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VOL. XXIII No. 13, October 16-31, 2013
Six novels, the Great Revolt their theme
Savitha Gautam

It all started with some rumour about animal fat being used to grease cartridges. The soldiers revolted as biting such cartridges for use went against their religious faith. And all hell broke loose.

The year was 1857. The place was Meerut, India. The rebelling soldiers who revolted belonged to the Indian Army. The event? The Sepoy Mutiny or just The Mutiny. That the spreading rebellion led to the dissolution of the East India Company in 1858 and also led to the British to reorganise the army, the financial system and the administration in India, is something all us have studied in our History textbooks. Reading about the Sepoy Mutiny today is an exercise in refreshing our history facts, a reminder of the times that were and is a reflection of the times we are in. But, it can also provide a fascinating read.

What the Mutiny also did was to inspire people to write books… about it, with it as the backdrop and much else. It is for their readability and lively pictures of an era that ‘The Mutiny Novels’ brought out by DC Books are commended. Edited by Pramod K. Nayar, the series comprises six books. The relationship between the British sahibs and mems with the locals, their lifestyle and the society at large come under focus here. Yes, these novels are told from a British point of view, but they also look at the Indian counterparts with clarity of thought and a certain candidness.

The novels are not just about Indian history but English history as well as England’s cultural history all of which have been irrevocably connected with what happened here at that time. While some of the situations may seem dated, there is nevertheless a wealth of information to be found on the general mood of the time, especially with respect to caste and cultural clashes, living conditions, treatment of women and the social structure.

Here is a brief description of each of the six books which come with an attractive jacket each:

A Brave Girl: The Beginning of Trouble – Louise Frances Field (Mrs. E.M. Field)

This adventure tale revolves round two young sisters Joan and Sara. While tomboy Joan loves to tempt fate, Sara is the quiet one who keeps her home shipshape. This story is about how, when faced with riots and unrest, the girls move to a safe place and learn to adjust. This is a story which is told from a woman’s point of view.

* * *

Bryda: A Story of the Indian Mutiny – Louise Frances Field (Mrs. E.M. Field)

The story is told through young eyes. Little Bryda arrives in India to join her parents when the Mutiny breaks out. She is protected by Wazir Ali, her friendly servant, and the bond they form strikes a stark contrast to the horror of the fighting around them.

* * *

Eight Days: A Tale of the Indian Mutiny – R.E Forrest

This is a violent narrative based on a true incident with British heroism of the female variety as its key premise. The story, which happens between the 8th and 15th of May, 1857, is set around the palace of Bahadur Shah Zafar. Beatrice, Lilian, May and Maud play pivotal roles… they are brave, quintessentially English women who suffer with dignity and courage.

* * *

In The Heart Of The Storm – A Tale of Modern Chivalry – Maxwell Grays

The social set-up of the British in India comes under the scanner here. The three protagonists – Jessie, her adopted brother Philip Randal, and the wealthy Claude who falls for Jessie – fight for love, loyalty and, above all else, survival.

* * *

Lost In The Jungle: A Tale of The Indian Mutiny – Augusta Marryat

A tale of survival, here Mrs. Brisbane from Britain has to face the inimical Indian landscape, the Indians and some fearsome political upheaval before she tastes freedom. In her courageous journey, she finds a companion in a young boy Harry. This is their story, told with a feminine perspective.

* * *

The Red Year – A Tale of The Indian Mutiny – Louis Tracy

‘Red Year’ became synonymous with the Mutiny in British India. This is a love story of Lt. Frank Malcolm and Miss Winifred Mayne, set against the backdrop of the Mutiny which is what this story begins with. You also meet some real-life characters such as Sir Henry Havelock, Henry Lawrence, Nana Sahib, Roshnara Begum and Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last of the Mughal rulers.

(Some of these books are available for download on the eReader.)

– Savitha Gautam

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In this issue

Built heritage gets an Act
Will Schmidt Memorial become a Mere Memory
Politics Crime Sex Cinema
In Tamil Country Its Coffee Breaks
Smile a While with Ranjitha Ashok
The Life Times of Kesari
An Act to Save Built Heritage
Bird Watching in Offshore Waters
Six Novels the Great Revolt their Theme
A Captain's Dream Player

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Quizzin' With Ram'nan
Our Readers Write
Madras Eye


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