In 1923 the beautiful, spoiled, and bored Olivia, married to Douglas and his career in the Indian Civil Service, outrages the English and Indian communities by eloping with an Indian prince. Fifty years later, Douglas’s granddaughter, armed with Olivia’s letters, goes back to the heat and dust and squalor of the bazaars to find out for herself how Olivia could have been so affected by India that she turned her back on her own country.
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RUTH PRAWER JHABVALA was the author of twenty books. She was the recipient of Booker Prize, a MacArthur fellowship, and has been honored with an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Jhabvala's screenplays for Merchant-Ivory Productions earned two Academy Awards. She passed away in 2013.Review:
Heat and Dust views India through the lives of two English women living fifty years apart. Olivia is the first wife of an English government official assigned to India in the 1920s. The unnamed narrator the story is the young granddaughter of the same official by a later wife who, intrigued by family rumors about Olivia, travels to India seeking answers to Olivia's mysterious existence. How, in a segregated society, did Olivia meet an Indian prince of questionable character, and why did she leave her husband for him? What happened to her afterwards? As the narrator stays in the town where Olivia lived and visits places that influenced Olivia's life, we witness India's past through Olivia's letters and journals and the narrator's imagination. For Olivia, removed from the day-to-day existence of the Indian people, India "was like being not in a different part of this world but in another world altogether, in another reality." In contrast, the narrator sublets a room that shares a courtyard with an Indian family and learns much about their life. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala shows us both pre- and post-independent India, exposing the similarities and differences of India's impact on each of these women. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Holly Smith
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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0140237046