THE SUN IN THE MORNING: My Early Years in India and England by M.M. Kaye
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THE SUN IN THE MORNING: My Early Years in India and England

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The author of The Far Pavilions (1978), etc., recalls her childhood enchanted by India under the Raj. Immediately, Kaye leads us back to the halcyon days of an English girl and of a country ""as peaceful and unspoiled as Eden before the fall."" Born in 1908, Kaye lived first in Simla, the Indian government's summer capital at the foothills of the Himalayas, and then on the plains in Delhi, ""the old walled city of the Moguls,"" which (like this book) ""is soaked in history."" In direct and often passionate prose, she envelopes us in pageantry, fragrant blooms, ""sun-baked earth, dust and spices,"" stories of ghosts and tigers. She remembers playing at the deserted Taj Mahal, and watching a glittering procession of paper tombs followed by Moslems who whipped themselves and streamed blood. At night she listened to the peacocks and jackals, and to the silence of ""untouched, unknown country"" leading to Tibet. By contrast, common childhood and today's one-note world pale. So does England, where she is sent to boarding school after the Great War, three quarters of the way through the book. In this brimming memoir, Kaye also writes a personal defense of the Raj (before ""the rot set in"") and a moving tribute to her father, Sir Cecil Kaye. Fluent (like herself) in Hindustani, he devoted his life to serving India, at anguishing cost to his family, separated by continents and often for years. Kaye's unapologetic colonial point of view--she dismisses Passage to India as Forster's ""virulent attack on his own race""--is, however myopic, never dull, conveying vividly a particular experience of the long-gone Empire, on the subcontinent she innocently considered home. Romantic, opinionated, exciting, informed by Kipling and a photographic memory: Kaye's autobiography should enthrall not only fans of her sprawling historical fiction, but many others as well.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's