In the High Peaks

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

About ten days ago, we finally put our reading tent up. I really love reading in the tent where absolutely no mosquitos or other biting bugs can bother me, yet the breezes can flow and I can see perfectly well and listen to the birds and the wind and the animals and gaze out over the fields and woods. We've been pretty much in the low 80s F, occasionally into the high 80s. If the humidity is very high, it's horrid, but otherwise it's not too bad. Could be much, much worse.

I have finally dug my teeth into one of my Classics Club books--Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jabhvala, who won the Booker Prize in 1975. The novel was adapted into a television drama by the BBC, I believe, but I never saw it. Did you, by any chance?

I'm only about 40 pages into this 138-page book, but so far the story moves back and forth between 1923-1926 British India and the India of the late 1960s or early 1970s, the latter time period narrated by a granddaughter and grand-niece of two women who spent years in India in the 1920s and 1930s. Much of the mystery for the young narrator revolves around a character of her relatives' acquaintance, Olivia, who created a huge scandal by leaving her husband, Douglas, for the Nawab of the District.

I've also just started The Rocks by British author Peter Nichols, which is set in summertime Mallorca. I'll have more to say about this wonderful novel soon. It was published last summer 2015.


  1. I think I saw the movie of Heat and Dust.

    How was Before the Fall? I'm trying to figure out if I should add it to my summer reading list. Summer is when I hole up in my a/c rooms, drink iced tea, eat frozen yogurt and read.

    1. Yes, Kathy, where you live, a/c is a soul savior, really. And even though we don't get as hot, I was thank-godding for it all day.
      Although Before the Fall was a page-turner, I felt disappointed and cheated at the end. I think I posted a reply to your previous question about this on an earlier post. It's fairly recent! Happy reading!

  2. I've never heard of a reading tent, I would have thought that a tent in your heat would be roasting hot - obviously I'm wrong though.

    1. Hi Katrina,
      Thanks for asking me to refine my definition of our reading tent.
      It's actually an "outdoor shelter," meaning that it has no floor, and it has total screen venting on all four sides. If it were raining, I would not get wet if I were in the middle. But I don't use it in the rain, as it is now raining, thank goodness!!
      The shelter is shaded at all times except during the morning hours, when I'm doing other things anyway.
      At noon it's completely shaded until 2pm, when I pack up and leave and don't return til 3:30 or 4.
      When we are in the high 80s and humid, we don't use the reading tent at all.
      Sasha loves it and uses her time sniffing the breezes. (All our wildlife). She also falls asleep at our feet.
      I totally read in it and gawk at the view.
      In the late afternoons, Ken brings out a beer and a book, but he ends up sleeping out there!
      I need to post a picture, the nest time we have a sunny day. I'm very thankful for any rain we can get. Worried about our well, actually.

  3. I wondered about it, too. Glad everyone enjoys it, including Sasha.

    A photo would be helpful. I still can't visualize it although I have a better picture of it now.

  4. Perhaps it's time for a reread, because I know I did read this (and I also watched the mini-series, I believe) but I don't remember anything. Uh oh. Hope you have a more memorable time of it than I!

    1. I think the fact you haven't remembered much of it is largely due to the fact that this is largely a loosely assembled novella--my opinion only. I found it interesting, but not memorable! I don't see how it won the Booker Prize in 1975, but it was the product of its time, it is novel, it is well-written...just not a classic.