India, 1943 In a regimental hill station, the ladies of Pankot struggle to preserve the genteel fa ade of British society amid the debris of a vanishing empire and World War II A retired missionary, Barbara Batchelor, bears witness to the connections between many human dramas the love between Daphne Manner and Hari Kumar the desperate grief an old teacher feels for anIndia, 1943 In a regimental hill station, the ladies of Pankot struggle to preserve the genteel fa ade of British society amid the debris of a vanishing empire and World War II A retired missionary, Barbara Batchelor, bears witness to the connections between many human dramas the love between Daphne Manner and Hari Kumar the desperate grief an old teacher feels for an India she cannot rescue and the cruelty of Captain Ronald Merrick.
The Towers of Silence India In a regimental hill station the ladies of Pankot struggle to preserve the genteel fa ade of British society amid the debris of a vanishing empire and World War II A retired missionary B
May be my favourite of the quartet to date. Events from the preceding novels are told from the perspective of characters who were of secondary importance in the preceding novels. The main character here is Barbie Batchelor. Barbie is frail, careworn but quite a strong character in her own right. It's through this novel that the differing class structure and prejudices really stood out. Actually enjoyed seeing past events through the eyes of the secondary characters, for my mind they offered a cl [...]
Barbie's Book In September 1939, when the war had just begun, Miss Batchelor retired from her post as superintendent of the Protestant mission schools in the city of Ranpur. Her elevation to superintendent had come towards the end of her career in the early part of 1938. At the time she knew it was a sop but tackled the job with her characteristic application to every trivial detail, which meant that her successor, a Miss Jolley, would have her work cut out untangling some [...]
The Parsis - members of the Zoroastrian faith, who have immigrated to India from Iran - do not bury or cremate their dead. The corpses are hung upon huge wooden structures to be picked clean by vultures. (I have seen this place in Mumbai from the outside. No outsiders can enter.)An apt metaphor for a dead empire, being slowly devoured by the vultures of history - seen mostly through the eyes of Barbie Batchelor, a retired missionary schoolteacher: herself an anachronism.Another winner from Paul [...]
Part three of this saga continued the story of the Layton family. This part of the story also shed more light on Barbie the retired missionary. Other reoccurring characters such as Ronald Merrick and Lady Manners made appearances as well. I am looking forward to reading about what happens in parts four and five of this saga.
Scott writes old white women brilliantly. There actually isn't too much new plot in this third installment of the Raj Quartet, set in the hill station of Pankot; we mostly go over ground covered in the first two novels, sometimes from an omniscient perspective, sometimes from that of a different character. The spinster educator and missionary Barbie Batchelor is the protagonist. Her relationships with the dowager Mabel Layton, and Mabel's stepson's chilly wife Mildred Layton, are wonderfully lim [...]
This book is the third one of the series The Raj Quartet.Some historical background which is important in order to follow the plot:Pankot, Barbie Batchlor's new home:Page 50: Gandhi's quit India resolution (Quit India Movement), August 14th, 1942.Page 100: Subhas Chandra Bose takes the leadership of the Indian National Army.Page 284: e defeat of the Japanese attempt to invade India at ImphalThe plot is set in Pankot which is a "second class" hill station in the province which serves as a headqua [...]
This is the third book in The Raj Quartet, and I found it the most complex so far. It does not pick up where the last one left off, but begins at a point in time even before the first book. More importantly, there’s a shift in perspective: we’re now in the life of Barbie Batchelor, a peripheral character in The Day of the Scorpion. The Quartet has been told from multiple perspectives from the very beginning, but Paul Scott’s mastery particularly shines through with Barbie. Usually when boo [...]
In 2013, on the recommendation of Eva Brann, I read the first book in the Raj Quartet, The Jewel in the Crown. In 2016, I finally finished the second in the series The Day of the Scorpion and today I completed book 3, The Towers of Silence, which took me about a year to read. I can hardly wait to start the final installment A Division of the Spoils. There are novels you read because they are thumping good reads and there are novels you read because they give you a sense of time and place. The Ra [...]
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, [...]
Impossibly beautiful, tragic, urgent, moving, ecstatic, its frustrating bits of war reportage and historical minutiae included. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING on the British in India comes even close - hell, who cares about the British in India, this is about the human condition as a whole, and very little comes close there too. I could not read the closing pages, I could not bear to let this work end.
A key to unlocking The Towers of Silence, Paul Scott's third installment of the Raj Quartet, is none other than the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, who opined that the individual is the portal to history.That is unless the reader would rather choose entry through the towers of silence used by the Parsees (a Zoroastrian community that fled Muslim conquering of Persia) during their funeral rights to lay their deceased out for the vultures to feast on. Either way, the infinite land of Sco [...]
It's not far from the truth to say that I am entirely surrounded by water books. But over the last couple days, I've been feeling restless and enervated, reading-wise. I feel like I already knew all the books that I have, even the ones that I haven't read.I started reading this one because I felt like since I knew nothing about the author, the genre, or the time period (the last days of English rule of India), I had no idea what to expect and could be surprised, or at least not-bored.Was I not-b [...]
This book primarily focuses on women. The European females who populated the earlier volumes, peripherally or otherwise (the sisters, for instance, and deaf Aunt Mabel), are seen, as they unwittingly shed their British heritage, through the eyes of Barbie, a sexless, spinster missionary, entering their circles of life in rural India as she reaches the end of her own. And as the raj likewise crumbles around them, and WW2 ravages on, dominating the outside world and stealing men periodically from [...]
