciting in the pages.What I really found, sadly, was a lot of disappointment. There was some adventure, don't get me wrong. But there was so much between those moments of adventure that were not... so... adventurous, so my interest waned. A lot. I've been joking that the pavilions really are far, far away - they don't seem to make an appearance until the book is almost over, and that seems a really long time for them to show up since the title refers to them and all. I wanted them to get to the freaking Far Pavilions already, let's get on with it, oh my god, are they not there yet?Clearly I needed a Valium while reading this one.I see a lot of reviews raving about this book, and I feel really bad that I didn't manage to find it as charming as everyone said it was. But it wasn't 1189 pages of absolute horror. I was invested, occasionally, in Ash and Anjuli and their plight. The politics were vaguely interesting as well; as I've stated before (and likely will state again) I know very little about the Great Game, and I continue to feel I should know more about it before reading this sort of historical fiction - though I maintain I should be learning something as I go along, right?But I really like M.M. Kaye. She was born in India and I think that's way evident in her writing in The Far Pavilions. Her love of the country practically drips off of every page and I totally respect that. However, this book was published in 1978 and is just as much of a love story as it is an adventurous historical bit of fiction. There are parts that are... well... saccharine, and I absolutely am not in a saccharine mood right now. Like this passage:"Wally, who was always falling in and out of love, had been fond of quoting lines that some poet or other had written, to the effect that it was 'better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.' Well, Wally - and Tennyson, or whoever it was - had been right. It was better, infinitely better, to have loved Juli and lost her than not to have loved her at all. And if he did nothing worthwhile in the years ahead, life would still have been worth living because he had once loved and been loved by her..." (p 565)(That being said, I really liked the character of Wally.)I just couldn't quite shake the feeling I was reading a glorified romance novel, which is a real downer for me. I don't mind a little bit of loving in my literature, but I don't need sweeping romances. Especially when I'm picking up something that I expect to be more drama and excitement and fewer heaving bosoms.Bottom line, it's just not what I had signed up for.Interestingly at the back of the book is one of those advertisements for The Far Pavilions Picture Book - for just $7.95 this 9" x 11 1/8" "stunning visualization" of Kaye's epic could be yours. Includes selected photographs from the author's family albums and 32 color paintings by the author herself.That actually sounds neat.It just wasn't what I had wanted. And the pages multiplied every time I put it down. I seriously thought it would never end. I was ready to move on. Because I couldn't get images like the one below out of my mind. And the fact that the image below exists is proof that I'm not the only one who had those sorts of images in my mind while reading the book.

  • Hana
    2019-11-21 19:42

    "We go to find our Kingdom....Our own Dur Khaima--our far pavilions."It is a big book packed with drama, great characters, romance, the thrill of battle, and adventure in faraway places, but it's also filled with thoughtful insights into national character and identity--and the complex web of cultures that defined the Indian subcontinent, the British Raj and Afghanistan in the late 19th century. Special thanks to Diane Lynn, Tadiana and all my friends who joined in our buddy read and sharpened my appreciation. Feel free to check out the resources and chime in with more discussions on our Far Pavilions group: I knocked off one star because I wanted more Juli!! Was there ever a better case for fan fiction?

  • Heidi The Hippie Reader
    2019-11-15 15:50

    The Far Pavilions is one of my all time favorite books. I stumbled upon it in a book store because one of the employees had marked it as a must-read. I picked it up and was absolutely enthralled.This historical fiction is reminiscent of Margaret George's books in its character development, dramatic plot line, and, clocking in at more than 900 pages, length. There are battles, romance, and palace intrigue- a little bit of everything. It's one of the few books that I've read more than once and that's saying a lot as I tend to not re-read books. I love it and always recommend it to people who are looking for excellent historical fiction.If you loved The Far Pavilions, I'd recommend reading anything by Margaret George, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, and Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. (I wonder why so many Margarets are amazing historical fiction authors? Weird...)

