Dr Aziz is a young Muslim physician in the British Indian town of Chandrapore. One evening he comes across an English woman, Mrs Moore, in the courtyard of a local mosque; she and her younger travelling companion Adela are disappointed by claustrophobic British colonial culture and wish to see something of the 'real' India. But when Aziz kindly offers to take them on a tour of the Marabar caves with his close friend Cyril Fielding, the trip results in a shocking accusation that throws Chandrapore into a fever of racial tension.
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This audio book has lived up to my expectation for it. I had found it a difficult book to read so have enjoyed the experience of having it read to me. Sam Dastor does an amazing job of reading all the different characters.
There's a reason why books are classics. To quote Wikipedia, "A Passage to India" "was selected as [25th] of the 100 great works of English literature by the Modern Library and ...Time magazine included the novel in its...100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005." It's a novel inextricably bound up in the time and place of colonial India, yet absolutely timeless in its compassionate insights into the human character. The meaning of the title may be understood on many different levels. The skillful narration enriches the listening experience. I would give this book 10 stars if I could--it stands in a category by itself. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
There is a problem with the sound quality on this version of the book. It begins in chapter 2 & is very intrusive. I'd advise bypassing this version until Audible can get a quality recording.
As with all EM Forsters works, the language and descriptions took me to another time and place. Whilst some of the reading was a little too heavily accented to be pleasant listening the reading style in general was perfect, languid where necessary, excited as needed to convey this wonderful novel. The underlying political message was not lost.
I am a fiber artist and teacher. I love moderate action, plot twists, diverse characters and much romance.
I think if I had tried to read this book in print, I would not have gotten very far, or I would have glossed over many parts, which are actually a significant part of the education, while searching for the evasive plot-line. Luckily, it was well enough narrated that I was kept relatively attentive throughout. I learned quite a bit about the time period and situations of British Rule and the emergence of self-identity in the ever diverse world of India during the early 20th century. I'm sure E.M. Forster would agree that no one book can cover even all of a small portion of Indian life and history thoroughly, but this was an enjoyable enough start.
E. M. Forster's haunting masterpiece is given a poor performance here.
The passages of narration are fine, but character voices are exaggerated to the point of caricature. It is impossible to take them seriously. Yet this is the antithesis of the wonderfully "round" characterization at which Forster so excelled.
Find another performance or read the book in print rather than listening to this version.
Quintessential modernist text--Forester deals artfully with British colonialism in India, managing to paint both the Indians and the English sympathetically. Most of the characters are full and dynamic. Anchoring the story in the friendship of Mrs. Moore (an elderly woman) and Dr. Aziz (a widower) begins the story's exploration of the power of relationships and the difficulty of forming and sustaining "intimate" relationships. A Passage to India is a moving story the lure of power and about the difficulty of knowing another.
Howard's End--just another excellent Forster text, dealing with some of the same issues of disconnectedness.
When Aziz first met Mrs. Moore.
A quest for identity set in the heat and beauty of India...
The narrator's heavy Indian accent that he applied to the various characters was VERY hard to understand. For that reason I didn't finish the book
Certainly a well written book! And the audio book works only to complement the work. I enjoyed listening, and additionally, listening to the golden voiced Englishman voice elderly English women, in addition to older Indian men always brought a grin to my face. Describing the audiobook in one word, the word engaging comes to mind. This has piqued my interest in audiobooks, and I can not emphasize how well this example did to forge that interest.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
The reputation of this book misled me into thinking it centered around Miss Quested's court case. Seen from that viewpoint and the detestable Miss Quested, the book is annoying in that peculiarly Forster-ish way. But seen as the friendship between Aziz and Fielding, the book becomes something else: one of those rare books that trace the building of a friendship between two people. I have a few issues with Mr. Forster. His depictions of romantic relationships don't even attempt to be convincing. His depictions of social prejudice and injustice are laid on as thickly as the coarsest caricatures. His attempts to treat characters fairly who have a different viewpoint from his own come across as...well, as attempts to express a viewpoint he really fails to grasp. And his female protagonists, especially Miss Quested, lack all pretense at being sympathetic. That said, Forster has enough good points to keep me interested. He periodically will punctuate his narrative with a profound aside expressing something unutterably beautiful about the world and the human condition. His patience in allowing the Aziz/Fielding friendship to simmer in the background while all the foreground actions dominated the majority of the book is simply masterful.
