From the moment his recreation of the Rebellion begins Rathbone makes the most of the historical, political, racial, religious and cultural elements available to him to construct an epic He doesn t populate the story with the usual historical walk ons nor does he stray from the actual timeline of the major events of the Rebellion but within these parameters Rathbone has plenty of room to develop plotlines and characters that are good, bad and human As the stories expand and intertwine Rathbone successfully balances our sympathy and outrage within this ambitious novel.
The Mutiny is old fashioned storytelling but that doesn t mean that the story is old fashioned In this novel the view is broad, the action is intimate and the writing is elegant.
The 1857 rebellion a.
a the first Indian war of Independence is a point of interest to me and it is fascinating to read about the different people with a different agendas were able to come together for a cause albeit their selfish motives.
So it was with a lot of interest that I picked up this one to read of the rebellion from the perspective of the British people who lived through it However, I should say the book for all its promises delivered very little.
For some odd reason, the author insists in the prologue and in the Epilogue that the British did a lot of good things like they sent only about 1% of the tax revenues back to UK in India and also insisting that it was not a war of Independence I was not sure how that related to the story other than showing a glimpse of the author s political leanings.
The answer, as some one from the country where the British did so much good is that, the last famine in India was in 1942 in Bengal and since 1947, after independence, the country never had a famine And I think while the railways and telegraph were good, it was only developed as a means of moving military transport and any civilian comfort from that was just accidental and I do not want to start on the number of native industries that paid the price to keep Manchester and Birmingham in the middle of the industrial world While I don t want to be spoiler of the good imperialist philosophy, I cannot let it go unanswered as well.
Now, back to the book, while it documents the historical incidents accurately, the story just limps along the unfolding of the events Sophie, Lavanya, Bruce and almost every fictional character wanders all along the Gangetic plains without any purpose other than be at the next battle or siege That is sad as the initial chapters of the book on the Meerut barracks were well written.
However, the author in his zeal towards the history keeps losing his characters and by extension us, the readers as well It could ve been an excellent spy story with Bruce in the middle or a tragic love story with Sophie and Bruce as the drivers or it could ve been a historical rendering of events It ends up us nothing That is a pity.
It is still an interesting book overall if you can forgive the plot holes and focus on the history.
This one was tough to stomach at points.
Dozens of characters, both Indian and European, are followed through the period from 1854 culminating in the critical years of 1857 58 during the Indian Mutiny If anyone is central it is Sophie Hardcastle, a young Army Officer s wife, but the landscape, military figures and the savage fighting and atrocities of both sides, up to the climactic siege of Delhi, are the real core The even handed authorial voice often provides the historical context, in a riveting and moving read managing to personalise the brutal conflict.
Recommended by Wiki A Rathbone fan certainly wrote his Wiki, but it s interesting.
Found this disappointingly dull after enjoying
For Its British Population, The India That Swelters In The Late Spring Of Is A Place Of Amateur Theatricals, Horseracing And Flirtations Under The Aegis Of The Omnipotent East India Company But A Brutal Awakening Lies In Store For The Complacent British One May Night, After Thirty Years Of Abuse, The East India Company S Native Soldiers Rise Up Against Their British Officers Thus Begins The Most Savage Episode In Our Imperial History Caught Up In The Violence Is Pretty Sophie Hardcastle, A Young Wife And Mother Newly Arrived From England As She Searches For Her Infant Son, Missing In The Chaos, Sophie Finds Herself Bearing Witness To Atrocities On Both SidesMoving, Sombre And Thrilling, Rathbone S Tale Is Told On A Grand Scale, Ranging From The Cannings In Government House To The Heroism Of The Humblest Soldiers And Peasants It Is As Exhilarating As Any Victorian Adventure Story, And Yet, With Its Unflinching Examination Of Religious Fanaticism And The Horrors Of War, The Mutiny Also Carries A Powerful Message For The Modern World