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A Division of the Spoils (1975)

af Paul Scott

Serier: The Raj Quartet (4)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingSamtaler / Omtaler
7001424,165 (4.24)1 / 66
After exploiting India's divisions for years, the British depart in such haste that no one is prepared for the Hindu-Muslim riots of 1947. The twilight of the raj turns bloody. Against the backdrop of the violent partition of India and Pakistan, A Division of the Spoils illuminates one last bittersweet romance, revealing the divided loyalties of the British as they flee, retreat from, or cling to India.… (mere)
Nyligt tilføjet afHeadbum, privat bibliotek, guthries, simplynewton, PilgrimJess, Walicki, kaybee67, proudreaders, macphear
  1. 00
    Bhowani ekspressen af John Masters (Cecrow)
  2. 00
    Staying On af Paul Scott (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: As a sort of coda to the Raj Quartet, you'll learn what happened afterwards in Pankot and to several of the characters.
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Viser 1-5 af 14 (næste | vis alle)
"An emigration is possibly the loneliest experience a man can suffer. In a way it is not a country he has lost but a home, or even just a part of a home, a room perhaps, or something in that room that he has had to leave behind, and which haunts him."

This novel is the concluding part to Paul Scott's 'Raj Quartet'. This book is largely written in two parts. The first set in 1945 just as WWII is coming to an end, the latter in 1947 just before India gains independence. Both English and Indians alike must ask themselves what place there is for them in a new India.

In this book we are introduced to a new character, Sergeant Guy Perron. Perron is not really made to be a soldier or an intelligence officer rather he is an academic interested in Indian history and culture. Despite coming from a privileged background and having attended the same boy's school as most of the central male characters Perron has resisted all attempts to make him an officer. He is trying to keep a low profile, hoping to pass the war years quietly and resume civilian life as soon as possible thereafter. Perron attends a party hosted by a maharanee as part of his investigation into possible security leaks where he meets Ronald Merrick (the policemen, now a soldier, at the centre of the incident in The Jewel in the Crown), Sarah Layton and Count Bronowsky (both of whom we first met in The Day of the Scorpion). When Perron's senior officer commits suicide Merrick decides to get Perron transferred to his own staff.

Merrick, now a Major, remains eager to achieve a rise in social standing despite his hatred for those born into privilege. Merrick represents the worst characteristics of the English in India, where greedy, unremarkable Englishmen have carved something out for themselves, simply because of the colour of their skin.

The Layton family have their issues as well. Susan, is clearly still struggling to cope with the death of her husband whilst their father, Lt Col Layton, has returned from a German prisoner of war camp a different man; uncertain of himself as his family are of him. Sarah works diligently to be the glue that keeps the family together, sacrificing herself to do so.

With Indian independence inevitable the future of princely states such as Mirat, ruled by the Nawab assisted by his chief-advisor Count Bronowsky, is increasingly uncertain, whilst the growth in power of the Muslim League has made the formation of Pakistan almost inevitable. Meanwhile the Indian National Army (INA) – a rebel army composed of Indian soldiers captured by the Japanese and released on the condition that they now serve Japan are now returning to their homes. Are they freedom fighters or traitors?

As Perron reluctantly works for Merrick, befriends the Layton family, enjoys the hospitality of the Nawab, he becomes the reader's main witness to unfolding events. Though he remains enchanted with India, shocking events as independence nears, means that, like the English, his time there too must come to an end.

Being the final book in the series this review inevitably also becomes one of the quartet, largely because the two seem to neatly dovetail one another. Despite the whole series stretching over roughly 2000 pages there is remarkably little action but when there is it is often explosive.I found some parts genuinely engrossing, often when characters discuss events in India at the time, cultural and racial divides, and the roles of colonist and colonised. However, frustratingly, there were also a lot of dull passages. Parts that are slow, uninteresting or seemingly unnecessary, whilst his penchant for repetition and long convoluted sentences, (often consisting of brackets) continued to annoy me. In this book, a long section was taken up by a near repetition of the interview between Hari Kumar and Rowan whilst the former was still in prison. In the earlier book this was compelling reading but here it was just plain annoying and a touch patronising.

