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The Raj Quartet, Volume 3: The Towers of…

The Raj Quartet, Volume 3: The Towers of Silence (Phoenix Fiction) (original 1971; edition 1998)

by Paul Scott

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6311015,382 (4.03)1 / 108
Title:The Raj Quartet, Volume 3: The Towers of Silence (Phoenix Fiction)
Authors:Paul Scott
Info:University Of Chicago Press (1998), Edition: Univ of Chicago PR ed., Paperback, 399 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Towers of Silence by Paul Scott (1971)



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It isn't as eventful as the first two in the series (essentially it goes over the events that have already taken place but from different points of view) but the characters are fascinating. ( )
  ltfitch1 | Jun 5, 2016 |
This is the third instalment of Scott’s Raj Quartet. I must admit to a little confusion when I started the book. I was pretty sure I’d not read it, but the story seemed very familiar. At least, it sort of did. And when the narrative referred to something I remembered clearly from an earlier book in the quartet, but here it all happened off-stage, I realised that Scott was covering ground previously described but this time from different characters’ viewpoints. So, for example, when Sarah Layton goes off to Calcutta and has her adventures there, The Towers Of Silence remains behind in Pankot and, in the person of Barbie Batchelor, we get to witness Mabel Layton’s death at first hand. Barbie, incidentally, is a superb creation, an ex-Mission teacher who has retired to Pankot and shares Rose Cottage with Mabel as her companion. She’s played in the television series by Peggy Ashcroft, who is the best thing in the programme, and captures Barbie perfectly; although the rest of the series is a little disappointing as it misses so much interiority out that most of the characters comes across as unrepentant racists. The books, however, are built on cleverly-nuanced character studies, so they’re vastly superior to the TV series. ( )
  iansales | Mar 14, 2015 |
So, once more we circle the events of the first two books. In this case the tale is told primarily from the perspective of Barbara Batchelor, the companion to Mable Layton. And this one is particularly sad. There is a great deal of discussion of faith, knowledge and certainty; the finding, loosing and discovery of all three. And positions change multiple times. All the while the Raj is apparently disintegrating before the eyes of those with wit to see it happening - and the contrast between those that d and those that can;t or wont is most marked. Sanity and state of mind also plays a large part in this, with various people appearing to be somewhat irrational or actually insane at various points in the book. It managed to be, in a way, the most personally moving of all the books so far, but I don;t think it would make any sense at all if you'd not read the preceding two books.
I find myself hoping for some form of resolution for at least some of the characters in the forth book, as they seem to be left dangling at the conclusion of this one. ( )
  Helenliz | Aug 28, 2014 |
I can't believe this book has only six reviews on LibraryThing. Why aren't more people reading and talking about it? This is the third book in The Raj Quartet. It doesn't so much move the story along as it provides more details of the same story through the eyes of the impulsive Miss Barbara Batchelor, an English missionary teacher in India. Facing a lonely retirement, she accepts the challenge of moving to a different region and sharing a cottage with another woman. Mabel Layton welcomes her new boarder in her usual calm manner, but her step-daughter-in-law, Mildred, is not happy with the arrangement. Huh, kind of like the way the Indian population is not thrilled with the way the Raj takes over more and more of their country.

I really like the way Paul Scott uses the intimate stories of Colonial India to give a personalized look at what was happening in India in the 1940s. He throws in elements of spirituality, philosophy, and mysticism to further shroud the political situation only to slowly reveal the levels of mistrust. This is the slowest volume so far but I so enjoyed the characterization of the Cruella-DeVil-type villain Mildred, the female counterpart to the jealousy and cruelty of Robert Merrick, and the constant gossip and grasping for power among the military wives, that I didn't mind the rehashing of plot. There was a wedding, a birth, several deaths of major characters, insanity, and the constant worry of WWII in the background to hold the reader's attention. Scott details the incidentals of daily life while keeping an eye on the big picture. I am eager to see how he wraps up this complex package in the fourth and final installment. ( )
1 vote Donna828 | Jul 26, 2014 |
Author Paul Scott rewinds the clock a bit and starts The Towers of Silence in 1939, at the beginning of the war. Set in the hill station of Pankot, the main character is Barbie Batchelor, retired missionary, who, as a paying guest of Mabel Layton, is living at Rose Cottage with her. Although Barbie is proud of her middle class roots, she is not entirely able to fit in to the upper Raj society and is treated much like an outsider, however, she is a unique position to observe the actions that flow around her.

This is mainly a book about women and the impact of the war upon them, once again we come into contact with some familiar faces from the previous books. Mildred Layton and her daughters Sarah and Susan are dealing with the interment of their husband and father as a prisoner of war. We learn more about Susan’s marriage, and both the attacks on Daphne Manners and Edwina Crane are again brought into focus and we once again meet Captain Ronald Merrick. The character of Barbie Batchelor was very life-like with her ability to be both naive and innocent but then at other times she could also be very astute at reading people and their motives.

Though after three books now, I am a little tired of the rehashing of these events, I do find the author’s style of repeating certain occurrences and recording them through the perspective of different people very interesting. Each time a little more is revealed, a little like peeling back the layers of an onion. I did find this a much slower read than the previous two books. I also felt this one had a darker overview as these women struggle to keep up their illusion of gentility, one can sense that their way of life is slipping away. I am in awe of the author’s vision and look forward to seeing how he ends this monumental saga. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Jul 6, 2014 |
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To Penny With all my Love
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In September 1939, when the war had just begun, Miss Batchelor retired from her post as superintendent of the Protestant mission schools in the city of Ranpur.
"He should have died in the rubble of Quetta. In most ways he did. The Lord alone knows for what purpose the remains are preserved."
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Table of Contents:

Unknown Indian, Question of Loyalty, Silver in the Mess, Honour of the Regiment, Tennis Court
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380441985, Mass Market Paperback)

The third novel of a quartet set in India which began with "The Jewel in the Crown". As the war enters its last bitter stage, the English wives, daughters, mothers and widows of officers embroiled in the ongoing conflict gather in Pankot, their old beliefs and assumptions seriously threatened.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:45 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Mabel, Layton, doyenne of Pankot society, retreats altogether to the tranquillity of her rose garden and her inner vision of India--taking with her Barbie Batchelor as her companion. Both are shaken in their belief of the old order of things, which Captain Merrick and the British Military vainly struggle to uphold the myth of British invincibility in the face of irreversible change.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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