One Last Look

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Alfred A. Knopf, 2003 - Fiction - 288 pages
12 Reviews
Calcutta in 1836: an uneasy mix of two worlds-the patient, implacably unchangeable India and the "tableau vivant of English life created of imperialism's desperation. This is where Lady Eleanor, her sister Harriet, and her brother, Henry-the newly appointed Governor-General of the colony-arrive after a harrowing sea journey "from Heaven, across the world, to Hell." But none of them will find India hellish in anticipated ways, and some-including Harriet and, against her better judgment, Eleanor-will find an irresistible and endlessly confounding heaven.
In Lady Eleanor-whose story is based on actual diaries-we have a keenly intelligent and observant narrator. Her descriptions of her profoundly unfamiliar world are vivid and sensual. The stultifying heat, the sensuous relief of the monsoon rains, the aromas and colors of the gardens and marketplaces, the mystifying grace and silence of the Indians themselves all come to rich life on the page. When she, Harriet, Henry, and ten thousand soldiers and servants make a three-year trek to the Punjab from Calcutta under Henry's failing leadership, Eleanor's impressions of the people and landscape are deepened, charged by her own revulsion and exaltation: "My life," she says, "once a fastidious nibble, has turned into an endless disorderly feast."
Harriet, whose passivity conceals a dazed openness to the true India, and Henry, with his frightened adherence to the crumbling ideals of empire, become foils to Eleanor's slow but inexorable seduction.
Historically precise, gorgeously evocative, banked with the heat of unbidden desires, One Last Look is a mesmerizing tale of the complex lure of the exotic and the brazen failure ofimperialism-both political and personal. It is a powerful confirmation of Susanna Moore's remarkable gifts.

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Review: One Last Look

User Review  - Lindsey - Goodreads

This book was a little odd with its subplot of incest (I never quite figure out exactly what was going on there) but I did enjoy reading about how two eccentric high society women adapted to colonial Indian life. Read full review

Review: One Last Look

User Review  - Janis Williams - Goodreads

I have owned this book for several years and I think this is the fourth time I have read it. Every time there is something new to notice and relish. Plus it is India and very hot. Everyone is sweating through their violet silk gowns. A good way to stay warm in the winter. Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Susanna Moore is the author of the novels In the Cut, The Whiteness of Bones, Sleeping Beauties, and My Old Sweetheart, and a book of nonfiction, I Myself Have Seen It. She lives in New York City.

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