“The Naga Queen” by Vicky Thomas, a biography of Ursula Graham Bower, has recently been published by The History Press.
When I reviewed Ms Graham Bower’s own wonderful book, “Naga Path” a couple of months ago, I began by stating that I am a friend of her daughter Catriona Child, here in Delhi.
I wanted the disclaimer – well, it wasn’t a disclaimer as such, more a piece of information – but whatever the semantics, I wanted the connection known before, so that undue favourable bias wasn’t suspected to have been shown.
This is not the case here.
The exciting, swashbuckling-with-permed-hair adventures of an extraordinary young woman living in a remote tribal area of India during the dying days of the Raj and through the drama of the Second World War – what more could a biographer want ?
Vicky Thomas has written a biography of Ms Graham Bower that was authorised by the family, and indeed she was given full access to family papers and photographs.
But I fear that justice has not been done to what is a potentially fabulous story.
Ursula writing about her life and her adventures comes to life in a flash, so vivid is her prose, so strong her descriptive powers, so wicked her sense of the ridiculous, so positive her outlook.
For me, sadly, the only added value of this book was that Ms Thomas had access to Ms Bower’s private letters, which are crackling with life and energy : reading them was the real pleasure of this book. Listening to Ursula tell her own story in her own words.
Having read, in close succession both “Naga Path” and “The Hidden Land”, I found sections of this biography familiar, yet oddly diminished.
Ms Graham Bower in her own words :
Ms Thomas :
And is Nagaland actually a small country ? Wasn’t the last time I looked.
Published by The History press, the hardback costs £18.99.
If you wish to buy the book, just click on the link below :
Thank you for reviewing this Christine. My sister and I hope interest in the story will be rekindled and that “Naga Path” will indeed be reprinted! We also fondly hope someone somewhere will pick up on the movie potential! One can always dream!
Cat, this is a movie crying out to be made !
I agree. I am still reading the book (Book Club books keep intervening…) and am enjoying it. But its main selling point for me is the extra bits from Ursula’s own papers. I’m afraid I don’t think Ms Thomas is the born writer that her subject was. And I must grump briefly about the poor sub-editing – literals galore etc. The best thing would be if it got Naga Path back into print!
Agree, Jane – the letters are wonderful