When The Far Pavilions was first published 19 years ago, it moved the critic Edmund Fuller to write this: "Were Miss Kaye to produce no other book, The Far Pavilions might stand as a lasting accomplishment in a single work comparable to Margaret Mitchell's achievement in Gond With the Wind." From its beginning in the foothills of the towering Himalayas, M. M. Kaye's masterwork is a vast, rich, and vibrant tapestry of love and war that ranks with the greatest panoramic sagas of modern fiction.
The Far Pavilions is itself a Himalayan achievement, a book we hate to see come to an end. it is a passionate, triumphant story that excites us, fills us with joy, move us to tears, satisfies us deeply, and helps us remember just what it is we want most from a novel.
©1978 M.M. Kaye (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
This book is altogether, a gripping adventure, and a story about conflicting personal identity. I first read this book over twenty years ago and remembered it as one of my all time favorites. I was shocked to discover no reviews had been written for this wonderful novel. If you decide to listen to this book you will not disappointed. The descriptions of India are breath-taking and rival the tales of that country written by Bryce Courtenay. Surprisingly, listening to the audio version was better than reading it. The Indian accents used in the narration made it utterly enjoyable. It is the story of an English boy born to a father who studies the people and dialects found in the foothills of the Himalayas. He becomes orphaned during a cholera outbreak around age 4 and has only an Indian nurse to aid him in his survival. It is a huge book but worth every page and not difficult to get through. The Far Pavilions is simply one of the best epic novels ever written. There is a ghastly description of the practice of Suttee; the burning alive of high born Hindu women on their husband's funeral pyre. But it is not too descriptive and gives a fascinating glimpse into the practice of Suttee. If you like tales of heroism, adventure, cruelty, survival, and love, you will not be disappointed.
I had seen this book in a Showtime mini-series portrayal back in 1984. It's offered now on Netflix, and I revisited it again after purchasing the audible book. It is a great story, either way, and I can't say that one was better than the other.
As it is in many book-to-movie transitions, some key elements are left out and the timeline is altered. The book was lovely, just lovely until the rescue of Anjuli from the suttee ritual. The storyline is so much more fleshed out, and I was just swept away to 1860s India. The narrator had much to do with this. His wonderful Indian accent was seamless and so real. He even spoke the women's parts so believably. Charming all the way through.
However, I did find the book rather tedious after the rescue. It seemed to drag on. I think that the mini-series did a better job incorporating all the Afghanistan fighting before the rescue. I have to admit I played it at 2x speed a couple of times, because I really wanted to know what happened, I just didn't want to experience every bloody blow in real time. I will read it again in the future, because the narration was so good, the forbidden romance was so good, and Ash's back story, which was quite skimmed over in the mini-series, was very interesting.
Ultimate love story
The Princess Bride, love against impossible odds.
LoL...if I could stay awake that long
You will fall in love with the rich description of India. You will see it through the eyes of Ashton Martin and the hills and palaces will be almost real. You will watch a character develope into a man, fall in love and fight almost impossible odds. The wars, caste system, bravery, and loyalty make it an adventurous read. Ashton and Anjulie's love make it unforgettable. It is to this day my favorite book, and I've read a lot of books.
I didn't realize until after finishing this book, that in 1984 it was made into a tv mini series starring Ben Cross, in 2005 a musical, and in 2011 a radio drama for Britian's BBC. The author used her personal childhood experiences and parts of her grandfather's biography to create this memorable masterpiece. I'm now searching for another book to fill it's shoes, no luck yet. I might have to listen again.
It takes place during the British Raj (British domination) in India. Ash was born Ashton Pelham-Martyn to two British citizens living in India shortly before the Indian Rebellion of 1857. By the time he's a toddler, both are deceased and he's left alone with only his Hindu nanny, Sita, to care for him. She disguises him as Hindu to basically save his life. After Sita dies, he becomes Ashton once again and the story deepens as does his life. Sit back and get ready to go on this "page turning" adventure with this impulsive young man who wears his heart on his sleeve, upholds fairness and justice in all he encounters while he thumbs his nose at authority, periodically. His love for a princess from his childhood, Anjuli, eventually becomes his driving force. She's a lucky girl, and you'll see why..
The book is an education in British-Indian history interlaced with love, friendship, loyality,
race, religion, bigotry, racism, a look into Indian royality, and the caste system. Don't be overwhelmed by the many characters and their names. Don't be afraid to rewind. I really don't think you'll mind. The narrator was great, but I wasn't that swept with the female voices. It wasn't enough to detract from the book however. It is one I'll remember and recommend.
I read this book years ago when if first came out and liked it then. Rereading, listening to it on Audible, prompted me to pick the book up again as well.
I have recomended this book to a number of people who have no knowledge of "The Great Game" and it's relevance to the events of the last ten years in the former Raj.
