Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Sea of poppies

Having ploughed through some crafty books recently, in search of inspiration, I finally got round to cutting out the fabric I've had for a while to make a new bedcover. The colours are blue and ivory, that is blue flowers on an ivory background. Well, its now half made, and will be finished this weekend. Ideas gleaned from the gardening book I've now returned to the library are put on hold, as the back garden is too boggy to walk on at the moment, what with snow and then a month's worth of rain in a day on last Monday.

A really lovely read recently was Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies.

This wonderful historical novel, starting out in early Victorian India, has a huge cast of characters and a wide sweep of events, from the death of a husband and rescue of his wife from suttee (or self-immolation) to the preparation for the first Opium war in China in 1838, and the shipment of migrant workers to Mauritius. All manner of fascinating details of life at this time are here, from poppy growing and opium production, to the table placements for an early Victorian colonial dinner party and the arrangements of sails on a converted slaver, to the costumes and dress of sailors, Indians, convicts, rich and poor, high and low. The characters include Indians from village peasants to a Raja, Chinese sailors and others, a variety of British inhabitants of India, a mixed blood American freeman, a young French girl and include the ship, the Ibis, on which most of these people end up. The language used to tell this story is a complete mix of Bengali, Bhojpuri, English slang of the period, pidgin English and more, but nevertheless carried this reader on through the tale. I can barely wait for the next instalment to be published, so much do I want to find out what happens next.

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