Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

Sea of Poppies (Ibis Trilogy, #1) I’m not sure why I picked this one up from the library, but I just couldn’t finish it.

Stats: Audio book (which is what I picked up) is 15 discs, or 18 hours. Narrated by Phil Gigante. The print book is 513 pages, published in 2008

Blurb: (Goodreads)At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Her destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners on board, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a free-spirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the exotic backstreets of Canton.

What I liked: I liked learning about the lives of the people who lived and worked in the poppy fields in the Ganges and how that intersected with the Westerners and Brits trying to exploit them. From the detail, it seems that Ghosh has done his homework. Lovely cover.

What I didn’t like: I had to stop listening at disc 7. I really tried to finish but the terms, the ship names, the native language was so confusing, it made the story – what there was of it, hard to understand and thus not enjoyable to listen to. I know if I was reading, I would be skipping lots of things on the page that didn’t make any sense and was not interpretable by the context. Phil Gigante was the narrator and he did a wonderful job with the languages and voices. He earned his salary and then some with all of the nautical terms and boats types he had to say beside the different languages. The Boston Globe review on the audio cover states: “Such is the power of Ghosh’s precise, understanding prose that one occasionally wishes to turn the pages three at a time, eager to find out where Ghosh’s tale is headed.”  I’m not sure we were reading the same book, or the reviewer was skipping pages because he was frustrated trying to figure out what Ghosh was trying to say. This makes me never want to believe a book review again! Who writes those things, anyway.

Rating: 2/5


4 comments on “Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

  1. Kev says:

    I admire your honesty.

  2. Some books were just meant to be read by Boston Globe reviewers who like to flip page 3 at a time!! 😉

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