  • Emily
    2019-11-21 20:08

    Reading this book was quite possibly the only good thing that happened to me in the year 1995. I've since re-read it in its entireity another four or five times, and skimmed through it and picked out my favorite passages at least a dozen times. It's a beautiful "sweeping epic" set in British colonial India, the story of "Ash", who spends the first part of his life believing he's the son of a Hindu serving woman in the palace of a rajah and is himself enlisted as a personal servant/favorite playmate of the young prince. He later discovers he is actually the son of English gentry, and is sent "back" to England (though he was born in India) to attend posh prep schools and receive a proper education so that he can follow in his father's footsteps and be commisioned into the Royal Army, where, of course, his first assignment is to return to India. I love all the palace intrigue and politics, and the juxtaposition of Eastern and Western cultures and ideals, and the ways Ash is depicted searching to make meaning of his identity and his spiritual and personal beliefs. There's a love story, too, and although it is deeply satisfying, I find it almost secondary to the rest of the story.

  • Amy
    2019-12-06 14:12

    Wow, it seems as if I'm the only person who disliked the book. I was excited to read it, and only finished for my book club (yes, I do take one for the team now and then). For me it had several flaws and was painful to finish. 1. The narrative's flow is disappointing, things happen and then you're on to the next event with little transition, which made the piece feel rushed in that sense.2. The detail that drowns you into boredom. She describes some things to the point of ad nauseum, but then does not give enough detail. Having never been to India I would've appreciated more detail about the landscapes and customs (maybe she doesn't know or didn't research this out). Also, there is a superficial description of the characters. 3. There were some parts of the book that weren't needed, it was filled with tangents to the narrative that not only made the book longer, but took space away from a better development of the narrative and characters.On the whole a very disappointing book, I would not recommend it to anyone.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-11-29 14:47

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  • Shelli
    2019-11-18 14:48

    I liked it. I didn't love it. After investing the time in this 960 page book, I admit I am somewhat disappointed. I really wanted to love it. I guess I was expecting an exciting adventure mixed with a beautiful love story. I got a long dry trip across the desert, a war story and a love story with very little romance. I did learn a lot from this story and I always appreciate that from a book. I learned about the culture of India and the caste system. I also learned about the second Afghan-Indian war. I enjoyed learning about the Corps of Guides. It did have a full cast of interesting characters and many of them I came to care about. Wally was probably my favorite character as his enthusiasm really brought his character to life. I had a bit of a hard time with the main character Ashton Pelham-Martyn. He did not always come across as believable to me. Many times his ideals and romanticism and dramatic reactions reminded me that he was written by a woman. The book did have many interesting and exciting parts, but I feel that it was entirely too long. All of the extra wording took away from the main story and made it at times very tedious and slow. There were places that were repetitive. Ash would explain a situation he was in and several pages later it would be re-told by a different character. There were a few phrases like...."as the crow flies" that were, in my opinion, over-used. I am glad I read it. I did enjoy Ash and Juli's story and wish we had spent more time with them together. I did feel the author's love of India and understood her message of tolerance. It could have been told in fewer words and been less sanctimonious at the end. If you enjoy a long slower paced saga, it's a worthwhile read.

  • Diane Lynn
    2019-11-24 19:50

    Buddy read with Hana, Tadiana, Kathy and Felicia in July 2014.This was my third reading and it's still a favorite. Usually with a reread I tend to skip over some parts but not so with this one. I wanted to read every single word because this is such a wonderful story. I may have read more carefully because it was a buddy read, or maybe I just get more out of the books I read since joining GR, whatever the reason, this third reading was the best ever. I would refer anyone interested to the group discussion pages: for a great read ladies. And thank you to Hana for setting up the folders!

  • Laura
    2019-11-12 14:09

    Magnificent book, telling the story of Aston and Anjuli ant the India struggle against Afghnistan.The movie is available at You Tube. It is as good as this book, it's worth watching.

