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The lives of four Victorian gentlewomen are transformed when they leave the cozy confines of England for India to accompany their husbands or a brother who were appointed Viceroys of India, the crown jewel of the British Empire. Emily Eden, Charlotte Canning, Edith Lytton and Mary Curzon were well-born, cultivated women who experienced the extremes of decadence in a country gripped by poverty.

Emily Eden imagined an India of dazzling splendor but found a land of dark secrets. Charlotte Canning painted delicate watercolors while the carnage of the Great Mutiny raged. Edith Lytton feared the moral laxity and adultery of India but indulged her husband rather than restraining him. Mary Curzon, an insecure American heiress in thrall to her husband unwittingly was almost crushed by him.

Marian Fowler, “both scholarly and tart,” recounts their adventures in this classic work of colonial and women’s history.

“A marvelous work of evocation, narrative and research... I read Below the Peacock fan with great pleasure and interest.” –Nigel Nicolson

“Fowler has skilfully woven the experiences of these women into the story of the history, social life and rampant excesses of British India. It makes for captivating reading.” –The Montreal Gazette

“Wikedly witty... in short, thorouly enjoyable.” –The Ottawa Citizen

“Highly entertaining...” –House and Garden

“Witty, pungent and boldly irreverant and totally absorbing, Below the Peacock Fan is a book to be savoured. It is a gem.” –The London Free Press

Published: Bev Editions on
ISBN: 9781927789056
List price: $6.99
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This is an excellent history book and Marian Fowler is an excellent historian. The life of British women in India may not be of particular interest to Americans but it is an important part of British history in India. At first it might seem that their lives were nothing but luxury, given the treatment and living conditions of their many Indian servants. They were however witnesses and actual participants in history. The death rate for the British was high particularly for children. They often lived in dangerous locations. They were unsuited to the climate and its stifling heat. This is a very readable and entertaining book.more
Marian Fowler writes in her inimitable readable style but this book is only for those most interested in British Raj history. She covers the biographies of five Vicereines whose time in India, spanning several decades, reflect on changing attitudes of the Raj to its final inflexible form. Some of them suffered terribly, unprepared for the culture shock and the climate and paid with their lives. There is not much mention of jewelry considering the fabulous gemstones that the Vicereines would have seen on Indian Royalty.more

Reviews

This is an excellent history book and Marian Fowler is an excellent historian. The life of British women in India may not be of particular interest to Americans but it is an important part of British history in India. At first it might seem that their lives were nothing but luxury, given the treatment and living conditions of their many Indian servants. They were however witnesses and actual participants in history. The death rate for the British was high particularly for children. They often lived in dangerous locations. They were unsuited to the climate and its stifling heat. This is a very readable and entertaining book.more
Marian Fowler writes in her inimitable readable style but this book is only for those most interested in British Raj history. She covers the biographies of five Vicereines whose time in India, spanning several decades, reflect on changing attitudes of the Raj to its final inflexible form. Some of them suffered terribly, unprepared for the culture shock and the climate and paid with their lives. There is not much mention of jewelry considering the fabulous gemstones that the Vicereines would have seen on Indian Royalty.more
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