The story is one third romance, one third adventure, and one third serious history of the Second Afgan War. I have read quotes from a number of British officers from that war that sound like they could have been made today.
The narrator! I'm in love! He can do thrilling, scary, tender, political, introspective or descriptive scenes and make you feel you're there--in the scene and in the character's mind. His accents are great and he does both male and female voices well.
The book! I'm in love with the book, too! It has everything--adventure, intrigue, romance, philosophy, character. I particularly like novels that contain truth and beauty in addition to a well-told story. This novel is about the need of humankind for unity instead of prejudice, and it winds it's way to that truth in beautiful descriptions as well as a gripping storyline. Only once or twice did I guess what was going to happen next; mostly I was surprised, which I liked.
The value placed on characters with moral virtue.
No, but now I will! Please ask him to narrate A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry--he would be perfect!
49 hours was not long enough for this book. I would have been happy if it went on for another 49. I'm so sad that it ended, but so glad that I listened to it.
As with other listeners, the long battle scenes at the end were not my favorite part of the book, but they were still good. They kept my interest, in fact, better than the long battle scenes near the end of War and Peace (which I read years ago and have not yet listened to). I was a little surprised that a female author wrote such involved battle scenes, in fact, but maybe that's why I found them a bit more palatable than I find battle scenes in general.
Overall, this book is beautiful, wise, and occasionally funny. It is also much like real life in the sense that it shows people picking their way through the entanglements of their relationships and society, making good choices and bad ones since they cannot see into the future, and taking the consequences of all their choices. It demonstrates the importance of integrity, honesty, compassion and tolerance. Thankfully we don't all have to brave danger and intrigue at every turn like the characters in this book (we do, but not at the life-and-death level), but we do all have to suffer through our tests in life and come out the other end with wisdom and compassion instead of bitterness and selfishness, so in that sense the story mirrored reality and was uplifting at the same time.
Maybe I should study archetypes a little more because I noticed that Ashok/Ashton was very much like Harry Potter in that his impulsivity gets him into trouble but his good character gets him out again, and Anjuli is much like Dorothea in Middlemarch in that her tolerance, patience and kindness get her into trouble because they carry naiveté with them, but as she continues to think about what she sees, she becomes wise enough to make better decisions for herself. I wonder if there are more such characters out there in the literary world because they're in all of us. Just a thought...
I read this once, long ago, and remembered loving it. I keep an eye out for M. M. Kaye on audible and was really excited to see this become available. I was worried that I had built the novel up in my head and wouldn't enjoy it as much the second time around, but my fears were completely unfounded. Gripping, well-written main story, interesting time period as a backdrop and great narration. You won't be sorry.
It took nearly 5 months, but I have finally finished this epic tale of star-crossed lovers searching for a place to belong, set amid the political intrigues, cruelties and hubris of the British Raj. At almost 49 hours, it's by far the longest audiobook I've yet tackled. Narrator Vikas Adam was an expert guide, and much of the story had me utterly captivated. But this novel had a couple of glaring flaws that kept me from giving it 5 stars (although, in the end, it did seem to add up to more than the sum of its parts).
I will leave a detailed recounting of the plot to other reviewers. At the heart of the story is the struggle of Ashton Pelham Martin, born British but raised Indian, to reconcile the two halves of himself. His beloved, Anjuli, gives the book its soul. A neglected Indian princess, she too is "half caste," valued solely for the emotional support she gives her spoiled, volatile younger sister, Shushila. The same intolerance and prejudice that makes both Ash and Juli outcasts in their own country, places seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the path of their love.
The story managed to have both a breathtaking scope - sweeping from the Himalayas to the parched deserts of India and back again to the Hindu Kush - and a remarkable intimacy, revealing the private inner lives of a huge cast of characters. The novel highlighted how people find both comfort and frustration in cultural customs and traditions. They give human beings a place to belong while simultaneously limiting and stifling them.
Despite all of the other compelling characters, Ash and Juli's saga was so central to the book's emotional core that the story lost its way when its focus shifted to the Second Afghan War and the ill-fated British mission to Kabul. Try as I might, I was not as engrossed in the fate of Lt. Walter Hamilton, Ash's best friend, especially as both Ash and Juli were relegated to the role of bystanders. The final quarter of the book dragged, taking me a few weeks to finish. I wish M.M. Kaye had used that section as the basis for a second book, rather than trying to shoehorn it into Ash and Juli's story.
The key figures in the siege against the British mission were based on real people. Therefore, the story seemed unnecessarily padded in this final section, as if Kaye were just marking time to arrive at the major historical events. Throughout the book, she also showed a weakness for heavy-handed foreshadowing, to the point I could predict major plot twists long before they happened. In the final quarter, she beat the reader over the head with it, until I was almost relieved to finally reach the end (where I felt Ash and Juli's story was wrapped up too hastily).
