Read Breakfast With The Nikolides by Rumer Godden Online


A story of childhood set in the hot and turbulent Indian plains. Louise sets out to India with her two daughters to stay with her estranged husband. They arrive at his farm in the vast and unstable plains of East Bengal and almost immediately the fragile relationships between the four family members start to break down. There are fierce tensions between Louise and her husbA story of childhood set in the hot and turbulent Indian plains. Louise sets out to India with her two daughters to stay with her estranged husband. They arrive at his farm in the vast and unstable plains of East Bengal and almost immediately the fragile relationships between the four family members start to break down. There are fierce tensions between Louise and her husband Charles which are echoed in the cracks and holes in the fabric of the house, and between Louise and Emily, her eldest daughter. These strains erupt into outright war after the death of Emily's beloved spaniel Don, a gift from her father, at the hands of her mother. This is an intense and passionate novel about growing up in India....

Title : Breakfast With The Nikolides
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780330487818
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 225 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Breakfast With The Nikolides Reviews

  • Dorcas
    2019-02-05 18:56

    3.5 StarsThis is a very odd book, I haven't read another quite like it. The writing itself seems fragmented; sometimes it's difficult to know the difference between actual happenings and thought sequences, which gives the reader an almost out of body experience. The story is rather melancholic, which puts one in a thoughtful mood and I found the writing both spare and incredibly lush, which kept me reading on.The setting is India. A European man runs a model farm/ college where he teaches planting and farming skills. He lives alone for eight years...until his estranged wife and their two daughters arrive unexpectedly, fleeing the war in France.From the beginning we sense the tension and antagonism between the couple, and hints of violent unrest litter the novel. (One such clue being the furniture of the home which has all been broken and pieced back together, as well as an ax that hangs over the fireplace mantle carefully shined and polished).  Not long into the story the attention shifts to their awkward 12 year old daughter, Emily and her love for her dog who dies under mysterious circumstances...this, strangely enough, becomes the focal point from which other plots satellite.Meanwhile, there is a forbidden friendship (romance?) between a Brahmin student and an Untouchable man of learning, a veterinarian.Tensions, accusations, repercussions, tragedy, possible reconciliation. It's all here.CONTENT: Some thematic elements regarding domestic violence, marital rape and possible homosexual leanings on the part of at least one character. Nothing in detail.

  • Katya
    2019-02-10 15:54

    This is the fifth book-length work of fiction by Rumer Godden, published in 1942. This year---2016---is my year to read everything that Rumer Godden wrote, in chronological order of publication. I first read Ms. Godden in 1964, and she became one of my favorite authors at that time. I am having fun gathering all my own copies of her works and filling in the gaps in my collection with the help of Amazon, Biblio, etc. Rumer Godden was a prolific author of more than sixty fiction and non-fiction books. She wrote a few additional books with her sister, Jon Godden, also a fine writer. They were raised in colonial India, where their father was a British shipping company executive. Rumer loved India and her writing is unique for her point-of-view. Many of her works depict an India in the waning years of the British Raj, with tumultous change looming in the distance."Breakfast with the Nikolides" reflects another of Ms. Godden's themes...the wall that can exist between children and adults and the trouble that can cause. The story is set in a village in East Bengal in the time of the British Raj. An English family reunites and falls apart, and so does the Indian community around them.

