by Rudyard Kipling (1901)
I first read this with Chrissy while traveling in France in March/April 1990, when she was 9-going-on-10. We took turns reading to each other, and I tried to explain the parts she didn’t understand. I have fond memories of that, and she says she does, too.
Recently I felt the urge to re-read it, and then saw it on her bookshelf in Boston. She said she intended to re-read it, too, but lent it to me. (This is the same copy we read in 1990.)
It’s even better than I remembered. Kipling obviously loved India and its people, and loved the ideas represented by the Lama. It shows throughout the book. It’s a great coming-of-age story, as well as a spy novel. It pokes fun at everyone from the English rulers to the foolish Indian farmer. Even in the triumph of the Great Game, the hero is a minor Bengali playing a Keystone Kop farce. The most genuine characters are Kim and the Lama, and even Kim is unlikely.
Maybe it’s silly to say so, but I find it a heart-warming story, and I’ll probably read it again.
I just checked, and it’s not on Rexroth’s list. I don’t understand why not.