August 30, 2009

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

BOOK #: 69
REASONS READ: Interest in India; 21 Cultures Challenge; New Authors Challenge; A to Z Challenge; 999 Challenge; Classics Challenge; Summer Reading List
PUBLISHER: Hodder Headline (1924)
GENRE: Literary Fiction; Classics; British Lit
RATING: 4/5 Stars

SUMMARY: When Adela and her elderly companion Mrs Moore arrive in the Indian town of Chandrapore, they quickly feel trapped by its insular and prejudiced British community. Determined to explore the real India', they seek the guidance of the charming and mercurial Dr Aziz, a cultivated Indian Muslim. But a mysterious incident occurs while they are exploring the Marabar caves with Aziz, and the well-respected doctor soon finds himself at the centre of a scandal that rouses violent passions among both the British and their Indian subjects. A masterly portrait of a society in the grip of imperialism, A Passage to India compellingly depicts the fate of individuals caught between the great political and cultural conflicts of the modern world.

FAVORITE LINE: "It is easy to sympathize at a distance. I value more the kind word that is spoken close to my ear."

FAVORITE CHARACTER: I really enjoyed Mrs. Moore because she was empathetic, fiesty and true to herself.

THEMES: Racism, Culture Shock (Forster uses the term "muddle" to describe India's mystery to the West), the Oneness and Unity of Everything versus the Lack of Distinction between Good/Evil, Right/Wrong

FINAL THOUGHTS: As I prepare to go to India at the end of September for my sister's traditional Indian wedding (she will also have a traditional American wedding next July), I am immersing myself in everything India. My future brother-in-law is an amazing person and I am so happy for my sister. There are no concerns about whether Indians and whites can be friends- they are to be married! There is only joyous celebration in preparation for the occasion.

We have come far from the racist attitudes present in 1920s British-ruled India. Prejudices still continue all over the world today, but I, for one, am glad that I live in a time when these prejudices are being not only challenged but shattered. I live in a time when an African-American is President and my friends (and soon my family) are of all different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. I live in a time and a place where I know my future nieces and nephews will have a very small chance of being judged by their ethnicity and more by the content of their character (I just got all MLK right there, but it is true!)

Reading A Passage to India was enlightening. Growing up in the U.S. where it is very diverse and in a time where people are growing more and more accepting and open minded and being a person who has always been accepting and open minded, I find it bewildering that these prejudices ever happened and even more bewildering that they still go on today. I am the type of person who looks forward to the unexpected treats of India instead of hoping to find many familiar signs of the West. Of course, if you have been reading my blog long enough, you know I love immersing myself in learning about other cultures.

This book was slow at times, but it definitely was worth reading. I love books that leave you with more thoughts to ponder than mysteries solved. What can I do to help others see what I see when I look at another person- their mind and heart? I recommend reading this book at least once.

Other Reviews:

The Zen Leaf
Book Gazing

If you have reviewed this book or another book I have reviewed, please leave me a message or comment and I will add your link to my review post!


  1. I'm going to be reading this one very, very soon, and can't wait! My book club is reading it so I'm very excited! I'm glad to see a positive review.

  2. I've been wanting to go to India for a long time. I hope you post some pics when you return!

  3. What a great opportunity to go to India for a family wedding! That should be fantastic, and yes, I'm also rooting for pictures when you come back!

  4. My youngest sister is married to an Indian, too! I haven't met him yet but we talk on the phone. He's the sweetest guy and takes care of my sis so wonderfully.

  5. I might have to get this book.

    Best wishes to your sister!

  6. Congratulations! You won the books at Stephanie Written Word and I ... discovered your blog. Good, indeed, I like it.
    As for this post, I love E.M. Forster. I've read everything escept his short story. "The secret understanding of the hearts" excerpt, meaning Aziz and Mrs Moore at the mosque at night is my favourite passage in A Passage to India. I can't tell you why, but I love it.

  7. This is one that is always hovering in the back of my mind as one I need to get to ... I need to just add it to a list! I'm going to do that right now.

    Enjoy India! Have you read The Marriage Bureau for Rich People? It's a recent book.

  8. I am excited for you- I can't wait to
    read your stories about India. Congratulations to your sister.

    I read A Passage to India a few years ago- I think it is time to re-read it. I really enjoyed it. Most recently, I read Forster's A Room With a View which I also liked.

  9. The wedding in India sounds like such a wonderful opportunity to really experience the culture.

  10. Wow - a traditional Indian wedding - I'm sure that will be an amazing experience. I like the way you've set up your review - it's very organized!

  11. Lovely review. This is a book I definitely want to read. I agree with a lot of what you said in your review. Many Americans grow up in a more diverse, accepting environment and forget that there is still problems of race and sex discrimination in the world. It's important to immerse yourself in other cultures and attempt to understand them, and it's also important to try to share that understanding with others because it's really misunderstandings and fear that create barriers like prejudice.

  12. This definitely sounds worth reading. Forster is an author I've been meaning to check out for ages. I think I'll start with Howards End, but this is on the list too.

  13. I just came across this blog while randomly browsing the net.
    Personally, I felt this to be one of E.M. Forster's more overrated works. If anything, its more a tract for the times when the British Raj was still the Empire on which the sun never set, than anything else. You might wish to check out the 1984 film adaptation though.

  14. Congrats to your sister and soon to be brother-in-law!! And I'm so jealous that you're going to India and not taking me!! I've longed to go there for quite some time. I enjoyed your review immensely and this book sounds like a great read!!

  15. I wish I was going to India so I'd have an excuse to read this book. Ha! ;)

    I hope you have a lovely time at your sister's wedding. It sounds like it's going to be brilliant!


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