I finished "The Jewel in the Crown," but I'm still confused about who the mysterious stranger is. I thought by the end we would know who cared enough to investigate the twenty year-old events depicted, but no, the author kept his secrets, with a hint or two that are just too subtle for me. I guess if you have a four-book series, you have to do something to keep people reading.
The book is well worth your while, though. It's an older novel and probably not in print, but check libraries or used book stores. It deals with the end of the British era in India. This is referred to as the "Raj," a term I had not heard applied in this way before, so I will probably learn a lot reading the books. (I should thank my friend Teri for loaning the set to me.) It is written in a very formal British style that I rarely see in contemporary fiction.
The book reminded me of "The Years with Laura Diaz," a panoramic view of Mexican history through most of the 20th century written by Carlos Fuentes. I learned more about Mexico's history, especially its political history, in that book than I ever did in school (and I've spent a lot of time in school!). Of course, the history takes second place to the fine writing Fuentes provides. Don't you just love to read a good book?
Note: Tomorrow afternoon I get to unwrap my dyed fabric and see what my results are. Wish me luck. If it's really good, I'll put a photo on my web site and tell you how to get there.