  • Ali
    2019-02-18 13:49

    Many of Rumer Godden’s novels are set in India and I really like novels set in India – so it is perhaps surprising that I have not read more of her novels. I have only read about four of Rumer Godden’s adult novels, and I really can’t remember if I read any of her children’s books when I was a child, I may have read The Diddakoi – possibly her most famous children’s book. Rumer Godden whose last book was published in 1997 was an extraordinarily prolific writer, with about twenty seven adult novels, the same number of children’s books, and eleven works of non-fiction to her name. I have to say though that I am rather glad that I still have so many of her books left to read, and anticipate them eagerly. Virago has re-issued a large number of Rumer Godden novels with gorgeous covers. I have occasionally been critical of the cover art selected for the new style VMC’s – but these I think are lovely. I have two more of these newly issued Godden’s TBR and I am really looking forward to them.Breakfast with the Nikolides is a peculiar little story – but it is one that packs something of a punch. The setting is East Bengal in a small agricultural town by a river. Charles Poole is in charge of the government farm of Amorra, on the same site is the agricultural college, where students work under the principle Sir Monmatha Ghose. Having lived in Amorra alone for eight years – Charles stuns the community with the sudden and inexplicable appearance of a wife and two daughters who have fled the war in Paris. Louise, Charles’s wife, is a complex damaged woman, she hates India, and she hates everything about it – is suspicious of it, and dislikes the people. Their eldest daughter is Emily an angry dreamer on the brink of adolescence has a very difficult relationship with her mother, but instantly adores the father she barely knows. Emily’s younger sister, Binnie, is the child born after the parents separated. Emily quickly falls in love with India, for her it is an exotic exciting place that she loves to explore. Emily and Binnie are enchanted by their glamorous neighbours the Nikolides, with whose children they occasionally play. Charles gives Emily a spaniel, that she names Don, he becomes a constant companion. One day Don is killed, and it is the deceit that surrounds this one incident that serves to unravel the fragile truths of their family life, and culminates in drawing in the whole community in violent uprising. “Mother was clever. She knew how I felt about the Nikolides, she knew I would forget everything for them… And it seemed to Emily sheer treachery that Louise should have used them against her. One thing – said Emily – I shall never go blind like that again. I shall never be blind…And even to so young a girl as Emily there was something pitiable in the loss of heedlessness. Breakfast with the Nikolides was always to be the last hour of her childhood.”We also meet young vet Narayan Das struggling to reconcile his young wife’s Hindu traditions with the modern westernised world he is trying to fit into. Narayan’s friend and student Anil working towards his final exams is also drawn into the drama that unfolds.Breakfast with the Nikolides explores the dark and complex relationship between Charles and Louise – the truth of which is slowly revealed. Charles is something of an enigma, Louise a cold beauty who constantly misunderstands her eldest daughter – she is using Charles as an escape from German occupied France and can’t wait to return to Paris. The novel also examines loss of innocence and betrayal. Rumer Godden’s sense of place is excellent, a small Indian town on the banks of a river, young idealised students and modern thinking men juxtaposed with traditional beliefs and suspicions.

  • Pippa
    2019-01-22 18:41

    My only quibble with this book was that Rumer Godden seems to write the same people over and over again. There is never any doubt who she is, either. Perhaps this sums up what I feel about her. She is not great at creating characters; she uses the ones she knows over and over again. BUT the style, and the beauty of the language, and the accuracy of the fine, detailed descriptions do make this a great book, like all her others. I loved it.

  • Linera
    2019-01-28 16:36

    Plot comes from characters, end is mirrored in beginning, bitter, pungent quality to the settings, very sensual, strong sense of place. Complex relationships, expert use of scene and narrative.

  • Rhonda
    2019-02-08 14:36

    Wonderful and EvocativeWhat a pleasure this was, discovering my first Rumer Godden book! The sense of place was immersive. You could smell the smells of cardamom and curry and decay. You could hear the bells and the insects and the muezzin and the chittering of the lizards on the walls. You also felt the oppressive heat and longed for a brush of cool breeze. Though really just sketches, the characters nonetheless were rich and thoughtful and the author moved amongst their points of view brilliantly. In it all is a compassionate wisdom for the human condition, in its frailties and cruelties and desire for meaning. This is a parable, a jataka, a morality tale, but of the gentlest, most forgiving sort. I cannot wait to read my next Godden novel.x

  • Lynne Norman
    2019-02-19 13:50

    Not sure what to make of this book. The story was interesting, although it ultimately goes nowhere. There were some moments of beautiful prose, alongside really clumsy exposition. The characters were fascinating and complex, but you never really got to the bottom of any of them and the ones you did become more familiar with - namely Louise and Emily - drove you to frustration. The 'big reveal' with regards to the history of Louise and Charles' relationship was shocking - but I found it quite uncomfortable that Charles' behaviour was almost explained away by Louise's poor treatment of him...All in all, I'm not sure where to land with regards to how I feel about Breakfast with the Nikolides, but I am glad to have read it and would read more Godden.

