Book Review #46: Once Upon A Time In India-The Marvellous Adventures of Captain Corcoran

Name: Once Upon A Time In India-The Marvellous Adventures of Captain Corcoran
Author: Alfred Assolant, Sam Miller (Translator),
Alphonse De Neuville (Illustrator)  

No. of Pages: 231
Genre: Fiction/Adventure
Publisher: Juggernaut Books
Price: Rs. 299/-
Published in: 2016

How did I get it? From the publisher.

The blurb of the book says: It is the time of the Great uprising of 1857. India is in turmoil, Captain Corcoran, a french sailor who has roamed the world, arrives with his pet tigress Louison. And so begins the adventure of his life, as he and his tigress join hands with a Maratha prince and his beautiful daughter Sita, to fight the British.

This fast moving story, with dramatic twists and turns, combines romance, humour and edge of seat suspense.

Alfred Assolant is a French man born in 1827. He started his career in teaching and became a freelance writer and journalist later. He wrote over thirty books over thirty years, but Captain Corcoran was the only successful one. He died a pauper’s death in 1886.

Sam Miller was born and brought up in London, but has spent much of his adult life in India. He is a former BBC journalist and author of Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity and A Strange Kind of Paradise: India Through Foreign Eyes.

I found the cover of the book very attractive. A handsome hero, a beautiful princess and an exotic tiger, with a view of a palace. The book contains illustrations are typically old-fashioned, which are actually a reflection of the referred times.

I am really surprised to find out that Captain Corcoran and Louison are actually very popular and famous in their own country. But what was more surprising is that it took almost two centuries for a English translation. This book was published way back in 1867 and is the only successful book of the French author, Alfred Assolant. For at least fifty years of Assolant’s death in 1886, the book was widely read and translated into varios languages like German, Spanish, Italian, Czech, Polish and Russian but never English, most probably because of its overt Anglophobia.

The story is fast-paced and indulgent. It has humour, adventure, action and romance and a vintage charm. Even though the Indian prince, Holkar, is not shown in the best of light, it was not really offensive. Holkar is depicted as an arrogant as well as a royal fool. Holkar chooses to go on a hunt when there was an impending threat on the kingdom. The English are the true villains, and Captain Corcoran is depicted as the saviour of the Indian kingdom. Well, the book is written by a French author, the protagonist is a French character. So of course, everyone else will play the supporting parts.
Louison, the tigress, steals the show though. She is the life of the story and the true hero who saves any day. She is brave, she is naughty, she is intelligent and she is playful.
There are several mismatches in the story along the way. At one point, a certain staircase was said to go downstairs. And after sometime, it was going going upstairs. The book Captain Corcoran is searching for, also changes name a couple of times. May be the author was in a hurry to finish the story.
Nonetheless, it was a very entertaining plot, that keeps the reader hooked.The book has all ingredients to become a entertaining Hollywood movie. And I really hope that it will someday made into one.
I give “Once Upon A Time In India-The Marvellous Adventures of Captain Corcoran4 stars on a scale of 5.


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