This engrossing and moving novel, with its diversity of memorable characters, offers many insights into political, religious and social tensions.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A blend of coming-of-age story, spy novel and spiritual quest, Kim is set in colonial India against the backdrop of games of espionage between competing European powers. Kim, a white orphan boy, befriends an elderly Buddhist holy man, and the two undertake an extraordinary journey. Rudyard Kipling spent several years in India during the 1880s, and he offers vivid, affectionate descriptions of the country alongside fascinating insights into Buddhist philosophy. We were captivated by the book’s larger-than-life characters (especially Kim, an ingenious and charming rogue) and inspired by Kipling’s portrait of an exceptional intergenerational friendship.
Kipling's inspirational poem the one that begins, "If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs" describes how to preserve one's honor by the principled avoidance of political and moral pitfalls. Italian artist Manna imagines the "you" of the poem as a boy journeying through a series of watercolor landscapes: fields under billowing clouds, misty nights, craggy mountaintops. To accompany the poem's first line, Manna paints the boy watching from a great green meadow as storm clouds approach; he stands and watches with a cool head, rather than running in fear. For "If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew/ To serve your turn long after they are gone," Manna shows the boy climbing a rocky pitch, the peaks of other mountains poking through the clouds below. Flying kites represent temptation, and dull-eyed marionettes represent allies who can't be trusted ("If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken/ Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools"). Though young readers may not fathom the poem's complexities, the grandeur of Manna's scenes conveys the loftiness of Kipling's sentiments. Ages 6 8.
I read this book 54 years ago at school for a book review. I have just finished reading it again. It is a book for all ages and I wish it were longer.