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Heat and Dust Paperback – May 1989

4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Paperback, May 1989
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; New edition edition (May 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0582017319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0582017313
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11.9 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,042,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


'A superb book. A complex story line, handled with dazzling assurance ... moving and profound. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala has not only written a love story, she has also exposed the soul and nerve ends of a fascinating and compelling country. This is a book of cool, controlled brilliance. It is a jewel to be treasured' -- The Times 'A writer of genius ... a writer of world class -- a master storyteller' -- Sunday Times 'Coolly assured novel ... Written with seek elegance, this book delves into the heart of an unmistakably seductive country' -- The Good Book Guide 20031101 'Her tussle with India is one of the richest treats of contemporary literature' -- Guardian 20031101 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala was born in Germany of Polish parents and came to England in 1939 at the age of twelve. She graduated from Queen Mary College, London University, and married an architect. They lived in Delhi from 1951 to 1975. Since then they have divided their time between Delhi, New York and London. As well as her numerous novels and short stories, in collaboration with James Ivory and Ismail Merchant Ruth Prawer Jhabvala has written scripts for film and television, including A Room with a View and Howards End, both of which are Academy Award winners. She won the Booker Prize for Heat and Dust in 1975, the Neil Gunn International Fellowship in 1978, the MacArthur Foundation Award in 1984 and was made a CBE in the 1998 New Year's Honours List. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
Shortly after Olivia went away with the Nawab, Beth Crawford returned from Simla. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's powerful and beautifully written novel of an "outrageous" Anglo-Indian romance in 1920s Khatm and Satipur won the Booker Prize in 1983. The author has crafted parallel tales of two young women, distantly related and separated by two generations. Anne, the story's narrator, travels to India to discover more about the mystery surrounding her grandfather's first wife, Olivia.
Douglas Rivers, an upper echelon English civil servant, married and brought his adored wife, Olivia, with him to India in 1923, during the British Raj. She was a beautiful, spoiled and spirited young woman, who found it difficult to adjust to life in the British colonial community of Satipur. Feeling suffocated by the inbred group she was forced to socialize with, Olivia longed for independence, intellectual stimulation and a more passionate life. She hoped that a baby would solve her problems but found it more difficult to become pregnant than she had thought. Shortly after their arrivel in India, Douglas, Olivia and some of the more important members of the community were invited to the palace of the Nawab of Khatm and she was immediately intrigued by the handsome, charismatic prince. He courted her friendship aggressively and then the friendship turned passionate. When faced with a crisis Olivia was forced to make life altering decisions which would have far reaching effects and cause scandal throughout British India and England that would last for generations.
Anne stays in the town where her grandfather and Olivia lived fifty years before. Trying to piece together the puzzle that was Olivia and discover what motivated her to change her life so drastically, Anne visits the places her "step-grandmother" frequented and interviews people who knew her or knew of her.
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Format: Paperback
The cover of this book is a little deceptive. The cover artist has painted a colorful picture of an Indian market place, complete with lots of nice green grass. This is definitely a romanticized and wishful picture of India while the real picture of India lies in the name of the book: HEAT AND DUST. If you're planning a trip to India, expect heat and dust.
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala has written this book with the most beautiful prose. She doesn't just tell a story; she becomes a part of her story and brings the reader along with her.
This short novel takes place mainly in British imperialist India. Olivia is an English wife which is wooed and seduced by a very charasmatic Indian prince during the boring heat of the day while her husband is away at work. The Indian prince, Nawab, seems to cast a spell on everyone around him. People shirk their responsibilities and forsake the ones they love in order to bask in his adoration.
When Olivia's step-granddaughter learns of Olivia's romantic adventures in India through old letters, she is determined to go to India and find out all she can about Prince Nawab and the whirlwind affair he had with Olivia. The novel is written from the viewpoint of the step- granddaughter during her time in modern India.
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala tempts when she writes. She sets the reader up with a hint of sensual suspense that drives the novel to the end. The reader finishes the novel, satisfied.
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Format: Paperback
I needn't repeat the story here--very briefly, the author creates two women's lives, one the wife of a British colonial officer in the 1920's, the other his grand niece who returns to India 50 years later to unravel the mystery of Olivia, the officer's wife who ran away with an Indian prince. To understand the historical background, it helps to know that British India was in fact governed in two ways--the British controlled part of the country directly, but at least half of India was still under the rule of Indian princes, who were granted an allowance by the British who expected them to maintain order in their states. The Nawab was one of these princes.
From a historical point of view the novel was fascinating in describing the lives of the British as the Empire disintegrated--their kindly arrogance, their isolation from the people, the idleness of their families. No wonder Olivia was lured away! And the Nawab's life was worse--we see him resorting to crime and extortion to maintain his luxurious life-style as ethnic conflict swirls around him.
This work won the Booker prize. But from a novelistic point of view it left me unsatisfied. Rather improbably, the two women follow paralell paths, each becoming pregnant as a result of affairs with Indian men. Olivia ends up sequestered in a house maintained for her by the Nawab in the mountains--it seems that she is totally alone, not even having a relationship with him. Douglas' niece also ends up heading toward the mountains, but to a very different kind of life, one that promises spiritual and personal fulfillment.
Is she "redeeming" Olivia's life through her different choices? Has she made peace with India, in contrast to Olivia, who let it destroy her? Perhaps this is the rather clumsy point.
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Format: Paperback
Jhabvala's book, Heat and Dust, is set India, in two eras - the 1920's and the 1970's. The two time periods are brought together through the narrator. She has journeyed to India to research the life of her grandfather's first wife, Olivia, who left him to marry an Indian prince. The narrator chronicles her own Indian adventures while telling the reader what she has learned of Olivia. The device of using the journal is very well done, and allows the reader to see how the lives of these two women intersect in very profound ways.
The descriptions of India throughout the book in both eras were amazing and very evocative, both of the individual eras and of the landscape.
While technically very well written, I did not find the book fully enjoyable. I did not feel as though the characters of either of the two women were fully fleshed out, and I found this distracting throughout the book. Many of the minor characters were even less well developed, and this made them seem like little more than stereotypes.
While not the best book I have read recently, it is short and a quick read, and worth the time.
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