  • Felicia J.
    2019-11-25 21:03

    It took nearly 5 months, but I have finally finished this epic tale of star-crossed lovers searching for a place to belong, set amid the political intrigues, cruelties and hubris of the British Raj. At almost 49 hours, it's by far the longest audiobook I've yet tackled. Narrator Vikas Adam was an expert guide, and much of the story had me utterly captivated. But this novel had a couple of glaring flaws that kept me from giving it 5 stars (although, in the end, it did seem to add up to more than the sum of its parts).I will leave a detailed recounting of the plot to other reviewers. At the heart of the story is the struggle of Ashton Pelham Martin, born British but raised Indian, to reconcile the two halves of himself. His beloved, Anjuli, gives the book its soul. A neglected Indian princess, she too is "half caste," valued solely for the emotional support she gives her spoiled, volatile younger sister, Shushila. The same intolerance and prejudice that makes both Ash and Juli outcasts in their own country, places seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the path of their love.The story managed to have both a breathtaking scope - sweeping from the Himalayas to the parched deserts of India and back again to the Hindu Kush - and a remarkable intimacy, revealing the private inner lives of a huge cast of characters. The novel highlighted how people find both comfort and frustration in cultural customs and traditions. They give human beings a place to belong while simultaneously limiting and stifling them.Despite all of the other compelling characters, Ash and Juli's saga was so central to the book's emotional core that the story lost its way when its focus shifted to the Second Afghan War and the ill-fated British mission to Kabul. Try as I might, I was not as engrossed in the fate of Lt. Walter Hamilton, Ash's best friend, especially as both Ash and Juli were relegated to the role of bystanders. The final quarter of the book dragged, taking me a few weeks to finish. I wish M.M. Kaye had used that section as the basis for a second book, rather than trying to shoehorn it into Ash and Juli's story.The key figures in the siege against the British mission were based on real people. Therefore, the story seemed unnecessarily padded in this final section, as if Kaye were just marking time to arrive at the major historical events. Throughout the book, she also showed a weakness for heavy-handed foreshadowing, to the point I could predict major plot twists long before they happened. In the final quarter, she beat the reader over the head with it, until I was almost relieved to finally reach the end (where I felt Ash and Juli's story was wrapped up too hastily). However, the book's many strengths made it compelling and worthwhile, and I'll probably listen to or read the story again someday. Vikas Adam was an extraordinary narrator, giving consistent, distinctive voices to all of the characters. I especially loved how he used different accents for Ash, depending on whether he was thinking or speaking in English or in an Indian dialect.

  • A.R. Simmons
    2019-11-08 17:55

    It has been some time since I read this wonderful book. As I recall M.M. Kaye lived in India and had a deep love of the subcontinent’s people. Today I am reading Kipling's Kim. I remember the leading character in Kaye's book as similar to Kim. The Far Pavilions is a saga (it's quite large) set in India during the Raj. It is sympathetic to British and their loyal subjects (sympathizers?), and presents an enlightening contrast to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I recommend The Far Pavilions to everyone open minded enough to understand that people and events should be evaluated within the world in which they lived at the time. Is it a nostalgic look at the Raj? Yes. Does it excuse European colonialism? No.M.M. Kaye’s book is beautifully written and easy to read. This is historical fiction at its best, a story one can enter and live in until the final page, and then remember fondly, as I do.If you have seen made-for-TV movie, try to forget it. It’s a kazoo portraying a French horn. (That is perhaps unfair, considering time and budget constraints.)If you like historical fiction, if you like your adventure with a little romance thrown in, and if you enjoy realistic people doing heroic things, by all means allow M.M. Kaye to take you to a place where East meets West and three great religions collide.

  • Kim
    2019-12-04 13:48

    This is the best epic novel I ever read. It's an historical adventure/romance that takes place in colonial India. The book starts out when the protagonist, a young English boy named Ash is orphaned because of a cholera outbreak. He is then raised by an Indian nursemaid. Later as a young man he falls in love with a young woman, Anjuli, who has been promised to marry an elderly wealthy nobleman against her will. Her wicked stepmother selected the old man out of spite knowing he would die soon. Custom dictated Anjuli would be burned alive on his funeral pier at his death. Thirty years later I still think of these characters I came to love so much sometimes. It's a beautifully written novel, and also a page-turner-- never drags-- and I learned a lot about India too.