However, the book's many strengths made it compelling and worthwhile, and I'll probably listen to or read the story again someday. Vikas Adam was an extraordinary narrator, giving consistent, distinctive voices to all of the characters. I especially loved how he used different accents for Ash, depending on whether he was thinking or speaking in English or in an Indian dialect.
History, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy
This book really does have it all but spends more than it's fair share of time with the tensions brought on by the British influence in India and Pakistan and not enough time in my opinion revealing the very interesting and rich cultures of the region. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of grand descriptive prose here but it leans heavily on the military aspects. By the time you finish this book you feel that you may have traversed from Bombay to the Hindu Kush and back again yourself. It is exhausting, it is huge, and it is definitely written richly and beautifully for the indulgent and appreciative reader/listener. It is a marvel.
"Lovely story. Shame about the narration!!!"
I have known and loved this story for more than twenty years. Despite misgivings about the sound of the story when I listened to the excerpt, I went ahead and bought this title because I just wanted it to be all right.
Oh, dear. Why, oh why use someone of Indian origin (fine and appropriate) but with an American accent(!) to read a story of an English boy raised as an Indian in the aftermath of the Great Mutiny, then sent to England to be educated as his father's son, returning to India as an English army officer? The narrator just sounds so wrong whenever he speaks as an English person.....there are so many American-style mispronunciations to an English ear (Torquay = Torkway / Torkay; roan = rowan; subaltern = subALLtern; route = rout, etc., etc., etc...) and he has no idea at all of how well-spoken English people of the mid-19th century would have sounded. For example, poor Wally, who we are told lapsed into "occasional use of brogue", comes over as comic 'Oirish' every time he opens his mouth. Admittedly, I now know that 'Zarin' shoul be pronounced as 'Zareen', but that is not enough to make up for all the cringing I am doing as I listen.Such a shame!
"Wonderful book, beautifully read"
This is a wonderful story set in India at the time of the 1857 Mutiny. It is an epic story of romance, love, war and friendship which you will find hard to put down, and even harder to forget. I have read this many times but this is the first time I have been able to listen to it as an audiobook, and I have not been disappointed. The reader - Vikas Adam - is excellent, bringing the story and characters to life.
I read this book when it first came out and really enjoyed it - so it was great to find it in a different format that I can now enjoy while at the gym. It's a long, long book but this simply means the opportunity to get more depth into the characters. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed!
"Excellent book pity about the pronunciation"
Yes, because the story transports you back in time to the Raj.
Ashok. Just watching him mature.
His pronunciation. For goodness sake the word Quayside was pronounced Kwayside instead of Keyside. Same with Torquey. Other words too many to mention. His voice did not reflect the depth of character of Ashok and others.
Would have enjoyed the book more with a different narrator.
"An epic story"
Fascinating, evocative, gripping
The escape from Bithor
This is a very long, sweeping saga that encompasses colonial India in a very nuanced way considering it's time.apart from some odd pronunciation errors the narration is excellent
"Magnificent - "unputdownable""
Wonderful story - quite gripping - and what a history lesson. Politicians should take note before they ever consider sending our troops into Afghanistan again - nothing there has changed!!
I was there - sitting on the characters shoulders, watching it all happen.
I read this book many years ago and was delighted to find it in the Audible collection. Really couldn't bare to stop listening and feel bereft now it is finished.
My only tiny gripe is the accents the American narrator tried poorly to emulate - his Irish accent was almost funny at times. I did get used to it though and it didn't spoil this fantastic story!
"Hours of listening pleasure"
I read this originally when it was published, so was happy to find it here, especially given its length and my upcoming holidays! It not only lasted over two weeks, but for another couple of weeks of commuting. The narrator did a pretty good job - although as others have commented, he did make a meal of some of the pronunciations, and his Wally accent was just cringe-worthy.
Its a great story, although if I am honest, I did find myself wishing for some shortening in places. It did prompt me to do some online reading about the region and the history though, to find out how much was true and how much was artistic license.
"An Epic Tale"
A wonderful story of India during the Raj the politics the backstabbing and intrigue all rolled into a tale of innocence danger love lost, love found, and love forbidden.Well read apart from a few misprenunciations eg Himalayas pronounced Him-Are-Lee-Has,but easily forgiven as you can think of the narrator as Ash himself.
"Outstanding work of historical fiction"
My first venture into the works of M M Kaye and I am hooked!
The storyline drew me in and kept me captivated for the most part (some sections could have been shortened but this is nit-picking). I found myself rooting for the main characters in the sense that I wanted them to succeed in their endeavours. There are multiple layers of thought going on through the book mainly to do with culture, differing attitudes, the right to impose systems on a foreign culture or not? Scenes of violence, isolation, wandering, death, destruction, with the thread of romance deftly woven so as not to be over infused.
Thoroughly enjoyed the narration by Vikas Adam
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