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This title in other editions

One Last Look


One Last Look Cover

ISBN13: 9780679450412
ISBN10: 0679450416
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Calcutta in 1836: an uneasy mix of two worlds–the patient, implacably unchangeable India and the tableau vivant of English life created of imperialism’s desperation. This is where Lady Eleanor, her sister Harriet, and her brother, Henry–the newly appointed Governor-General of the colony–arrive after a harrowing sea journey “from Heaven, across the world, to Hell.” But none of them will find India hellish in anticipated ways, and some–including Harriet and, against her better judgment, Eleanor–will find an irresistible and endlessly confounding heaven.

In Lady Eleanor–whose story is based on actual diaries–we have a keenly intelligent and observant narrator. Her descriptions of her profoundly unfamiliar world are vivid and sensual. The stultifying heat, the sensuous relief of the monsoon rains, the aromas and colors of the gardens and marketplaces, the mystifying grace and silence of the Indians themselves all come to rich life on the page. When she, Harriet, Henry, and ten thousand soldiers and servants make a three-year trek to the Punjab from Calcutta under Henry’s failing leadership, Eleanor’s impressions of the people and landscape are deepened, charged by her own revulsion and exaltation: “My life,” she says, “once a fastidious nibble, has turned into an endless disorderly feast.”

Harriet, whose passivity conceals a dazed openness to the true India, and Henry, with his frightened adherence to the crumbling ideals of empire, become foils to Eleanor’s slow but inexorable seduction.

Historically precise, gorgeously evocative, banked with the heat of unbidden desires, One Last Look is a mesmerizing tale of the complex lure of the exotic and the brazen failure of imperialism–both political and personal. It is a powerful confirmation of Susanna Moore’s remarkable gifts.


"When describing her life in India as an 'endless disorderly feast,' Eleanor might well be describing One Last Look: rich, lush, scattered, repetitive, and wonderfully satisfying." Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Susanna Moore is the author of the novels In the Cut, The Whiteness of Bones, Sleeping Beauties, and My Old Sweetheart, and a book of nonfiction, I Myself Have Seen It. She lives in New York City.

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sentina, July 11, 2012 (view all comments by sentina)
I had a hard time keeping track of who the characters were without frequent reminders, of which there were too few; I never knew that Henry was the diary-writer's brother until I read it here; through the book, I thought he was her husband. I went back and reread the beginning,and she never says he is her brother that I could see.

There were more than 30 un-translated words, without even a glossary, such as sansculotte, zenara, apsara, and chibootra, which I found annoying. Context was not enough.

I was amazed that the English women's lives were ruled by fashion dictates -- they are frequently giving away their gowns because they are suddenly out of style; a great deal of detail is given to the description of what they submit to wearing, such as sleeves that are so tight they can hardly lift their arms.

There is a brief description of the extreme double standard, wherein English men can have children with Indian women, but English women cannot even have male Indian friends.

I liked when the writer's sister becomes "primitive," loving animals and not caring what she wears. There are a couple of very short, but very intense and stimulating, sexual descriptions, which are especially stunning considering the repression of the people of England of the time.

A few times, Moore reverses comments in thought-provoking ways, such as, "... blessed singleness, or is it single blessedness?" which I enjoyed, but there was too little of this.

The book had frequent quotes from something Indian, perhaps a song or a poem -- she never says -- that sometimes seem relevant to the context, but mostly not, such as, "Himalaya and his queen are like chakori birds at dawn -- starved for moonbeams" after a line about someone shooting quail.

Although some of the people in this book seemed to love India because of the colors, land, trees, and animals, I could not imagine wanting to live somewhere as described above, with the misery, both in the people and in the environment of abuse of people and animals, misery, killing, hunger, overcrowding, unbearable heat, huge and swarming insects, tyranny, ego-centrism, selfishness, poverty, wealth, stink, polluted water, slime, maggots,illness, death -- they're written about dispassionately, except once some people cry.

There seems to be an assumption that the reader knows more about the story-line underlying the diary and doesn't give enough information.

Because of my English background, I was actually rather involved in this book, and even though it lacked so much, I still got something worthwhile from it, especially seeing the extensive research done to produce it.
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Product Details

Moore, Susanna
Random House
New York
Brothers and sisters
Historical - General
Historical fiction
Domestic fiction
Colonial administrators
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
September 30, 2003
8.66x5.92x1.08 in. 1.11 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

One Last Look Used Hardcover
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Product details 304 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9780679450412 Reviews:
"Review" by , "When describing her life in India as an 'endless disorderly feast,' Eleanor might well be describing One Last Look: rich, lush, scattered, repetitive, and wonderfully satisfying."
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