The Bloodstone Papers

Written by Glen Duncan
Review by Nancy J. Attwell

This story about an Anglo-Indian family, and the bloodstone ring that was stolen from them during the last days of the British Raj, is a multi-faceted gem that should firmly establish Glen Duncan as one of the foremost novelists of our time. Ross Monroe, an Anglo-Indian boxer––who comes of age in the 1940’s, amidst the political chaos of pre-partitioned India––dreams of three things: England, Kate Lyle, and Olympic glory. But Skinner, an Englishman who treats Ross as if “the haze of color and class had evaporated”, deceives Ross and, in so doing, changes the course of his life. Sixty years later, Ross’s British-born son, Owen, frustrated by his father’s naïveté, is proud that he, himself, has not fallen for the “the old scams¬–God, purpose, fate, design.” When Owen stumbles across a novel entitled Raj Rogue, which he believes was written by Skinner, he sets out to find the thief and force a confrontation between the two old men. Owen’s quest takes him on a journey that eventually leads him not only to the truth of his father’s past but also into the depths of his own soul.

Ross and Owen are both likeable characters who must confront the political and social realities of their mixed-race heritage. Despite hardships, tragedy, and abuse, the Monroe family, as a whole, is endearingly functional (although Owen nearly becomes a significant exception). The story transitions smoothly between mid-twentieth-century India and present-day England. Vivid prose aside, much of the pleasure of reading The Bloodstone Papers is contemplating the many allegorical meanings of the stolen jewel. Certainly, the bloodstone symbolizes the future that was lost to the Anglo-Indians when the British Raj ended in 1947, but one can find many other delicious possibilities. This is a book to read and savor. Highly recommended.