Welcome to Week 2 of the Online Book Club discussion of Victoria & Abdul by Shrabani Basu.
How did the beginning of the book treat you this week? I have to admit, I thought the beginning was a little slow. I had a hard time getting into the story. I thought the introduction and foreward were really interesting, but the first chapter was harder to read. Did you find yourself feeling like it was hard to get into the action? It was hard to keep all the names straight, even though there was a list of characters at the beginning.
In the second chapter, a quote really stuck out to me and really affected me as I read. Near the end of the chapter, Basu writes about Queen Victoria after her golden jubilee saying, "The warmth of her people had cheered her, but they had gone home to their loved ones and she had returned alone to her Castle, her maids and Household." Isn't that such a sad quote? I thought it was so sad to imagine that Queen Victoria had such a great jubilee day, and so many people celebrated her reign, but still, she went home alone.
Could you believe all the descriptions of the great wealth of the maharajahs? The descriptions of their jewels and clothes was so interesting. In chapter 2, there was a section that described a solid gold howdah and the Pearl Carpet. I did a little research, and I found some pictures that show both of these objects. Check out this auction description on Sotheby's to see the Pearl Carpet, and this photo from the British Library shows the howdah mounted on the back of an elephant.
If you can't get enough of Queen Victoria and her jubilee celebrations, check out this online scrapbook. It provides details about her diamond jubilee, which took place in 1897, ten years after her golden jubilee, but it's interesting nonetheless. I especially liked the menu and seating chart. You can research information about the Queen's early life on this scrapbook as well.
What do you think of Queen Victoria and Abdul's relationship so far? We haven't learned too much about them so far, but it's interesting how quickly Victoria latched on to Abdul and trusted him to teach her and advise her about India. So far, Abdul has moved to secretarial duties for the queen, and he has taught her to love curries. Do you think other staff members were threatened by the fact that he became so close to the Queen so quickly? Check out the movie clip below if you're interested to see how the movie depicts the early relationship between the two.
I hope you enjoyed this section and are excited to continue reading. Please let me know your initial thoughts in the comments section. Make sure to read chapters 6-10 for next week's discussion. Happy reading until then!