Kim“Kim… slouched to the tree at the corner of a bare road leading towards the bazar, and eyed the natives passing. Most of them were barrack-servants of the lowest caste. Kim hailed a sweeper, who promptly retorted with a piece of unnecessary insolence, in the natural belief that the European boy could not follow it. The low, quick answer undeceived him. Kim put his fettered soul into it, thankful for the late chance to abuse somebody in the tongue he knew best.”

This is a boyish adventure. Kim, the son of an Irish soldier, is orphaned in India and brought up by an Indian foster mother of dubious moral standing, left only with his father’s army papers (which he cannot read) and an assurance which he cannot understand but takes for a prophecy, relating to the return of the regiment and the help it would bring. He is therefore a Sahib, but brought up as a Hindu and well-versed in all the street wisdom of the bazaar. He takes up with a Tibetan lama on pilgrimmage and leaves to travel the country. They come across the regiment and Kim is taken up to be educated as a Sahib, finally joining a secret service whose aims he does not understand or particularly care about, interested only in spying as a great Game.

The novel is undeniably well-written, with a colourful cast of wonderful Indian and European characters. No doubt it was a major inspiration for The Far Pavillions, which used a similar device of the Indian-raised white man who becomes a spy. I just don’t enjoy these manly adventures as much as I used too.

(I would however have liked more of the Woman of Shamlegh, matriarch of her village and wife of two husbands. She was cool.)

Here is an Amazon link.
Got mine from the library.