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Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

Sea of Poppies (2008)

by Amitav Ghosh

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Ibis Trilogy (1)

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2,2151302,925 (3.97)2 / 647

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English (125)  Italian (4)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (2)  Norwegian (2)  Vietnamese (1)  All (136)
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)
Absorbing characters and story and setting kept me reading. ( )
  BridgitDavis | May 30, 2017 |
This is a fun book -- especially for all the early 19th century eastern nautical slang! It's sort of amazing how easily the meanings came through even without the benefit of a glossary. The swearing is positively Shakespearean. And there is something mesmerizing in the way the author sets a scene -- Deeti's walk through the opium factory was like something out of Dante. So when people describe this book as "kaleidoscopic" they are being completely accurate. It's a breathtaking tapestry of India on the even of the Opium Wars. Also, and this will sound a little odd, I appreciated the way Ghosh didn't sugar-coat or soften the violence, which is frequent, brutal, and yet not in the least gratuitous. On LibraryThing's Talk there was a discussion about "trigger warnings" and whether novels should have them, and this book immediately sprang to mind as an example of how inadequate such warnings would be in explaining what to expect from a book. That conversation is here, if anyone is interested: www.librarything.com/topic/199090#5309384

The one aspect I felt vaguely disappointed by was the characterization -- not that the characters (of which there are legion) weren't excellently drawn -- Ghosh's feeling for detail serves him as well here as in every other aspect of his writing. But it did seem to me that it was made very clear which characters I was supposed to like, and which ones I was supposed to hate, and as a rule I tend to resent that kind of emotional manipulation of the reader. As a result, although I was rooting for Deeti - a woman without protection -- and Paulette --a French girl with no social standing and thus also without real protection -- I was really more interested in the more "problematic" characters -- The Rajah who is catapulted into a descent through the caste system, the Babu who believes his body is the vessel for the spirit of a woman. It's easy to like Deeti, but the Babu was fascinating. As result of this ambivalence I felt over Ghosh's characterizations, I finished the novel completely committed to reading everything the author has written -- he writes that beautifully -- but not necessarily driven to pick up the next book in the Ibis Trilogy right away. Which is a little weird, because Sea of Poppies does end with something of a cliff hanger, so you'd think I'd be grabbing up the next book right away. But I'm not. Instead, I think I'm going to read some of Ghosh's earlier work. See what I think about the writer without the distraction of some kind of insistent pressure to find out "what happens next."
  southernbooklady | May 5, 2017 |
I'd rate this a 2.5 which I have rounded up to a 3.

Sea of Poppies is a period piece and it gave a good idea of the opium trade back in the colonial times. I did enjoy the sailing parts (as I am a sailor), but on the whole, the book didn't appeal to me.

In my opinion, this story could have been a whole lot shorter. I think that given the length of the book that the characters could have been better developed. There were too many characters for my liking, too.

I'm writing this brief review a month after reading the book and my memory of it is a blur. I can't even remember the ending, for goodness sake. Was there an ending, or was it left off in the hope that readers would proceed to the next book in the series?

( )
  LemonyT | Apr 21, 2017 |
Rollicking, inventive, adventurous, brilliant novel about the opium trade in British India circa 1840. The novel follows a group of disparate individuals who converge on a ship called the Ibis, which is set to carry coolies (Indian migrant workers) from Calcutta to Mauritius. Many of the characters speak a patois called Bhojpuri, and the linguistiv inventiveness of the novel alone is astounding. Loved it. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
It's the first book of a yet-unwritten trilogy. I simply cannot wait for the next installment. Brilliant writing, totally immersive historical fiction, with astute relevance to modern issues. My favorite kind of book. ( )
1 vote trwm | Oct 6, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Amitav Ghoshprimary authorall editionscalculated
Risvik, KjellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Nayan
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The vision of a tall-masted ship, at sail on the ocean, came to Deeti on an otherwise ordinary day, but she knew instantly that the apparition was a sign of destiny for she had never seen such a vessel before, not even in a dream: how could she have, living as she did in northern Bihar, four hundred miles from the coast?
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(...) dat de essentie van die transformatie gelegen was in een enkel woord (...)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312428596, Paperback)

The first in an epic trilogy, Sea of Poppies is "a remarkably rich saga . . . which has plenty of action and adventure à la Dumas, but moments also of Tolstoyan penetration--and a drop or two of Dickensian sentiment" (The Observer [London]).

At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Her destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners on board, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a free-spirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the exotic backstreets of Canton. With a panorama of characters whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, Sea of Poppies is "a storm-tossed adventure worthy of Sir Walter Scott" (Vogue).


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:16 -0400)

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At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Her destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China.

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