The first volume in Paul Scott's historical tour-de-force opens in 1942 as the British fear both Japanese invasion and Indian demands for self-rule. In the Mayapore gardens, Daphne Manners, daughter of the provincial governor, leaves her Indian lover, who will soon be arrested for her alleged rape.
Listen to all four titles in the Raj Quartet.
©2010 Paul Scott (P)2010 Random House
“An artful triumph...[The Jewel in the Crown] goes forward with considerable power and urgency....Besides storytelling, Mr. Scott uses his remarkable techniques to portray a place and a time, a society and its social arrangements, that are now history.” (The New Yorker)
If you don't already know this wonderful quartet of novels, you have a treat in store. Splendid richness of historical setting and character. Paul Scott's writing is strong enough to overcome almost any flaws in narration. But he deserves better than this. The narrator speaks clearly enough, but his emotional range is often little wider than that of a talking clock, and all the characters have the same voice. Several days' worth of listening to his performance is a qualified pleasure. So, check the sample audio before you spend your eight credits. Let's hope that a narrator more sympathetic to the drama will take this great task on.
Narrative makes the world go round.
What you get: Great characters and setting, revealing history woven into an engrossing narrative. It's delivered in what I think of as the older "books on tape" style of reading rather than the more currently popular interpretive narration style. At first I reacted as another reviewer: Is the quartet --a dry listen --worth 8 credits (9 counting Scott's "Staying On"), but by the end of pt 1 of Jewel, I decided it would be. Jewel starts with a traditional narrative but the narrative is moved forward with a series of linked reports, interviews and letters, so the narration style "suits."
Narrated in a more interpretive style, I think it would be a different novel. Both options would be great listens, but different. The present made for relaxing listening with frequent pauses for reflection on a character or the meaning in a change of point of view. It wasn???t a listen to keep me on my exercise bike longer than usual or to have in the background for house chores, but it was great listening for unwinding before bed -- so I will keep wagering double credits on the series.
I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
I am a book editor, and I'm forever reminding my clients to show and not tell their story. I tell them to inhabit a point-of-view character rather than be an omniscient observer, a literary technique that is out of vogue. I instruct them that all narrative must come from within the story rather than outside it, from the storyteller.
Paul Scott's novel tells the story a majority of the time, the point of view is not consistent, and the narrator is often the voice. Listening to this book should have irritated the heck out of me, but it didn't. I loved it.
Scott writes beautifully, and he includes unusual, telling details. Sometimes he breaks a moment down into tiny increments, which allowed me to draw a distinct picture in my mind of what was transpiring.
Richard Brown delivers an outstanding performance. His voice is that of a highly educated Brit, but he nailed the characters from India. Their dialogue never sounded singsong. He was adept at not spilling over the accents into the narrative or, when two characters, a Brit and and Indian, were talking to each other, he always delineated them. The accents didn't bleed into each other (as they are doing now, in Volume II, with a different narrator).
My attention never lagged. I really enjoyed this listening experience, and I am committed to listening to all the volumes in the Raj Quartet.
The narration was not easy on my ear, I had to stop listening. The most valuable comment I can make is to listen to a sample before you buy, and make sure that you like the voice. I thought it took a lot away from the story, and made it all seem emotionally the same. It's a great set of novels, but a better reader would help a lot. I was already familiar with the novels, this was not my first exposure, so deciding to quit listening was OK, the voice simply didn't appeal to me at all.
I thought when I made the purchase that this would be, if not the complete Raj Quartet, at least a start at the beginning, not just the second part.
The reader's tone got on my nerves.
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