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Book Thoughts: Esmond in India (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala)

Jhabvala, Ruth Prawer - Esmond in India


Title: Esmond in India
Author: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Genre: Fiction/World Literature
First published: 1958
Edition: Paperback, published by Penguin in 1985

Shakuntala is a young Indian woman who comes home to live with her prosperous family in post-independence Delhi. Sketching a gallery of fascinating and distinctive characters against a rich background, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala draws the contrast between two very different families and their daily lives – their squabbles, their politics, their love affairs, their expectations.

I had had this little novel sitting on my shelf for a while and I picked it up on a whim and I actually really enjoyed it.

This is mainly a character study of very different individuals in a similar position in the class system in India, yet they live very different lives. Some out of choice, some by circumstance. The main subject are the women, though the men are touched upon as well. A lot of the novel is internal thoughts and we the various characters have very different ideas about what is important in life and what consitutes happiness and usefullness.

For a little novel it took me a while to read it and it dragged in places, but it never bored me. It was really interesting to read about a bunch of people in a country and culture so different from my own. The single British character, Esmond, is the perfect contrast to Indian culture and I felt that however much he thought he had embraced his adopted country, he could not be more apart from it.

If you like a comedy of manners kind of book, you may well enjoy this! I have another book by this author and I will definitely read that in the future. I enjoyed this!

5 out of 7 stars


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