Heat and Dust Paperback – May 1989
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|Paperback, May 1989||
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'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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Beautiful, prosaic, well-woven story about two English women in India in two different eras. A work of art that is a pleasure to read and savor.Published on April 10 2004 by J. Jacobs
This is a very engaging story with enough romance, political intrigue, history, drama, scandal, etc. to satisfy most
readers. Read more
I am not claiming possession of great literary understanding, but somehow none of the two female characters tell you much about what sort of ideals they represent, which passions... Read morePublished on April 4 2002 by Amazon Customer
It is incredible what Ruth Prawer Jhabvala manages to do in well under 200 pages: Two women's lives, two periods in Indian history are the material for a fascinating tale about... Read morePublished on March 26 2002 by Manuel Haas
I really did enjoy the book for the most part. It was fun light reading. My trouble with the book is that it could have been so much more. Read morePublished on Sept. 6 2001 by John C. Shaw
HEAT AND DUST is Jhabvala's most famous novel, but it's never really made it into the bigtime of novels concerning Anglo-Indian relations. Read morePublished on March 15 2001 by Jay Dickson
Jhabvala is best known for her screenplays for Merchant and Ivory, in fact, the trio later made this book into a film. Read morePublished on Oct. 1 2000 by Orrin C. Judd
This is an enjoyable, quick read. It is a well-constructed story on two levels... one in the past, one in the present. It intimates, rather than describes India... Read morePublished on March 24 2000 by Debbie Terrill