I remember struggling through the four books that make up Paul Scott’s The Jewel in the Crown, and thinking to myself that I really needed to create a visual timeline in order to put everything into the proper, chronological order. The four books known as The Raj Quartet begin with the story of a young English girl who moves to India in 1942 to live with her closest living relative, after the death of her immediate family members. The story ends in 1947 with the independence of India and Pakistan and the different storylines that evolve within, deal with the political and social difficulties that existed between the families of the British military and the Indian residents.
The books are written from the point of view of the author, through interviews, letters and conversations that took place between characters, and the plot hops back and forth in time with little or no warning for the reader, often presenting characters which had died in previous chapters.
Thankfully in 1984, British television created a 14-part miniseries that aired on PBS and presented the four books in perfect chronological order, an answer to our prayers. It is probably the very best adaptation of a novel that I’ve ever seen. The casting is spot on with actors who seem to have walked right off the pages of the book. If you ever get the chance to watch all 14 episodes, I highly recommend it – then afterward go ahead and read the book.
~Lisa Riley Emig