I also have to give Forster credit for some very prescient remarks about the future of India and England. And while I may cavil about the prejudices of some of his characters, Forster is dead on at how people tend to form ranks and polarize themselves into opposing camps at the cost of truth, justice, peaceful coexistence, etc.
Sam Dastor does a terrific job distinguishing all the different characters with their differing social and class backgrounds. And while I'm sure he did not intend it, he made it exceedingly easy to hate Miss Quested.
"India is not a drawing room....."
Here’s another one that I first read as part of my degree just about thirty years ago, that has again only improved with age and expanded context. I’ve always enjoyed Forster as ‘comfort reading’ and his novels are the ones that I turn to again and again with Hardy and Maugham.
The strongest impression on this re-reading, is what a terrible state Imperialist Britain was - and what an awful set of people it put in place and maintained. Forster’s observations are very sharp and well defined. The critics now seem to set up the homosexual sensitivity against the feminist perspective and modern reviewers are always drawn to observe that the women portrayed in India come out particularly badly. However, there is absolute consistency in Forster’s observations on the dreadful male characters - all ‘of a sort’ but with a real insight which was ahead of its time.
The notion that “all of the uprisings in colonial India have the linking theme which one can only attribute to the Jews” is particularly execrable - and one which came leaping out of the page on this reading.
I loved the book but hated the sentiments it portrayed - and given that Forster was writing in 1924 whilst maintaining a seat at the heart of the Establishment is his really wonderful achievement. It is a book that needs to be read when young and must be enjoyed when older - one of the best achievements of English literature and deservedly part of the central cannon.
"Such a rewarding choice"
A marvellous reading of a favourite book. The narrator brings the many different characters - Indian, English and Anglo-Indian; Hindu, Muslim, Christian and atheist- vividly to life. I had forgotten how very interesting,moving and funny this book is.
I can't believe it's taken me this long! It is an exceptional book. That being said, I could not have fully appreciated had I been any younger.
It is so well written, really gets into the complexities and emotions of people. Even characters you don't like much are three dimensional so you can see their point of view- even if you don't agree with them. For such a large book not much happens- but the words are so wonderful it doesn't matter. A brilliant performance- so well read. I can't praise it enough and will go on to read more of EM Forster.
"Don't overlook an older book..."
A not unsympathetic colonial perspective on India that shows how attitudes were not always as prejudiced as we may imagine whilst reminding us of the worst facets of British colonial racism.
His extraordinary ability to range between Indian and British accents
I imagined this would have been a lot fustier than it was.
Brilliant book that gives a subtle insight into India and even better performance by Sam Dastor!
A challenging novel, superbly narrated. Great writing brought to life with skill and sensitivity. Highly recommended.
"Unafraid lucid and humorous"
I wish I had discovered this writer many years ago, this story is so fresh and captivating and relevant. Who'dve guessed.....you maybe, I wasn't expecting such a lucid perspective on the British in India thing.
"Slow burning book showing colonial prejudices"
Yes, Sam was a great narrator
No, as the plot was very thin; very little happened, and the nuances are lost in this post colonial century. I'm sure it was relevant in its day, but feels incredibly dated.
I enjoyed Room with a View and Howard's End, but found that I rarely empathized with the characters in Passage to India, and a lot of them did seem fairly thin and one dimensional. It was difficult to finish, and a disappointment.
While the story is isn't page turning or something that kept me up in the small hours, the whole book feels beautifully observed. The detail is exquisite. I feel that I have been in India and felt a little how different a culture it is to the English culture and can see how easily misunderstandings arise when two cultures clash, no matter how honest the protagonists are.
Sam Dastor does an amazingly good job of reading this book. The skill of these actors! And its a masterpiece of a book too, bringing out the mysterious and maddening complexities of India at many levels.
As a good novel should, it gives you an understanding of the times and the people that you could never get from reading a travel guide or history book. But its not all plain sailing. Not much humour, the story is slow to get started and the plot could be outlined in a few short sentences. Yet somehow none of that matters.
In its treatment of the colonial British, the book is reminiscent of Orwell's first novel, Burmese Days, another excellent book which was written about the same time I believe.
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