THE JUNGLE LAW

Victoria Vinton

The author Rudyard Kipling is familiar to most, especially his famed stories that make up The Jungle Book. However, a lesser known fact is that although he was born in India, Rudyard Kipling came to live in Vermont in 1892 with his American wife and set up home in Brattleboro. It was there that he wrote The Jungle Book, inspired by his love for the country of his birth.

Victoria Vinton’s The Jungle Law is a fictional account of the time the Kiplings spent in Vermont. Mixing fact and invention, Vinton parallels Kipling’s story with that of his neighbors’,

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The author Rudyard Kipling is familiar to most, especially his famed stories that make up The Jungle Book. However, a lesser known fact is that although he was born in India, Rudyard Kipling came to live in Vermont in 1892 with his American wife and set up home in Brattleboro. It was there that he wrote The Jungle Book, inspired by his love for the country of his birth.

Victoria Vinton’s The Jungle Law is a fictional account of the time the Kiplings spent in Vermont. Mixing fact and invention, Vinton parallels Kipling’s story with that of his neighbors’, the Connollys, who, like Kip­ling, came to Vermont to forge a better life but who are forced to question the decisions they have made in the wake of Kipling’s presence in their lives.

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  • MacAdam/Cage Publishing
  • Paperback
  • August 2006
  • 303 Pages
  • 9781596921993

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About Victoria Vinton

Victoria Vinton’s short stories have appeared in publications such as Sewanee Review and Prairie Schooner. A recipient of an Artist Fellowship from the New York Foundation of the Arts and a Masters of Fine Arts degree in writing from Columbia, she lives with her daughter in Brooklyn, New York, where she works as a literacy consultant for the New York City Public Schools. The Jungle Law is her first book.

Praise

“Vinton mines a rich vein of intensity whether writing about landscape and weather, or the soul-expanding possibilities of creative life . . . radiantly colored, sensuous, respectful, and rapt; an impressive debut.”—Kirkus

Discussion Questions

Rudyard Kipling and Joe Connolly are both powerfully drawn to the idea of an orphaned boy raised by a family of wolves. What compels them so much about that idea? Are they drawn to it for the same or dif­ferent reasons? And why do they also both seem to be drawn to the idea of a jungle ruled by strict laws?

What role does class play in the shaping of the characters’ identities, their interactions with each other, and the unfolding of events?

Caroline Kipling is frequently portrayed in the novel as a controlling and imperious figure. Can she also be seen as a sympathetic character?

At the end of the book, Vinton gives us a portrait of the aged Rudyard Kipling without providing a similar picture of the other characters. What do you imagine might have happened to the Connollys during those intervening years and how does the omission of that information affect you as a reader? What might have been Vinton’s reasons for not offering more about the Connollys?

Throughout much of the novel, Jack Connolly is motivated by anger and fear. What do you think he is really afraid of? What is he angry about?

In various ways the book explores the power of imagination, both as a vehicle for self-transformation and for self-deception? How do the dif­ferent characters use that power for both positive and negative ends?

The last chapter takes place forty-three years after the events that precede it, with a picture of Rudyard Kipling as a dissatisfied and com­promised man. Is that future foreseeable in the rest of the book, or— hindsight being hindsight, as Caroline Kipling says – can it only be seen retroactively? 

Kipling ends his life still haunted by his years in the House of Desola­tion. Joe repeats certain journeys and actions of his father while believ­ing himself a free agent. What do these and other incidents in the novel suggest about our ability to control our own fate?  And how does the story of Mowgli support or counter those suggestions?