Are you someone who, having read the book, wouldn't want to see the film? (after all its rarely, if ever, as good) OR someone who, why bother reading the book, when you can see the film?
We all have our thoughts on films that have been adapted from books OR, though less likely, books that have come about because of the film.
Hmm! Do you know I'm not exactly sure where I stand when it comes down to whether
I'm actually trying hard not to make a comparison, after all this is my thoughts on the book and NOT the film (my review of which can be seen here). What I will say though is, in my opinion, this is one of those rare times that I actually enjoyed both almost equally ... the film perhaps a little bit more.
Anyway, now to concentrate on the book and the book only.
VICTORIA AND ABDUL: THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE QUEEN'S CLOSEST CONFIDANT by SHRABANI BASU.
Tall, handsome Abdul Karim was just twenty-four years old when he arrived in England from Agra to wait at tables during Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. An assistant clerk at Agra Central Jail, he suddenly found himself a personal attendant to the Empress of India herself. Within a year, he was established as a powerful figure at court, becoming the queen's teacher, or Munshi. Devastated by the death of John Brown, her Scottish gillie, the queen had at last found his replacement, but her intense and controversial relationship with the Munshi led to a near revolt in the royal household.
Victoria & Abdul explores how a young Indian Muslim came to play a central role at the heart of the Empire at a time when independence movements in the sub continent were growing in force. Yet, at its heart, it is a tender love story between an ordinary Indian and his elderly queen – a relationship that survived the best attempts to destroy it.
- Back Cover Blurb
Whilst writing the first edition of this book I was painfully aware that I had not been able to contact any of Abdul Karim's descendants.
- First Sentence, Foreward
The Queen herself travelled with her entire paraphernalia, including the memos, souvenirs, medals, photographs, diaries, ink-pots and pens that usually cluttered her desk at Windsor, Balmoral and Osborne. In later years, her donkey went too ...
- Memorable Moment, Page 97
SOURCE ... A present from Mr T.
READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.
Victoria. A woman who has a dour public persona and yet passionate, caring, compassionate and seemingly not beyond enjoying (and indeed creating) some degree of contention as a means of relieving the boredom. Head of a somewhat dysfunctional family (to say nothing of not just a household of hundreds but, a country, an empire), her closest friend and confidant?
Abdul, her Munchi. Disliked by her family; resented by her household staff; alienated from the fellow countryman also in her employ; her advisers suspicious of him; something of a sad and lonely figure when it comes to the royal Court and yet highly regarded, indeed loved, by some, not least of whom, Victoria herself. Loyal, charismatic and yet, hmm, a bit of a 'chancer'; someone not beyond manipulating her fondness of him(?).
A book that provides a wonderful glimpse into the life of the ageing monarch who, after the death of not only her beloved husband but that of John Brown, once again bonds with a 'mere' servant ... and not just any old servant either.
Using all the material (some of them the private papers of Victoria herself no less; others, long believed to have been destroyed, those of Abdul); the diaries, the journals, the scrapbook, the news paper cuttings at her disposal, Shrabani Basu's immaculately researched Victoria & Abdu offers a wonderful insight into a most unlikely friendship that not only crossed the boundaries of gender and class but also, she, so much older; British; the head of the Church of England; he, an Indian and a Muslim to boot, that of age, race and religion ... Talk about scandalous.
Were people merely jealous of his friendship with the Queen; were they right to be concerned by how much she seemed to be swayed by him; just how much a part did prejudice and racism play?
Engrossing, intriguing, thought provoking. My thoughts on Victoria and, especially, Abdul constantly changing. My only gripe, small as it is? Repetitive in places, I felt the editing could have perhaps been a bit tighter.