  • Chris
    2019-11-12 15:01

    I brought this audio edition with a monthly credit. (I succumbed after looking at all the cool narrators. Very good so far, this book aside).I have no problems with the narrator, Vikras Adam is very good. I'm not sure if this book works best in audio form, however. GR friends whose reviews and opinions I respect greatly love this book, and for that reason alone I will give this a try in print version. But Ash is annoying me and I find some of the description to be rather repeatitive. Will try print version.

  • Leslie
    2019-11-13 17:05

    Being woefully ignorant of history, I didn't know how frustrating and ultimately tragic this historical fiction was going to be. I did find the main character Ash a tad irritating at times only to be brought up short by the realization of how young he was (he is still under 30 at the end of this epic!).The narrator (whose name escapes me at the moment) was terrific.

  • Suzanne
    2019-11-14 17:08

    The character I enjoyed the most in this book was actually India. It was fascinating to be introduced to the complex society, religions, culture, geography and history. The love and respect that the author has for India really shone through and I learned a lot. The love story wasn't my favorite part - it felt like a Victorian melodrama, but that actually fits with both the setting/time of the story and, possibly, the age of the author. But once again, I feel very grateful to be a woman living now and in a part of the world where I have equalities and freedoms still not accorded in so many other parts of the world, and certainly not 150 years ago. The last 200 pages or so focused on battles and politics in Afghanistan and, similar to others, this did drag for me. But it also was remarkably prescient about today's situation there. This part in particular stood out: "That such a thing [another Afghan war] could happen again had seemed so impossible that even after Koda Dad had warned him of it, he could not believe that anyone with any sense could consider it, largely because, like most Frontier Force soldiers, he was under no illusions as to the fighting capabilities of the Border tribesmen or the ruggedness of the country in which they lived; and knew only too well the appalling problems posed by supply and transport (quite apart from the actual fighting) that must confront any modern army attempting to advance through a hostile land where every hill-top and ravine, each rock and stone and fold in the ground, could hide an enemy marksman."As for Wally, dear sweet Wally, you could see in him the future folly of the First World War, when similar lads would sign up with dreams of military glory and honor, only to be cut down in their thousands in the fields of France. Safe in my 2012 world, I'm still confused at how anyone could see war in such a romantic light.

  • Deborah Blair
    2019-11-28 21:02

    This is a wonderful book. A real epic novel of war and romance, it has been called a "Gone with the Wind" set in India and Afghanistan. It is a long adventure that weaves through many of the small "kingdoms" that made up India during the 1800's and the time of Britain's attempted hold on the country and its forays into trying to take over and hold Afghanistan. M.M. Kaye, the writer, knew the landscape and territory she wrote about well because her father was a decorated, "Guide," in the British Army. the Guides were in the 1800's and early 1900's the special forces of the day. It has been written that her lead character of Ashton, completely able to blend in with the colorful, fierce Afghan Pashtun tribes, was modeled after her father.People who know this book - love it and read it again and again. The characters are memorable and one finds oneself wanting to return to re-experience them and the mythical landscapes that M.M. Kaye creates. Stephen King, whom I would not normally think of as liking this sort of romantic, historical genre, has praised it.Even though I have undergraduate degrees in History, Theater and Literature I was not familiar with this book. In 1997, when working with Afghan refugees they shared this book with me, saying that it was a well written, magical story that would teach me about their culture and that of India. Once in I was smitten and could not put it down. I was glad of its War and Peace length, but wish it was longer!Since first reading The Far Pavilions I have met many who knew it and loved it - like a secret club as for some time it was not in publication and could only be found used. Fortunately it is now available new and/or through used book sellers as on Amazon. If you like Historical romances and/or want a real taste of what Afghanistan and India were like in the late 1880's - please treat yourself to this book!!!

