East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


At last, The Far Pavilions

The_Far_PavilionsMy goodness, it’s been 18 months!
In January 2015, I announced my intention of reading M.M. Kaye’s The Far Pavilions1 as part of my reading list of adventure/historical novels set in India.
I got me a cheap, second-hand, printed-so-small-you’ll-burn-your-eyes hardback copy of the Italian translation2, and then all hell broke loose, my priorities changed, the book got buried at the bottom of my reading pile, and I picked it up again five days ago.
I’m going through it like a speeding train – basically because it’s a novel that reads like a breeze. It will be over by Wednesday.

Now, some personal background – I’m pretty sure my mother read The Far Pavilions when it came out in Italian in 1980. My aunt lent my mom her copy – I have this faint memory of the two of them talking about it. And both my mom and my aunt were into it because of the romantic element – about which, more later.

So, what’s the deal with The Far Pavilions? Continue reading

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Wicked Women of the Raj

bf59a97080c1496fa4dd239205f58419I’ve just finished Coralie Younger’s Wicked Women of the Raj, and it was a fun, informative and inspiring read.

Younger’s essay is basically a catalog of the western women that, in the 19th and early 20th century, married Indian princes, the fabled Rahjas of India.
Each “wicked woman” gets her own chapter, maybe one photograph, and a collection of facts detailing her biography, and her “scandalous” choice. Continue reading

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Bhowani Junction

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.


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. Continue reading