Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh

sea of poppies


A sailing ship full of emigrants, prisoners, labourers and enchanting personalities departs India in 1838.

♥ “Set in 1838, at a time of colonial upheaveal and shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China, Sea Of Poppies tells the story of the ship Ibis and her collection of characters making the journey from India to Mauritius.

“There is a fallen raja, an American freed man, a French Orphan, a Chinese Opium addict, and a cross-dressing reincarnated saint just to name a few. As they sail away from their pasts they become ship mates and family, each relaying their story with colour and candour. This results in a narrative brimming with accents and dialects, and stories which are personal but also factural, racially historical and political.

“There is plenty of action onboard as well, as the Dickensian cast of characters establish their own new beginnings.”

How was it that no one had ever told her that it was not love itself, but its treacherous gatekeepers which made the greatest demands on your courage: the panic of acknowledging it; the terror of declaring it; the fear of being rebuffed? Why had no one told her that love’s twin was not hate but cowardice?

♥ “The text here is sensory and thick with meaning. Each character’s story is moving and significant. However the vast array of languages and slang is difficult to keep on top of. I have no doubt this is an authentic work that tells many stories that need to be told, but I think it needs to be read more attentively than I was able to to be fully appreciated.” – Rachel

Published 2008
John Murray
528 pages

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