When Maya’s husband dies in a climbing accident, she moves to Ranikhet, a hill station in the Himalayas. There she tries to forge a new life with Diwan Sahib, her landlord and eccentric scholar; Charu, an illiterate cowgirl and other quirky characters. When Diwan Sahib’s nephew Veer arrives, she is drawn to him, but their relationship is difficult.
Political and religious differences among the community create friction, and, as is usual in Indian novels, the underlying tragedy of the country’s past is never far away. However, there is comedy too as Roy finds humour in the bizarre behaviour of some of the characters.
I have always loved books about India, and this one is no exception. Roy’s precise prose creates the atmosphere of the hill town perfectly, and the characters are memorable and convincing. Many of the scenes are almost poetic, and some are heartbreaking.
This is a book about love, loss, conflict and change, captivating and beautifully written. I recommend it to individual readers and reading groups.