  • Barb
    2019-02-07 14:51

    Though sometimes listed as one of Rumer Godden’s “children’s” books, Breakfast with the Nikolides is a decidedly adult novel, chock full of dark and difficult themes: sexual desire, frustration, betrayal, revenge, reconciliation. Written early in her long career, the fifth of her twenty-four novels, Godden remarked that though the book was received without much comment, it came very close to her personal goal of “truthful writing”.This is one of the “Indian” novels, started in 1940 as Rumer, her two young daughters and their governess sailed back to India, where Rumer had already spent the majority of her life, to escape the potential German invasion of England at the start of WW II.Inspired by Rumer’s experiences living in the rural Bengali area of India as the daughter of British Colonialists, the vivid depictions of the setting and supporting characters were drawn from first-hand observation and feel clear and true. This was one of the novels Rumer Godden felt was “vouchsafed” to her – she drew a definite distinction between “a book written when you are looking for something to write, searching for a theme, and one that seems to arise of itself, demanding to be written.” Breakfast with the Nikolides was a book that demanded to be written, and though it seems at times the author is still working on clarifying her “voice”, on the whole it is a successful experiment.In the small East Bengal town of Amorra, the Government Agricultural Farm flourishes under the guidance of English agriculturalist Charles Pool. Though he has lived and worked intimately with the local community, he still remains, after eight years, something of a mystery man. The assumption is that he is a bachelor of celibate habits; he lives an exemplary life of dedication to his goal of converting the local farmers to his new and productive ideas, and he is a respected lecturer at the progressive agricultural college which has now been established at the farm.One day Charles goes down to the jetty on the river to meet the paddle-wheel steamer, where he meets a beautiful woman and two young girls – his wife Louise and their daughters. Louise, 11-year-old Emily and 8-year-old Binnie have travelled the long and arduous way from war-torn France where they had been living until forced to flee the German occupation.Emily and Binnie are enthralled with their new environment; Emily in particular hopes that she will never have to leave. Her father, against her mother’s wishes, gives her a spaniel puppy, Don, and this action precipitates a far-reaching set of events ending both in tragedy and elemental change for all of the protagonists.Lovely Louise is a woman with some serious personal issues. Long estranged from her husband for reasons which we gradually get some clues about, she also has a very difficult relationship with her eldest daughter, whom she seems to misread at every turn. Despite Louise’s insistence that their unification as a family is only temporary, Charles and Emily begin to gradually build up a fragile relationship of trust and affection, which Louise openly resents. She is not looking for a reconciliation; rather she has turned to Charles as a temporary refuge until the war is over; she makes it clear that as soon as she can she will return with her daughters to “civilization”.The spaniel Don becomes sick; Louise suspects rabies, and, without explanation and in an attempt to shelter her daughters from an emotional trauma and a real physical danger, sends the girls for an unexpected morning visit to a neighbouring family. “Breakfast with the Nikolides” is an unexpected treat, and the girls happily go off, unsuspecting of the drama that will ensue upon their return. (One of my personal small disappointments in this novel is the too-brief introduction to the rather intriguing Nikolides children, Jason and Alexandra, whom we tantalizingly meet for only a few moments before the story whirls on its way without them.)The young college veterinarian, Narayan Das, becomes involved in the saga, as does one of the agricultural students, Anil, passionate and poetical son of a wealthy and influential Brahmin family.As events unfold, we see that the marriage of Charles and Louise has foundered because of deep faults on both sides; neither party is innocent here, and though we never get the full details, we learn enough to sympathize even more deeply with the children of this tempestuous union. Godden concentrates to a great degree on showing us the feelings of Emily, who perhaps could be described as the chief character; another one of Godden’s “waifs in the storm” who suffer as the adults in their lives behave badly. Our heroine Emily weathers this episode of the familial storm, and, though emotionally battered and bruised, finds a certain peace of her own by the story’s end, though there are many loose ends left unravelled, just as in “real life”.The place-portrait of the Indian village is also one of this book’s strengths; Godden’s intimate familiarity with the time and place she writes about is apparent in her clean yet detailed descriptions. Very nicely done.This is a novel for mature teens and adults, who would best be able to appreciate what the author has presented here; I suspect a younger reader would soon lose interest.I had to double-check the publication date; this novel has a very contemporary feel to it. Well worth reading, and a good companion piece to Godden’s other adult novels, which show a range of styles as she continually experimented with and honed her considerable craft.

