Wednesday, January 9, 2008

2. A time to dance, no time to weep


By Rumer Godden
Rated 4 Stars

This autobiography covers the first 40 years of the life of Rumer Godden who was one of the most prolific authors of her time.

Born in India, at the height of British colonial power, she lived there until the 1950s. Her career as a novelist began with "Black Narcissus", which became a bestseller on publication in 1939 - and like many of her novels - was adapted into a film. Her relationship with India, although passionate, was ultimately and perhaps inevitably ambivalent and this ambivalence came to a head in an incident when she and her children were living in Kashmir. A servant tried to poison them and the notoriety surrounding the case forced Godden to leave Kashmir and eventually India itself.

She belongs in that small and exclusive club of women - it includes Isak Dinesen and Beryl Markham - who could do pretty well anything they set their minds to: hunting tigers, bewitching men, throwing elegant dinner parties, winning literary fame.
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