Probably most Americans who recognize the name of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala know her mainly as a screenwriter, one third of the celebrated international movie-making team whose other members are the Indian producer Ismail Merchant and the American director James Ivory. In this country, at least, Jhabvala and her partners are known almost exclusively for three recent films that were based upon major modern novels: The Europeans (1978) and The Bostonians (1984) both derived from works by Henry James, and A Room with a View was an adaptation of one of E. M. Forster’s less familiar novels. Though many reviewers carped about the casting and the slow pace (among other things) of the first two films, even the harshest critics almost invariably praised the filmmakers for their seriousness, for their wonderful attention to period detail, and for their manifest effort to be as faithful as possible not only...


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