  • Maura
    2019-01-24 16:50

    I am still musing over the title of this one. Rumer Godden's novels are always thought-provoking; this one is no exception. The breakfast and the Nikolides seem to hardly figure in the story at all, so what meaning do they have to be chosen for the title? Godden often refers to past events so obliquely that you have to read like a detective, combing the text for clues and meanings. But it makes every word significant. I would not count this as a favorite - I didn't enjoy it as much as many of her other novels, but it was interesting nonetheless.

  • Ry Herman
    2019-01-26 19:46

    I was all in on this book for about the first three quarters of it, and then in the end it just kind of falls apart. After that, it doesn't really recover until the last two pages or so. There's still much to admire in the writing (not surprising from the author of An Episode of Sparrows), and the mother-daughter tension between Louise and Emily is electric, but it's not enough to completely make up for the problems.

  • Margaret Wichorek
    2019-02-14 12:56

    Beautifully written coming of age novel about a young girl, Emily, who returns to India with her little sister, Binnie and her mother because they had to leave France because of the Nazi invasion. The mother, Louise, had left her husband eight years earlier. She hated India and her husband , Charles, refused to leave. He was in charge of a large model farm and his mission was to instruct Indian farmers on modern methods, so that they could have better crops and conserve the land. There was also an AG college on the grounds. Because of a very thoughtlessly cruel act, Emily becomes completely estranged from her mother and much heartache ensues before a sort of reconciliation occurs. The author writes such wonderful descriptions of both the land and he characters. Wonderful book. I've always been an admirer o Godden's books and this is one of her best. Black Narcissus is probably her best known, though.

  • Rose
    2019-02-03 15:36

    Setting India. It has been many years since I have read Rumer Godden, a gifted author.

  • Nancy
    2019-02-03 17:37

    A look into the Indian cast system, with a bit of To Kill a Mockingbird thrown it.

  • Mary
    2019-02-02 11:38

    DescriptionsThe descriptions were so clear that I really felt I was in the settings. Could have used a little more dialogue.Made me more excited about going to India in Nov.

  • Christiane
    2019-01-28 14:46

    I find it difficult to rate this novel. The same as with her autobiography (“A Time to Dance, no Time to Weep”) I love Rumer Godden's brilliantly atmospheric descriptions of India but am not as enthusiastic about her characters. Her dogs are real, but her humans never seem quite fully realized, a bit stiff and awkward, with stilted dialogues/interior monologues. This is – potentially – a very good story, I just wish someone else (Somerset Maugham, maybe ?) had written it.

  • Catherinehaine Haines
    2019-01-28 14:45

    An interesting book which is set in India . I enjoyed to how the different sects and cultures perceive each other. At times I became a bit confused as it jumped from one person to another. On the whole a fascinating book but not an easy read.

  • Katie
    2019-02-10 18:50

    I thought this book was a brilliant read. I have to say that I don't tend to read culture/religion genre of books but this one seemed to of grabbed me.The setting was in India where Charles Pool lived, and his wife Louise came from France in the middle of the war with both of her children - Binnie and Emily. Emily loved India and how beautiful it was, however her mother Louise hated all that India had to offer - She hated the smells, the scenery and even the people.Breakfast with the Nikolides is a great read and I would recommend it, however I still don't fully understand some parts of the book. One bad point about this book is that there were so many different characters introduced at the beginning of the book, and all of them was known by more than one name for example Charles was known as Mr Pool and Anil was known as Indro - Which makes sense now but when I first began reading this book I had to keep flicking back through it to check I was reading about Charlie and not another relative of his. I thought this book was going to be more about "Breakfast with the Nikolides" (as the title may suggest) but it seems to be more about India itself and more about the people (and dogs) who live there. In conclusion to this; I don't think the title of the book sums up what it contains, I wasn't expecting to read what I read, but all in all it was a good read and I finished it - which is always a good thing!I would give it an overall rating of 8/10

  • Paula Sealey
    2019-02-07 14:39

    Breakfast with the Nikolides is an unusual book set in East Bengal, India in a small agricultural town. There are many characters, which is a little off putting at first, but they merge together wonderfully as the story progresses.Hardworking and respected Englishman Charles Pool, builds up and then runs the Government farm. After living alone for 8 years, he suddenly produces his wife and their two daughters. Louise, 11 year old Emily and 8 year old Binnie have fled from France and impending occupation by the Germans. Louise has many issues, she doesn't like the village, and she can not get along with Emily. Emily, meanwhile, has to cope with the effects her mother has on her. Emily adores Charles though, and he gifts her a dog, Don, which subsequently dies while she is at breakfast with the Nikolides family, the catalyst for the chain of events to come.I really appreciated the rich details in this book, especially the setting itself of which the author had first hand knowledge. All of the characters seemed to contribute something worthwhile to the storyline and they wove together really well. A very good read, packed full of tension!

