Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Bhowani Junction

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As a long time Ava Gardner fan I was familiar with Bhowani Junction, the 1956 movie.

A big melodrama featuring Stewart Granger as a gallant British officer in India in the last days of the Raj, the movie is a thick mix of politics, derring-do, racial issues and steamy romance. Good stuff.

a-voz-do-desmanipulador017-20130911posters-de-filme-ano1956

What I did not know was that the movie 1 was based on a very popular novel by John Masters, published in 1954 and part of a very loose cycle of stories set in India between 19th and 20th century.

In many of the Masters novels, continuity is maintained by the members of the Savage family – military men in the service of the British Empire, facing many different historical events – from the thugs to the Mutiny to the Great Game. In other words, we follow different generations of the Savages as they face a changing India – and it’s a good idea, if you ask me: the series has a continuity, but each novel is self-contained and independent.
Nice trick.
And incidentally, Masters’ thugs story, The Deceivers, set in the days of the East India Company, was turned into a movie, too, featuring Pierce Brosnan.
Masters was a career officer himself, knew the workings of the colonial army inside and out and was also – most likely – an Anglo-Indian… that is, a descendant of both British and Indian citizens. He was therefore sensitive and careful about the subject.

bhowanijunction_1818512i

Now, as I said, I’m leaving Shanghai behind for a while, and focusing on India and the Raj feels like a good idea – I stick to the East and exotic locales, but I’m in a completely different environment.
Also, I’m tired of fantasy fiction 2, and a big stack of historical adventure sounds exactly what the doctor ordered to find some relief.

fred_pfeiffer_BhowaniSo I went and gave myself a gift 3 – the ebook edition of Bhowani Junction. I’ll try and get me all the other books in the series, too.
And I’ll post a review on Karavansara, as soon as possible.
The book was a smashing success at the time – and that’s why it was turned into a big budget, high profile movie so fast.
So, I’m looking forward at some hours spent with a good book.

And I might even go back and read a few history books about the Raj, and the Great Game. I need a change of air, so to speak.
And historical non-fiction’s a good diversion.

In the meantime, I’m programming the Gardner/Granger movie for the night of 31st… when the countryside’s silent, party revelers are fast asleep, nothing better than a great old movie.



  1. which in Italy is known as Sangue MistoMixed Blood… well, subtle is not. 
  2. meaning only, say, 70% of my reading in 2015 will be genre 
  3. yesterday it was Saint david’s day, after all, at least according to my calendar – so it was a good time for a small gift. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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