Books: Pale Imitations of Calcutta's Real Chroniclers ; One Last Look by Susanna Moore VIKING Pounds 14.99 (288Pp) Pounds 12.99 (Plus Pounds 2.25 P&p per Order) from 0870 800 1122
Dutta, Krishna, The Independent (London, England)
A historical novelist is judged by the ability to handle old material with imagination and skill, so that it comes alive. In One Last Look, Susanna Moore sets her story in the India of the 1830s and bases it on the experiences of the Eden sisters. Emily Eden went to India in 1836 as first lady of her brother George Auckland, who had been appointed Governor-General of India. Emily's letters to family and friends were published after their return to England in 1866. Her sister Fanny's appeared in print only in 1988. These daughters of Britannia (along with Fanny Parkes, another literary source for Moore) were compulsive chroniclers. Their writings are not only invaluable for scholars of the social history of colonial India; they are works of literature.
In her acknowledgements, Moore writes of the Edens: "I have taken the great liberty of using their very words." She changes 39-year- old Emily into Eleanor, who is 35, and George Auckland into Henry. All the other characters are very recog- nisable. The events too are real, except for hints of an incestuous relationship between Eleanor and George.
Unfortunately for Moore, she proves she is incapable of improving on the Eden sisters. She shows neither the knowledge nor the insight to evoke their world. Chunks are copied practically verbatim from Emily's Up the Country. Where Moore does embellish the original, she drops into stereotype.
To take but one example: Dwarkanath Tagore (grandfather …
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Publication information: Article title: Books: Pale Imitations of Calcutta's Real Chroniclers ; One Last Look by Susanna Moore VIKING Pounds 14.99 (288Pp) Pounds 12.99 (Plus Pounds 2.25 P&p per Order) from 0870 800 1122. Contributors: Dutta, Krishna - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: January 23, 2004. Page number: 22. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.