  • F
    2019-02-19 13:46

    I regret that it has taken me so long to appreciate Rumer Godden, whom my sister has recommended to me more or less all my life. Only having now lived in Pakistan for 3 years do I appreciate how well she writes about the Indian sub-continent. Her descriptions of the natural world, of the sights and sounds of human life are vivid and bring what I saw and experienced straight back into my mind. I was given this novel as a present in 1984 and it has taken me 32 years to get round to reading it, and I found I could not put it down and was gripped from start to finish. Difficult adolescent girls are also a specialty of Rumer Godden's, in my experience, and I assume she writes from experience, as it rings so true. A very worthwhile read and I am sorry that I have now finished it!

  • Maria Renate
    2019-02-13 11:43

    A deeply emotional and sensitive tale set in Godden's beloved India, following especially young Emily as she tries to learn how to grow up in a tense household fraught with hidden conflict between her estranged parents. The Blitz is happening all over Europe, and her troubled mother flees to India with her two daughters to the father they had never met. There, one fateful morning, Emily is told she is going to go to breakfast with the delightful Nikolides, a Grecian family that lives across the river...

  • Meredith
    2019-02-11 14:38

    I really like a story that unfolds like a puzzle, mixing hints from the past and insights from the future, the ugly and the beautiful, the vague and the specific. That is this book, one I think I will read again in the future with pleasure. I preferred it to Kingfishers Catch Fire, the only other Godden I have read to date, because Louise, though perhaps more toxic than Sophie, is also more fractured and therefore more understandable, whereas Sophie is just frustrating and annoying. The other characters are also more compelling and their stories better told.

  • Carolyn Johnson
    2019-02-11 11:50

    THis book, written early in Rumer Godden's career as a writer in 1942, was not my favorite by her. The plot was quite similar to other better written books, such as "The Raj Quartet," by Paul Scott. An native born Indian is accused of some dark deed against a white female, in this case, a thirteen year old girl.However, the parts of the book about the two young girls and their exploring their lush Indian environment, are vivid in their detail, and seem more true. I had read this book in my teens, and rereading it was very enjoyable.

  • Maggie Salisbury
    2019-02-16 16:32

    A long-neglected beauty, unforgivably and repeatedly out of print--like so many of Godden's novels. Reminiscent of Virginia Woolf and Molly Keane, and very akin to Forster's A Passage to India. Deep, dark; with a gossamer plot that slowly tightens around you like a spiderweb; packs an emotional wallop. Touches on all the best empire-builders-among-the-natives themes.

  • Lesley
    2019-02-10 15:46

    Not one of the top Goddens in my book, but not one of the ones I really can't get on with at all. The initial generalisations about 'Indians' were somewhat tooth-setting-on-edge but then she does go on to do well-differentiated and rounded Indian characters in the succeeding narrative.

  • Jennifer
    2019-02-17 12:35

    I read this book on vacation and it was nothing short of amazing. I was so impressed by her economy of language, and perfectly worded descriptions of people and places. She didn't need to be verbose or flowery, she nailed it. So good!

  • Sara
    2019-02-05 16:27

    A loss of innocence, a tragic death, the cruel vulnerability of human emotion and thought. A masterful and inspired work.

  • Beverly
    2019-01-26 15:40

    Not really about having breakfast with the Nikolides. Godden knows her India, but I keep feeling I've read versions of this before (Passage to India?)

  • Maren
    2019-01-24 17:39

    I didn't like this as much as Rumer Godden's other books. I get the feeling it was autobiographical and the worse for that.

  • Katherine Simmons
    2019-02-10 13:36

    Good solid read but not as good as BN which the book and film that I hold as her best.

  • Jo
    2019-02-16 19:47

    Incredibly atmospheric book. It definitely sweeps you in and grips you so you feel the heat of Bengal and the tensions which erupt from the clash of cultures. Loved it.