  • Lisa (Harmonybites)
    2019-11-28 14:50

    You know that kind of novel where you turn to page one, and hours later blink and look down to find hundreds of pages went by? This is that kind of novel. Kaye was born, raised, and spent her early married life in India, and she and her husband came from a long line of British officers that served the British Raj. In fact, given the dedication, Walter Hamilton, a character in the novel, was related to her husband. So she certainly has the credentials to bring the India of the Raj to life, nor is the novel blind to it's uglier aspects. And the pageantry of multi-ethnic, multi-religion India she presents is fascinating, with the kind of rich details that inspires a reader to read more about the land after the novel's end. She centers her tale around Ashton Hilary Akbar Pelhman-Martyn. A boy orphaned by the Sepoy Mutiny of 1856, he's raised as a Hindu and when he's returned to England can't really adjust, finding he's a man torn between the cultures. There's also romance and adventure to be had--it's a terrific yarn and quite suspenseful in parts. At first the last 250 pages centered on Afghanistan seemed an anti-climatic digression, but I ultimately felt it effectively tied together the novel's themes of tolerance and acceptance, as well as holding its own fascination for showing how Western powers came to grief over a hundred years ago in a "fanatically independent" land.I wouldn't call this a "literary" book that impresses because of style. The omniscient point of view is skillfully done (the book saidism dialogue tagging noticeably not), but like Forever Amber or Shogun it sweeps you away to another place and time.

  • Laura
    2019-11-27 12:53

    Next On:Monday, 10:45 on BBC Radio 4M M Kaye's epic of love and war, dramatised by Rukhsana Ahmad. Following the 1857 Mutiny, Ashton, a young English orphan, is disguised by his ayah as her Indian son, Ashok. And so - as he forgets his true identity - his destiny is set.Sita / Narrator ..... Vineeta RishiBiju Ram ..... Inam MirzaK-Daad ..... Sam DastorAshok (child) ..... Joseph SamraiAnjuli (child) ..... Nishi MaldeHira Lal ..... Sagar AryaLalji ..... Nazim KhanDaya Ram ..... Kaleem JanjuaPelham Martyn ..... Sam DaleDirected by Marc Beeby and Jessica DromgooleNotesM.M. Kaye's masterwork is a vast, rich and vibrant tapestry of love and war that moves from the foothills of the Himalayas, to the burning plains, to the besieged British Mission in Kabul, filling them with immediacy, meticulous historical accuracy, and a rare insight into the human heart.A story of divided loyalties and fierce friendship; of true love made impossible by class and race; a critique of the imperialist adventure; and an examination of the cultural and spiritual clash between East and West peopled by a wonderful cast of characters, The Far Pavilions is the very stuff of drama.This is the first of twenty episodes spanning the years between the Indian Mutiny in 1857 and the Siege of the British Mission in Kabul in 1879.

  • Lee Anne
    2019-11-15 13:43

    This epic tale (over 1,000 pages, but don’t let that stop you) is set in India during the British occupation. Ashton Pellham-Martyn is British, but because of his parents’ deaths has been raised by his Hindu nurse. When his relatives finally find out, he is sent to England for schooling. Once grown up, he returns to India to work for the British army, and his task is to organize the caravan escorting two Princesses to their wedding hundreds of miles away. Because of his upbringing, he is torn between two worlds and belongs to neither. He falls is love with the eldest Princess, Anjuli Bai, but his duty and her upcoming marriage make their love doomed from the start. A country on the brink of chaos, a woman whose life is in danger, a man who belongs to neither world, all these combine to make this one of the most breathtaking books ever.

  • Alison Stegert
    2019-11-19 20:49

    Despite the length, I loved this book. The characters, the places, the action and intrigue all held my attention to the very last page. Woven through the history of 19th century India is Ashton's struggle to find his place in society--his identity. He is a man with superior language skills and an uncanny ability to meld with local customs, yet he never is "at home." Always the outsider, he can never truly be himself, except with his "larla" (darling)... A map in the book would really enhance the reading. I found a useful website that includes maps, photos and historical information:

  • Megalion
    2019-11-15 16:04

    I'm very late to writing this review but I realized that it's a simple thing I have to say.This is truly an epic and classic story. Has all the elements of a great one. Doomed Love, War, More War, Damsel in Distress. It may be long but it's very much worth the time.