In a remote town in the Himalaya, Maya tries to put behind her a time of great sorrow. By day she teaches in a school and at night she types up drafts of a magnum opus by her landlord, a relic of princely India known to all as Diwan Sahib. Her bond with this eccentric, and her friendship with a peasant girl, Charu, give her the sense that she might be able to forge a new existence away from the devastation of her past. As Maya finds out, no place is remote enough or small enough.
The world she has come to love, where people are connected with nature, is endangered by the town's new administration. The impending elections are hijacked by powerful outsiders who divide people and threaten the future of her school. Charu begins to behave strangely, and soon Maya understands that a new boy in the neighbourhood may be responsible. When Diwan Sahib's nephew arrives to set up his trekking company on their estate, she is drawn to him despite herself, and finally she is forced to confront bitter and terrible truths.
A many-layered and powerful narrative, by turns poetic, elegiac and comic, by the author of An Atlas of Impossible Longing.
After her husband, Michael, dies in a mountain-climbing mishap, Maya flees to the tiny Himalayan town of Ranikhet to escape her past and find peace. While teaching English at a Christian school, she befriends her teenage neighbor and milk delivery girl, Charu, whose lover, Kundan, has recently left the village to work in Delhi. Though he sends Charu letters, she cannot read or write. Maya takes on the role of interlocutor initially, but soon begins teaching Charu so that she can continue the epistolary romance on her own. Meanwhile, Maya finds herself caught up in an unexpected love affair with her landlord's nephew, Veer. Though she has acclimated well to life in the village ("I became a hill person who was only at peace where the earth rose and fell in waves like the sea"), the premature death of her husband still haunts her. Veer seems to be the key to overcoming her grief, but revelations of his past threaten the emotional enclave Maya has fashioned for herself in the lush Indian hills. Similar to the pace of life in the village, Roy's follow-up to An Atlas of Impossible Longing is occasionally slow going but her musical writing and strong imagery compensate, and individual moments sparkle.