Anyone who has been reading my blogs for sometime now, knows that among my all time favorites, of Austen, Pratchett, Lee, Steinbeck, Tagore and Rowling, is yet another, perhaps lesser known Author, who went by the name of MM Kaye! Many know of her magnum opus, The Far Pavilion, but do not know that she was a prolific writer who wrote many other works including mysteries and non fiction and more importantly, more than 18 years before the publication of The Far Pavilions, she wrote her first historical novel, The Shadow of the Moon – the story of a Spanish heiress, Winter De Ballesteros and the English Captain Alex Randall, in the tumultuous backdrop of 1857 mutiny in India.
I read this novel for the first time from the school library 18 years ago and somehow my reading of English in India would never be the same. I discovered an English author, who could describe India as an Indian and write about one of violent and most horrific episodes of Indian history, with balance and empathy and a deep understanding of Anglo-Indian relations. The novel, like many others, has been incorrectly termed as a romance, but it is not. It is history, politics and a narrative of the uneasy relationship between two strong, albeit different nations! Ms. Kaye who had spent many years in India and came back to the country, leaving England and her family behind, as she reached adulthood, beautifully captures the identity of those Europeans who were by birth, Europeans, but lived and drew their very identity and roots from a land, far away from their own motherland!
I can keep waxing eloquently about her works, but to get to the point, every May I usually revisit, The Shadow of the Moon, because it’s main action is set the blazing heat of Summers and somehow gives the book an authentic feel as the heat comes bounding inside my house. Furthermore, May seems like an apt month, since the Mutiny or the War of Independence, depending of which version of history one reads, kick started in May, May 10th to be exact, and the book is a fitting tribute to both the Indians and the British to lived and died bravely for the land and their beliefs!
As always, I knew that my partner in all kinds of reading adventures, Cleo was interested in reading this novel and with a little bit of temptation, she is on board. Helen from She Reads Novels is also joining the event and I hope some of you would also come along for the ride. We plan to start in June and continue through July if need be, taking it slow and steady. As always, I will be providing a historical overview in a couple of days time to give a context to the dynamics at play during this time.
So without further ado, lets start our journey back in time, 160 years back in time, to the princely states of Oudh and Jhansi as the then India comes alive through the narrative of Ms. Kaye!
12 thoughts on “The Shadow of The Moon Read Along….”
I’m looking forward to this! The Far Pavilions is one of my favourite books, so I have high hopes for this one. 🙂
I’m so happy that you’re going to be joining us, Helen.
Helen…. I am so happy that you are joining us for the event! Welcome and I am sure we will have fun! The Far Pavilions is one of my favorites as well! This was written 18 years before The Far Pavilions so is more experimental in nature. But I still think of it as an excellent read!
I just need to have my copy arrive and I’m ready to go! It shipped on the 18th, so hopefully not too long. I’ve read all of M.M. Kaye’s mysteries but none of her historical novels so I’m very much looking forward to it! 🙂 Thanks for hosting the read-along!
Ha! Cleo…..no thanks required! You know how much I love this book and all I need is an excuse to revisit again!
I’ve just got my copy of Shadow of the Moon. Is it too late to join in the readalong? I’ve never participated in one before so can you please explain what’s involved?
Hey Yvonne…this is great and its NEVER to late to join. In this case specifically, we are still waiting for Cleo to get her copy so we actually start around June 10th and Read through July. There is as such no “requirements”. I usually do a historic overview of the time period the novel is set in, so that we can understand the concepts better. After that, it’s up to each one how they want to go ahead and plan the reading. Read at your own pace and pleasure. Usually some of us blog and discuss mid-way through the novel, like maybe every 10 chapters, other wise a simple review at the end of your reading is enough. In-between the two months, I will try and find some interesting nugget to keep the interest alive and provide some outer entertainment/insight beyond the book Hope this helps! Really look forward to your joining us!
I’m very happy to hear I’m not too late to participate and very excited to be joining in the readalong. Shadow of the Moon is a book I’ve been meaning to read for ages but never got around to it. This is going to be so enjoyable, especially with all the additional background information etc. to help us on our way. Thank you!