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January 2009: The Far Pavilions

A monthly discussion on varying themes guided by our members. (Book of the Month discussions through December 2011 can be found in this section too.)
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January 2009: The Far Pavilions

Post by boswellbaxter » Wed December 31st, 2008, 2:42 pm

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Discuss The Far Pavilions here!
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles


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Post by Misfit » Wed December 31st, 2008, 4:30 pm

I'll start. Fess up, how many of you voted for this just to stop me from nominating it again and again? :) :o :p

This is one of my all time favorite books and I'm currently on the third time around reading it. One thing I love about MM Kaye is her knowledge of the history and culture of India and how she can bring that through in her writing and remind us how different Eastern and Western cultures are and though different doesn't necessarily mean one of us is right and the other wrong.

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First time for Far Pavillions

Post by Caveowl » Thu January 1st, 2009, 4:53 am

Thanks for encouraging ... quite enjoyable characters, lots of interesting anthropology and history. Really appreciated reading Kaye's perspective on Afghanistan. Skipped most of the battle scenes.

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Post by Telynor » Fri January 2nd, 2009, 2:07 pm

I tried reading this when it first came out in the 70's, but couldn't finish it. Now -- I tackled it in December and enjoyed myself immensely. Here's the long review over at Epinions --

http://www.epinions.com/review/The_Far_ ... 5335972484

Any comments most welcome.

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Post by AuntiePam » Wed January 7th, 2009, 3:41 am

I'd heard about this book for years but never got around to trying it. I bought a copy for the discussion here, but only managed about 200 pages. I like Kaye's descriptions and she moves the plot along nicely. I liked the characters I was supposed to like and didn't like the ones I wasn't supposed to like. My big problem with the book is that she doesn't let me figure things out on my own -- she tells me the what, why, and how of everything. For lack of a better word, the writing was very "basic". This is what happened, this is how things looked. Everything is right there, on the surface. It's an interesting story, to be sure, but I was disappointed.

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Post by Ash » Wed January 7th, 2009, 1:50 pm

Not sure what you mean by basic; she doesn't use fancy language, or beautiful phrases. What she does for me is describe a time and place so vividly that I can honestly see it and almost smell it. And I loved the love story.

I have not re-read it for this discussion, but I'd read it about three times when it first came out. One thing that sticks with me, along with the love story, is her love for the country, and the bits of history that come with the book got me looking around for other authors. Read Kim, Midnight's Children, and other novels, along with some historic accounts. I don't think I'll get to India anytime soon, but these books bring it to me so vividly that I can pretend.

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Post by Misfit » Wed January 7th, 2009, 5:35 pm

I just read this again, for the third time. I can see what Pam is talking about with telling rather than showing, but at the same time I have a hard way seeing how Kaye could have told it differently. India and it's cultures and customs is too complex to be able to convey as well through dialogue itself.

I do admit to skimming a lot of the last parts in Afganistan, as it was only two years ago I'd read it before, but I do recommend that part as it is as timely in our current political climate as it was in the 19C.

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Post by pat » Fri January 9th, 2009, 3:52 am

I am half way through it, and enjoying it! However, it is not easy to read! I can only manage about 40 pages per day if that!
A good book and a good coffee, what more can anyone want? xx

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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri January 9th, 2009, 4:13 am

I spent today doing laundry, listening to TFP on audiobook. I am at the part towards the end where Ash is scouting out Afghanistan, and the major protagonists have been off-stage for about an hour and a half of listening time. I know Wigram Battye and all those other officers of the Guides are relatives of Kaye's, but the politics are really not very germaine to the story. She could have covered the entire thing in one paragraph, plot wise: "And then the ignorant idiots in Simla decided to pick a fight and thus started another Afghan war."

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Post by EC2 » Fri January 9th, 2009, 11:18 am

I have read this one three time in the past, so am not reading it again for discussion, but I think the writing is exquisite. It puts you there in the moment. India just floods into your room when you are reading. I don't even recall skimming the Afghan bits. Mind you, I was younger then and my endurance skills better :) I don't recall the writing being on the surface and everything exposed - but nothing wrong in that from my perspective.
There are books that wear their hearts on their sleeves and some where you've got to dig for the heart and the meaning, and I enjoy both types as long as the quality of the writing is up there. IMO, M.M.Kaye is one of the greats of epic story telling.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal



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