Sea of Poppies [Amitav Ghosh]

So it’s been a while since I’ve done a book post, and it’s because I’ve been trying to write my review of Sea of Poppies, and it’s taken me ages because of this:

Sea of Poppies is not The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.  That’s a pretty obvious statement to kick of the review.  I had just finished reading Thousand Autumns and loved it, like a fat kid love cake, so for the opening few chapters of this book, I had to carry on reading, even though my brain was going, this isn’t Thousand Autumns..but the Sea of Poppies swept me out of the Bay of Nagasaki at the end

So I was back on the sub-continent, which I had left behind after I toiled through it by Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and The last sigh of the Moor and Roshin Mistry’s A Fine Balance, all of which had left me gasping for air after submerging me in Indian life like I was a pickle in a jar.

Set amid the opium wars (like so much history of this part of the world, something that I am completely ignorant of) Sea of Poppies is the first of the Ibis trilogy and this book centres around a collection of people, who are lightly linked like wires on a net, which is pulled together tightly as they end up on the Ibis, a slave ship heading out across the Black Sea.

Paulette sensed that he had something to add, but now there was a sudden interruption, caused by a thunderous detonation.  In the awkward silence that followed, nobody glanced in the direction of Mr Doughty, who was examining the knob of his cane with an air of pretended nochalance.  It fell to Mrs Doughty to make an attempt to retrieve the situation. ‘Ah!’ she cried, clapping her hands cheerily together.  ‘The wind is rising, and we must make sail.  Anchors aweigh! We must be off!”

Once you get used to the fact that you will probably understand only two thirds of the words, unless I believe you go to Amtiav’s website the story seems to meander slowly like the mighty Ganges until at the end it hits the throttle as it finishes.

This is the first of the Ibis trilogy, and in the end I was hooked and caught in the net, wondering if the Ibis would reach shore.

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