I love books about the British colonial experience in India. I also love books that address issues of social class and cultural misunderstanding, as this one does. I loved this book. It’s a great story, an entertaining romp, though it deals with a serious topic: the Great Mutiny of 1857, when the sepoys rebelled against their British officers, and against the colonial forces in general. While their fragile authority crumbles around them, the British continue to maintain the fiction that they are bringing their superior civilization to the grateful natives. Their ability to delude themselves is awe inspiring. This book is very ironic, very funny, yet tragic at the same time. Farrell manages to draw attention not only to the arrogance of the British ruling class, but also to the hypocrisy of the Church, and the limited options for the women of the time.
Written in 1974, the book is part of a series by J.G. Farrell called the Empire Trilogy. All three books in the series were recently re-released. The other two books, Troubles, and The Singapore Grip address further follies of British colonialism, namely Ireland in the 1920’s, and Singapore on the eve of World War II. I can’t wait to read these.
I’m not much on long plot summaries. If you want to read one, here is a link to a review.
(Book 11, 2006)