Having now read the entire quartet, I think this final novel is symptomatic of the whole. There is much to admire and despite my issues with some of his writing style, his knowledge and appreciation of a complex and controversial time in history, his exploration of them through a disparate set of characters caught up in events much larger than themselves is quite astounding, making this quartet: a true epic. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Nov 29, 2020 |
(30) The last of the Raj Quartet. Fortunately, I still have most of the episodes of the BBC series to watch so I don't have to say goodbye quite yet. This last installment introduced us to two British soldiers, Nigel Rowan, and Guy Perron - both had gone to the posh private school with Hari Kumar back in England. They are satellites to the Laytons whose patriarch returns from captivity. The Laytons lives are still intertwined with the Kasims, the Nawab and Count Bronofsky, and of course Merrick who continues to be the ultimate enigma right up until the end. . . Britain relinquishes power, the partition off of Pakistan occurs, and the book ends shockingly in the midst of the Hindu-Muslim riots on 1947.

Scott's writing is sublime - dense, but sublime. As usual, there are parts, in particular dealing with the politics, that are dull and require I think some knowledge of the time that I didn't seem to possess despite reading these novels. That is mostly why I've taken 1/2 star off of the preceding novels, but despite this the whole reading experience has been unparalleled.

Scott weaves magic with characterization, realistic dialogue, different mediums for telling the story through all optics - letters, newspaper articles, reminisces, direct narration. You really feel as if you are in those close, moldy, haunted bungalows having a brandy. Or in a train compartment watching the cows, and Indian peasants roll by, reading the Mayapore Gazette and contemplating tiffin.

Some things that haunt -- Merrick's 'accident', Hari's home, Ahmed's last smile. I will miss the experience of reading these novels. Definitely one of the best experiences of my reading life. ( )
  jhowell | Jun 23, 2019 |
There is much written of this series, so I don't think I have much to add.

I was very aware that there were many allusions to events in the history of the British in India that I think would be obvious to someone who is British, but of which I am more vaguely aware. None the less, I've read and heard enough to feel like I get the point.

It was also interesting to me to see how the personal relationships unfold in the writing. I had watched the mini-series based on the book. In the book the relationships and resolutions are more ambiguous, leaving more for the reader to decide.

I did think that the unfolding of character Merrick was even better done in the mini-series, more forceful. The book was possibly a bit more sympathetic to this flawed character.

At any rate, I'm glad I read the book. I enjoyed the mini-series and the two complement each other well. ( )
  yhgail | Feb 20, 2019 |
I am at a loss for words. I have no idea what to write about this last volume of The Raj Quartet and about the entire series. Magnificent? Brilliant? Superb? They all fit but why? What has Scott done to rise to this level of superior literature, maybe the best thing I’ve ever read?

Character development is the first thing that comes to mind. Ronald Merrick may be the most evil character ever created. His self-serving smugness while he humiliates and destroys others is brilliantly depicted. Hari Kumar is the perfect foil. Soft-spoken, gentle, and protective of the white woman he has come to respect and admire, even though he knows how unacceptable this is in his homeland of India. Barbie Batchelor, retired mission administrator and teacher only wants what she believes is right and just. Edwina Crane, mission administrator realizes too late the value of her Indian teachers. The women, wives of the military men who are either serving in Europe or in the Far East, as their spouses literally hold down the fort in India. Their interactions and opinions are invaluable as they keep the plot moving. Guy Perron, historian at best, sifts all the facts and sorts things out at the end. Sarah Layton, one of the most complex women in literature, ponders whether she fits in India or should she be living in Great Britain, where she feels she really belongs. I could go on and on but I’ll stop there.

The historical significance of this series of novels is probably its most important aspect. I knew little to nothing about the machinations of the demise of the British in India in the years during WWII and leading up to the1947 partition and independence of India but Scott’s evocation of all that brought it about was incredibly haunting and yet brilliantly informative.

Make no mistake this series has a lot to love: police procedural, forbidden love, politics, military technique, murder, racism and history come alive, all carefully constructed in the making of a very complex narrative. Add to that the incredibly beautiful, almost poetic, prose employed by Scott which left me holding my breath at times. Very, very highly recommended. ( )
2 stem brenzi | Jun 24, 2018 |
Finished listening to the Raj Quartet today. This really is a marvelous series of books. The five is for the cumulative effect of these books. They circle from multiple perspectives around the same group of characters. The book moves from 1939 through the war and then partition. Manages to touch on so many issues from that period, British, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh. Class. Race. Sexuality. Memorable characters. The BBC version is really quite good. Have been watching again. Much of the dialogue from the books.

Moving on to read a biography of Scott and listen to Staying On. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
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After exploiting India's divisions for years, the British depart in such haste that no one is prepared for the Hindu-Muslim riots of 1947. The twilight of the raj turns bloody. Against the backdrop of the violent partition of India and Pakistan, A Division of the Spoils illuminates one last bittersweet romance, revealing the divided loyalties of the British as they flee, retreat from, or cling to India.

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