The second novel in The Raj Quartet: the arrest by British police of Mohammed Ali Kasim, who is known to sympathise with the Quit India movement, signifies a further deterioration in Anglo-India relations.
For families such as the Laytons, who have lived and served in India for generations, the immediate social and political realities are both disturbing and tragic. With growing confusion and bewilderment, the British are forced to confront the violent and often brutal years that lie ahead.
Listen to all four titles in the Raj Quartet.
©2010 Paul Scott (P)2010 Random House
“Quite simply, monumental.” (The Washington Post)
Paul Scott's Raj Quartet series is a timeless classic about the British rule in India and its ignominious end. I enjoyed listening to the first volume so much that I bought the second without listening to a sample. Big mistake.
I have experienced my share of poor narrators on Audible but never ever anything as bad as this. The problem is not the narrator's ability but his voice, and the emotion it conveys. No matter what the narrator is saying, he always sounds snotty, arrogant and condescending. Even the most simple, factual sentences sound like scathing insults. What is even worse for this book is the fact that this narrator's voice is the epitome of everything that Paul Scott criticizes about the British rule in India. It is the voice of the narrow-minded, pig-headed, racist British upper class who despise everything and everyone that does not belong to their tiny elite club. It is the exact opposite of everything for which Paul Scott's wonderful work stands and speaks out. It is like having a production of the Diary of Anne Frank narrated by the voice of a German World War II radio newscaster.
Choosing Richard Brown to narrate this book is probably the most egregiously inappropriate decision in the entire history of audio book publishing. He manages to completely destroy it and its message.
I adore British literature from the Victorian Age through World war II, primarily, and fantasy, but also enjoy mysteries once in a while.
While I love all four volumes of The Raj Quartet, the introduction of the Layton's in this second volume adds enormously to the breadth and depth of the saga. Paul Scott's writing is exquisite and Richard Brown brings it to life...I truly feel in the midst of the story as I listen.
In particular I find Sarah Leyton to be one of the most compelling figures of English literature. She is uncomfortable with the aristoratic role of her family and the British ruling class and questions the role of Britain in India, just as the life of the British Raj is winding down. She is ever bit as thoughtful as Daphne Manners in the first volume (The Jewel in the Crown), but elects to be more conventional at times. Yet I admire her inner life and feel her frustrations in dealing with her sister and mother.
I can only say that I have re-listened to this book and the other three in the Raj Quartet too many times to count. I will keep coming back to the narration of this gem of a novel.
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