Tall and handsome Abdul Karim, a former assistant clerk at Agra Central Jail, arrives in England at the age of twenty-four to serve at Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Becoming a personal attendant to the Empress of India, within a year, he establishes himself as a power to be reckoned with at the English court, instructing the queen in Indian languages and affairs. Their intense and controversial relationship leads to turmoil in the royal household. Victoria and Abdul examines the amazing journey by which a young Indian Muslim came to play a central role in the heart of the great British Empire and his influence over its queen at a time when independence movements in the subcontinent were gaining great momentum. Amidst the political intrigue and conflict that influence this period, the novel tells the story of a tender love between an Indian servant and his elderly queen, a love that survived all attempts to destroy it.
Rupa & Co.
Rupa & Co.
Rupa & Co.
Rupa & Co.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Victoria & Abdul is a wonderful account of Queen Victoria of England with one of her closest confidante's Abdul Karim.
The author Shrabani Basu has obviously researched the topic, in depth and her work has paid off. This book is quite capturing and gives a wonderful look into the personality of Queen Victoria, as well as, the amazing rise and fall of Abdul Karim's social status and power.
In 1887, Queen Victoria requested for some Indian servants to be on attendance as she expected many of the Indian Royals for her Jubilee Celebrations. Along with Abdul, another servant Muhammed Buksh came. However, as soon as Queen Victoria saw Abdul, she was almost in awe of him. Almost immediately, he was singles out to become her Hindustani (Urdu) tutor and as he must have hardly known English, he was given tuition for that.
From being a hand help, he started doing secretarial jobs and soon afterwards became known as The Munshi.
In about 1886, Queen Victoria acquired a number of paid Indian servants, mostly from Agra. They were employed to serve at her dining tables. She found them interesting and on the whole charming. One of them, Abdul Karim, soon became her favourite. She adopted him as her personal secretary. After a short while, he began teaching her to read, write, and speak Urdu. He became known as the Queen's 'munshi' (secretary or scribe, particularly one with a mastery of many languages). She took lessons daily from him for the rest of her long life, and was a successful student.
The Queen became very fond of her munshi. This fondness was reciprocated. Abdul Karim assumed the role of her male confidant, replacing the uneducated John Brown who had died a few years before his arrival at Court. As time progressed, Victoria showered Abdul with gifts, property, and honours. His ever increasing popularity with the Queen displeased the rest of the Royal Family and many members of the Royal...
Well documented and well chronicled. But lost steam towards the end. Perhaps lack of information of the latter days of the Munshi was a hindrance. This is very reminiscent of today's lifetime where we in the corporate world are so eager to pucker up to our bosses/ or people with the right power strings for rewards. This phenomenon is all pervasive and has transcended generations and centuries.
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