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11
3.7 out of 5 stars
Raj: A Novel
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on October 4, 1997
I enjoyed reading the "Raj". It is an impressive price of historical fiction that covers a very eventful period of Indian history. Mehta did an execellent job of painting a vivid and entertaining picture of Rajput kingdoms during the British rule in India. I was however, disappointed by the one dimentionality of the characters. The kings by and large seemed to fall into the stereotypical pleasure loving, wealth squandering lot that were obsessed with somehow hanging onto thier thrones. While this may be an accurate description of most of them, it would have been good to depict one or two positive aspects of the royals, if any! Jaya Devi's long suffering Indian princess character also sadly lacked dimentionality and did not evoke much sympathy or respect. I was also a little bit disappointed with the later part of the book that dealt with events leading upto the Indian indenpendence. It seemed a little rushed and I wish the author spent more time in describing the characters of the freedom fighters better. However, given the complexity of highly eventful period with the British, the Indian royalty and the freedom fighters, the author did a good job telling a compelling and educative narrative. On the whole, a recommended read.
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on February 21, 1997
The Maharajahs of India have been
relegated to a minor footnote in both
history and literature. This bestseller attempts to remedy that by telling
the story of Jaya Devi, the daughter
of the Maharajah of one kingdom
who marries the Prince of another.
Beautifully descriptive and evocative, the book is nevertheless rather disappointing as it never really gets off the ground. All the characters but Jaya appear flat and one-dimensional and, even more frustrating, Jaya herself never really grows up. We are left with an apology for India's imperial past, one that is lovingly and touchingly told but one that fails to seriously explore the issues. And when time rolls on and the tumult of Indian partition erupts, Jaya and her story fade far into the background. Mehta's narrative stutters through a cursory listing of events with little emotional impact. This Gone with the Wind of India's princely kingdoms could have done with a good editor. I encourage all those interested in India's past to read it, I just decry the lack of better alternatives.
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on October 17, 1999
I was drawn to this book by the period of time it covered, and because I am very interested in British history. I was further drawn by its historical depth, covering many events that very few Westerners outside of Britain have any knowledge of. I found little bias because it seemed there were two groups of main characters: those who were in support of royal India and those Indians and Angrez (British) who were in support of the Raj.
I somewhat agree with the prevailing criticism that the characterisation is a bit thin, but if you are reading this for its historical significance (as I did) as opposed to its literary worth, then it really shouldn't matter very much.
Overall, it is very well written book that examines the relationship between the maharajahs of royal India and the British Raj through the eyes of an Indian princess. In the vein of Rutherfurd's "Sarum" and "London," but not as broad and long-winded.
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on July 7, 2003
This novel reads as a chronicle, not only of Princess Jaya's life, but also of an India in transformation from the late 1800s up through the early years following Independence in 1947.
I enjoyed reading this book and found Princess Jaya to be a remarkable woman. She weathers a lot of trying experiences and shows herself to be resilient.
The only fault I found with the novel, however, was in the sequencing of historical events. For instance, some of what the author stated about the placing of some events during the First World War were not accurate. When I read a historical novel, I get a better appreciation for the novel when the historical events it describes are true and placed in the proper sequences. Perhaps for some other readers, that matters little. But for me, that took away from me giving this novel 5 stars.
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on January 11, 2002
I have to agree with those reviewers who said the book is slow moving. In fact, it's so slow that I never finished it! For that reason, my review may be limited in its usefulness, but I thought I would give my thoughts anyway. The main value of the book, as I saw it, is that it gives an insider's perspective on life in India. It's great for getting a feel for the Indian culture and mindset, and the views that Indians have toward the period of British rule.
However, after I had read about 7 chapters (50+ pages), it failed to keep my attention. It seemed that the author was just giving more and more background information. The reader is left waiting for some kind of plot or action to begin, but it never does. Maybe if I had read further my patience would have been rewarded; but unfortunately, I don't have that much patience.
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on May 13, 1998
I really enjoyed reading this book because I'm interested in the place and era. I also liked the fact that it was written by an Indian and a woman.
The story was shallow; more a vehicle for telling about the times in a way that would make it interesting to a larger group of readers than just those with eclectic taste. I found the character development lacking.
I enjoyed this story anyway and would recommend it to a Westerner with an interest in India's past. It was a quick, engrossing and exotic read.
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on March 6, 2000
This is basically a fairly dry attempt at an historical epic. I'm familiar with Ms. Mehta's name, and had considered buying Karma Cola once. Here I'd hoped for historical fiction with a little edge to it. Nothing doing. No twists, no edge, no juice to the story at all for me. Even the travelogue-type descriptions withered for me.
This has all the trimmings of the engrossing saga, including the lovely cover, but I'm sorry to say it didn't go anywhere for me.
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on March 20, 1998
I read Raj several times and then loaned
it to a friend. Since I haven't received
it back, I'm ordering it again so I can have
a copy of this excellent work in my library.
It was a moving, touching book which
opened my awareness to the plight of India during
that time period. Most of the royalty were
delightful and compassionate. Those who
weren't were nevertheless interesting.
Dee Lambert, Ph.D.
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on April 30, 2000
"Raj" is a very good novel that provides a panoramic view of the British India from the perspective of a wealthy woman. Mehta has provided a sympathetic narration about the life of the native princes and their family under the watchful eyes of the British. She also portrays the decadence that was brought to this anglican culture developed in India.
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on January 27, 1998
A very good book for those who want an insight into India's past wrapped in a story. The book has been written in a very easy and flowing style. Often you are transported back in time during the age of the British and the Maharajas of India. Altogether the book is a pleasing experience but often the events in the book leave a bad taste in your mouth.
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