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October 2010: Shadow of the Moon by M.M. Kaye

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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boswellbaxter
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October 2010: Shadow of the Moon by M.M. Kaye

Post by boswellbaxter » Fri October 1st, 2010, 1:00 pm

Discuss Shadow of the Moon here.
Susan Higginbotham
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annis
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Post by annis » Fri October 1st, 2010, 5:55 pm

I read this back in the '70s, so a looong time ago, but I was very taken with it at the time. I recall that it has a time-slip element to it. MM Kaye is a gifted storyteller and really brings India of the British Raj to life, no doubt in large part due to the fact that she grew up in British India. Trouble is, I'd have to re-read the book (I do still have a copy somewhere) to discuss it properly and I've got too much new stuff on my TBR pile to get through currently. Some striking images have stayed with me though, like the scene when rampaging Indian mutineers drag a pregnant British woman who is in labour out of hiding and for a space in time are transfixed by the perennial miracle of birth. Only momentarily though--

Surprisingly MM Kaye had quite a bit of trouble getting this book published initially, as it was felt that John Masters had already cornered the market for historical fiction set in India

"The twenty years after the end of the Second World War were dominated by the novels of John Masters. When an aspiring writer called Molly (M. M.) Kaye tried to interest a publisher in her first novel on the Indian Mutiny, she was told that it had no hope of success, as 'Jack' Masters had already cornered the market for that kind of book. Coming from a family that traced its Indian roots back for more than five generations, Masters followed his father into the Indian Army, in which he served until Independence in 1947."

Source:
The Literature of British India

MM Kaye's 3 part autobiography makes a great read too:
1. The Sun In The Morning (1990)
2. Golden Afternoon (1997)
3. Enchanted Evening (1999)
Last edited by annis on Fri October 1st, 2010, 10:03 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Fri October 1st, 2010, 6:24 pm

I'm in the same boat as Annis -- I read this back in the '80s, along with nearly everything else M.M. Kaye wrote, when her works were re-published after the enormous success of The Far Pavilions. (besides her Indian sagas, she wrote several pretty good mysteries, too, all set in exotic locales where she had actually lived). I really enjoyed her books and would like to re-read them, although probably not anytime soon. This is the one with the heroine named Winter De Ballestero, right? For some strange reason, that name lodged in my brain while nearly everything else about the book is forgotten. :o

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Post by Misfit » Fri October 1st, 2010, 6:25 pm

I read this one a couple of years ago, just loved it. The start might be a bit slow for some, but boy towards the end. I love how Kaye's knowledge of India and the culture is really something. She's very good a showing us the disparity between East and Western cultures - somethings never do change do they?

Valerie Fitzgerald's Zemindar is a good companion piece to this, as it details the seige of the Lucknow residency from the inside.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri October 1st, 2010, 6:58 pm

I re-read (okay, listened to it) a couple years bac, and was so taken by the woman who did the voices that I bought the last copy at that time available -- on tape, no less.

One of the reasons I wanted another go at it was reading in Kaye's autobiography that she had stumbled across a whole raft of documents on the trials right after the mutiny in an old shed, half-eaten by white ants. She pored over the testimonies, and couldn't keep from thinking, "What a story these would make, if you put them all together!"

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Post by annis » Fri October 1st, 2010, 8:05 pm

I just found my copy of SOTM, and it must have been the edition published post-Far Pavilions, as it's dated 1979. I do remember seeing a copy of Trade Wind in the bookstores around the same time and being startled to see it advertised as a new novel from MM Kaye, as I'd read it many years earlier as a teenager! It was a bit controversial as it had a rape scene, though as was the fashion in those days, the gruesome details were left to the imagination and a row of discreetly placed stars.

The dedication in SOTM gives an idea of how much MM Kaye's personal history was tied up with that of the British Raj. It reads:

To
Sir John William Kaye
who wrote a history of the Indian Mutiny,
Major-General Edward Kaye who commanded a battery at the Siege of Delhi,
my grandfather, William Kaye of the Indian Civil Service,
my father, Sir Cecil Kaye,
my brother, Colonel William Kaye,
and to all other men and women of my family
and of so many other British families who
served, lived in and loved India.
And to
that lovely land
and all her peoples,
with admiration, affection and gratitude.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Fri October 1st, 2010, 11:22 pm

[quote=""Misfit""]
Valerie Fitzgerald's Zemindar is a good companion piece to this, as it details the seige of the Lucknow residency from the inside.[/quote]

I have this one on order from the library. :)

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Post by Misfit » Fri October 1st, 2010, 11:42 pm

[quote=""Michy""]I have this one on order from the library. :) [/quote]

I loved loved loved this. IIRC you like the Jane Eyre kind of story so you'll feel right at home.

Annis, I've read Trade Wind and from the reviews at Amazon that rape scene is still controversial to some. It is very low key and I don't want to give out spoilers but the reasons for it, and how it is handled were realistic IMHO. I always roll my eyes at this - what about all those soap opera heros who started out as rapists?
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Post by Vanessa » Sat October 2nd, 2010, 11:53 am

I read Shadow of the Moon years and years ago and I remember that I loved it. Like Michy, I remember the name of Winter! I've got it out for a re-read but I don't know when I shall get round to it. The printing seems miniscule!! I loved Trade Wind, too, my copy of which is a hardback! Shadow of the Moon looks like a trade paperback but they are both in pristine condition. I must've loved them!! :)
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Post by Michy » Sat October 2nd, 2010, 4:59 pm

[quote=""Misfit""]I loved loved loved this. IIRC you like the Jane Eyre kind of story so you'll feel right at home.

Annis, I've read Trade Wind and from the reviews at Amazon that rape scene is still controversial to some. It is very low key and I don't want to give out spoilers but the reasons for it, and how it is handled were realistic IMHO. I always roll my eyes at this - what about all those soap opera heros who started out as rapists?[/quote]

I read Trade Wind, also. But again it was many years ago and pretty much all I remember are the names of the two main characters (interesting how names stick in my brain). I don't remember a rape scene so it obviously didn't make too much of an impression. I need to re-read it one of these days.......

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