In January, 1933, Marie-Santana Pereira returns to Tivolem, Goa, which she last saw as a child twenty-three years before. Her parents, with whom she lived, died in another Portuguese colony, Mozambique, eight years before, and her family business in Mozambique has folded. Marie-Santana hopes that her grandmother, Angelinh’ Granny, with whom she plans to live, is in good health.

Marie-Santana has not announced her return. She did not write her grandmother because in Mozambique her business partner cheated her out of her fortune. Marie-Santana assumed that Angelinh’ Granny, whose eyes are weak, would take a letter explaining such things to a neighbor to be read, thus making the family the subject of embarrassing gossip in Tivolem. Angelinh’ Granny’s mind is not weak, however, and she soon intuits what happened to Marie-Santana’s business in Mozambique, asking her, “What happened to your inheritance? The man who stole it, you trusted him. Were you in love with him?” The man was Marie-Santana’s business partner. Angelinh’ Granny also drops many hints that Marie-Santana should interest herself in a man, in particular Simon Fernandes, a nice, shy neighbor who plays the violin and who, like Marie-Santana, has recently returned to Tivolem after a long absence.

While other inhabitants of Tivolem talk about the far-off political events such as looming war in Europe and the Indian independence movement that will soon change their lives, Marie-Santana overcomes her reluctance to love again, fends off an unwanted suitor, and agrees to marry Simon in what promises to be a happy union.

TIVOLEM is an enchanting portrait of a rich, lost culture.