Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kim - Rudyard Kipling

It feels as though it's been forever since I've done a 100 Best Novels post. I guess it kind of has. The last one was A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and that was over a month ago now.

I have been a slacker. You all know that.

I slipped Kim in at the very end of March. The classic Rudyard Kipling novel played out as I got ready for work in the mornings thanks to the wonderful world of audiobooks. I may not be ready to talk to other humans that early in the day, but I'm perfectly content to let someone tell me a story. It works well. I'm working through Howard's End the same way right now.

Kim is one of those novels that I have always been peripherally aware of over the years. For whatever reason, I always have gotten Kipling confused with Robert Louis Stevenson in my mind. Although, that should be forever fixed now that I've read all about Stevenson's life. I associate Kim with Treasure Island and Kidnapped. I never really knew much about the story, other than that the main character was a small boy named Kim. I think I imaged him sailing around the world...likely due to those same invalid Stevenson connections.

In reality, no boats for Kim.

The real story centers around a small boy living in India during the British reign there. He is the orphaned son of a British soldier and an Irish woman. Though his given name is Kimball, after his father, he is called Kim throughout the novel.

We meet him running around on the streets, begging and doing small tasks for money. Since his caretaker is an Indian woman and his skin is tanned from hours in the sun, few realize his English blood.

His journey begins when he meets a Tibetan lama searching for a holy river. Kim joins him and together they set off across the countryside. Along the way, Kim encounters his father's regiment by sheer chance. He shows them his papers and they realize his identity with shock. They take him away and put him into school, a fate he disdains. 

He remains in touch with the lama throughout his school years and, eventually, returns to his side after completing his schooling. Once again, they set off in search of the river. Along the way, Kim's school training encounters this other life of his. I won't give away the ending, but, you can guess the ultimate choice. Kim must decide between following the path laid out for him by the British or continuing in the steps of his beloved lama.

I find it interesting that this was largely considered to be a children's novel. There are quite a few themes and events that seem above the level of school children. It is, however, about a school boy, so I suppose that makes it more easy to relate to. 

Overall, I found the book a bit boring. Maybe this is another one of those books that appeals more to boys due to the characters. I really missed the presence of female characters. I know, I know. You don't need female characters for a good story, but they definitely add something for us female readers. It's unlikely I will pick this one up again, but I do understand why it is on the list. 

Pages: 396
Date Completed: March 30, 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment