Katherine Frank, who was born and educated in the United States, is the author of three acclaimed biographies, of Lucie Duff Gordon, Emily Bronte and Mary Kingsley. She has taught at universities in West Africa and the Middle East as well as Britain. During six years of researching and writing Indira she spent extended periods in India. She now lives in England.
Hailed for A Passage to Egypt: The Life of Lucie Gordon Duff, Frank continues her exploration of interesting women. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
'A stunning biography. Indira Gandhi was voted Woman of the Millennium, and yet her story is of a woman pushed into the public eye by men, corrupted by power and assassinated by those she should have trusted best - her own bodyguards' Jenni Murray, Sunday Times 'Well-researched, convincing and impressively fair to its subject' Philip Ziegler, Daily Telegraph 'A fascinating account of how an unpromising, if privileged, girl came to lead the world's largest democracy. Anyone who wants to get to the heart of this extraordinary woman (and the extraordinary country which she mothered, cajoled and eventually came to embody), could not do better than this accomplished book' Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday 'Moving and revealing' Victoria Schofield, Financial Times 'An important study compelling and humanly sympathetic' Sunil Khilnani, Sunday Telegraph 'An excellent biography' Geoffrey Moorhouse, Guardian 'A fascinating, rigorous highly readable study' Caroline Macdonald, Scotsman
The most striking aspects of Frank's readable, well-wrought biography are Gandhi's sad childhood and her reluctance to enter politics. She attended upwards of seven schools in Switzerland, England and India and was often separated from her family her tubercular mother died when Indira was 19; her father and many family members were in and out of jail during the Independence Movement. Indira herself was sickly (she spent 10 months in a sanatorium in Switzerland during WWII), and, at 37, she wrote to a friend, "I am doing a tremendous amount of work these days but I have not discovered my m?tier yet." Schoolmate Iris Murdoch remembered Gandhi as "very unhappy, very lonely, intensely worried about her father and her country and thoroughly uncertain about the future." Only after the deaths of her husband, Feroze Gandhi; her father; Jawaharlal Nehru, independent India's first leader; and Lal Bahadur Shastri, his successor, did she come into her own politically. Not a political biography, Frank's book (via letters and conversations with close confidants) comes closest to showing the human Indira who joined politics because she felt duty-bound to uphold her father's secular, inclusive vision of her homeland. Frank (A Passage to Egypt: The Life of Lucie Duff Gordon; etc.) shows that Gandhi's increasing isolation, loss of confidence and closeness to her son, Sanjay, caused her later to impose the Emergency (suspending civil liberties and jailing opponents) and play castes, religions and political groups against one another contrary to her father's ideals. But she is far less knowable in the book's second and third sections, when she becomes the paranoid, ruthless leader remembered for her despotism. 12 pages b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Virginia Barber. (Aug. 14) Forecast: As the first biography of the late Indian leader, this will surely receive review attention and should sell well among those interested in India and in the life of an extraordinary woman. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.