This is the third instalment of Scott’s Raj Quartet. I must admit to a little confusion when I started the book. I was pretty sure I’d not read it, but the story seemed very familiar. At least, it sort of did. And when the narrative referred to something I remembered clearly from an earlier book in the quartet, but here it all happened off-stage, I realised that Scott was covering ground previously described but this time from different characters’ viewpoints. So, for example, when Sarah L [...]
Very over-written and frenzied. My interest was sustained for about 200 pages, and then I gave up. Paul Scott is a writer of some talent for sure. He is perceptive and etches out characters well. But the whole thing just gets tiresome after a point. Scott tends to overload you with information where words seem to tumble on each other. It gets exhausting even with its merits.
Love this series. As always so many different pieces of the story tie together in unexpected ways and an ending that draws me to the next book in the series. I am sure that I am missing so many things that Scott alludes to in the story. This is one series that I think I will enjoy a reread.
"The Raj Quartet" should be read in order. This is the third of 4.
Thanks once again, Paul Scott, for a wonderful read! Good story-telling remains intact, no matter the passage of years.
"The Raj Quartet" is basically an updating of the kind of sprawling, society-describing epic 19th century writers were so fond of: the Palliser novels, say. The difference is that Scott, influenced by the modernist trends of the 20th century, is far less concerned about plot than the Thackerays and Trollopes were. When Trollope describes the state of English politics, he does it through the plot arcs of his characters, MPs, ministers, and PMs who rise on Reform and fall on the Irish question. By [...]
It's WWII, in India, and Ghandi Is just getting started. Thus, politics between Indians and the meddling English living there are heating up. Barbie Batchelor gets "retired" from the mission school she is superintending. With no family to go live with, either in India or England, she answers an ad to share a home with another elderly woman who has a house in Pankot, a fictional English"station" in the hills where the meddling English go with their families and servants during the hottest part of [...]
So this one wasn't was good as the first two. I think this is partly because Paul Scott chose to tell most of the story from the point of view of Barbie Batchelor, the character who interested me the least from the previous novel. As was already clear from the beginning of the first novel, Jewel in the Crown, Scott is a great writer, but he is weakest when he is writing older religious women. He treats them with condescension, which is irritating, but I couldn't even get myself irritated enough [...]
The title of the book refers to the Zoroastrian tradition that is followed by the Parsee's where the dead are not buried but are rather placed on elevated platforms to be picked clean by vultures. It is an apt title that foreshadows the end of an era and the impending end of the British Raj. From the stone that is thrown at Teddie Bingham's car on the day of the wedding, it foeshadows the fates of the characters which coincides with the decline of the Raj which culminates with the death of Teddi [...]
A good read for people who love the Raj. Out and out a book about a small piece of life in the Raj.The book is about a lady who has retired as the Superintendent of a school Ms. Barbara Batchelor and is on the lookout for a place to stay when she finds an advertisement for a Paying Guest with a widow in one of the cantonments. The book is set during the time the World War is fought.She replies and gets a positive response saying she should come and try it out as a three week vacation and if they [...]
Paul Scott wrote an amazing historical fiction quartet set in India during WWII. This is the third book and it is told mostly from the POV of Barbara Batchelor, a retired English missionary teacher. She rents a room in Pankot. Here we see the female side of society in British India where your position is based on your husband's rank or civil job. We see a range of attitudes towards the "natives" from paternalistic to explotive. The English women have no idea how to relate to educated, high ranki [...]
Once again, Paul Scott, in his epic saga of the final years of the British Raj in India, presents events previously depicted from yet another perspective, providing further insights and nuances about these characters and their lives. It gets its title from the Parsi Towers of Silence where the Zoroastrian community lays out the bodies of their dead for for excarnation, i.e. they are left to be picked clean by vultures. It's hard to imagine a more fitting symbol for a dying empire. Scott crafted [...]
This novel centers on Barbie Batchelor, the retired missionary played by Peggy Ashcroft in TV miniseries The Jewel in the Crown.Again, the events in book 1 of the Raj Quartet are rehashed at length, as this time we have to follow along as Barbie learns about the attacks on Miss Crane and Daphne Manners, and ruminate on them. And many of the newer events of book 2 (The Day of the Scorpion) are reiterated, this time from Barbie's POV. It's probably only because of my fond memories of the miniserie [...]
I have not read Books 1 or 2 in the series. This one read well without having to wade through the previous books.A strong book focusing on the impact of war on the wives, daughters and companions of the British Army at Pankot. Well developed characters and there is no doubt there was a lot of people full of their own importance who were willing to live in India to help maintain the Empire.I was a bit mystified by the main character of Mrs Bachelor, who came to live in Pankot after her retirement [...]
I was ready to give this book only four stars, because it began slowly and seemed to go over a lot of material from the previous novels (I couldn't imagine that anyone would pick up this book without having read the others). And then, somewhat to my surprise, it seemed to go over much of the same material again, only from different viewpoints, including that of an aging spinster and missionary, also from the standpoint of Susan Layton, who is the most interesting character in the series. So this [...]
This series keeps getting better. Most of the same protagonists, but this time the focus is on Barbara Batchelor (I'm not sure of spelling since I listened). I'm not sure if she was mentioned in one of the two first books; if so, not much. As I listened, I realized that the English community in India at that time was insular enough so that people were pretty aware of any gossip about others in their group even though distant. So although the characters directly involved with the Bibi Gar inciden [...]
A wonderful read. If you are interested in India and its relationship with the British during World War II and if you are willing to read this book slowly to savor the beautiful writing and the tragedy, irony and biting humor then I highly recommend it. I have read the first 2 books of the Raj Quartet and also found them fascinating. Having seen the PBS mini-series "The Jewel in the Crown", based on these books, I have a picture in my mind of all of the characters and the general lay of the land [...]