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The Book That Made Me: A Passage to India

Novelist Rachel Joyce on the impact 'A Passage To India' had on her younger self

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A Passage to India

Books that have had meaning in my life have probably happened to come at a time when they were needed.

I read A Passage to India for A-level. I was 17, looking for something bigger without knowing what it was, and feeling hemmed in by all the restraints of school, without feeling bold enough to do pretty much anything about that. 

Then I read this novel where the landscape is like another character, with its colours, its caves, its heat, where the people who are ‘good’ may not be so good after all, where Mrs Moore (who became in my mind my English teacher) could say ‘Pretty dear’ to a wasp and be killed off by E.M. Forster in one simple line at the end of a chapter.

I read the book over and over. Like Adela Quested, I was searching for simple answers and what the book kept telling me was that there are many, and they are mostly contradictory. What looks like a muddle may, in truth, be a mystery.

Rachel Joyce’s new short story collection, A Snow Garden and Other Stories (Doubleday, £7.99) is out now

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