There’s a couple of distinct, though intertwined, story lines in this book. What probably accounts for the “main” story line, is Sai, the granddaughter of a retired judge, and their relationship–as well as Sai’s relationship with her tutor.
Set in the 1980’s in India though right up against the border with Nepal–and right up against the Indian-Nepali politics of the region, Sai’s tutor is Nepali and their illicit love is wrapped up in the Nepali riots.
Sai’s grandfather, the retired judge, employs a cook, who has sent his adult son to the U.S. to live (both meagerly and illegally).
Nearby Sai and her grandfather are two old ladies, who are obsessed with England. They order tea and biscuits from the U.K. and disdain all things Indian (though they are Indian themselves).
Sai’s grandfather reminisces about his own time in England in the 1930’s when he studied at Cambridge University.
Many themes run throughout this book, including, but not limited to:
- Family (particularly concerning generations)
- British influence on India
- Ethnic divisions
- Economics–both privilege and hardship in the 3rd world and in the West