Four evocative and moving works of fiction set in India from the New York Times–bestselling author of Black Narcissus—including her final novel.
Having spent her formative years in colonial India, British novelist Rumer Godden would continue to return to that setting for inspiration throughout her career—from her best known work about five nuns in a Himalayan convent, Black Narcissus, to her final novel, Cromartie vs. the God Shiva. The four novels in this volume each reveal in their own way Godden’s “magical skill in conjuring up with a few suggestive details a veritable panorama of Indian life” (The New York Times). And, like all of Godden’s fiction, they “have one important thing in common: They are beautifully and simply wrought by a woman of depth and sensitivity” (Los Angeles Times).
Cromartie vs. the God Shiva: In Godden’s final novel, inspired by a real event, the theft of a precious statuette of the Hindu god Shiva from a hotel in India leads to love, intrigue, death, and legal complications. Even as Sydney Cromartie, the Canadian now in possession of the statue, fights to retain ownership, British barrister Michael Dean is dispatched to Patna Hall on the Coromandel Coast (previously appearing in Godden’s Coromandel Sea Change), where everyone is a suspect, including proprietress Auntie Sanni, to solve the mystery.
“A complex tale, fraught with mystery . . . Readers who enjoy far-away cultures will find this tale a treat.” —Library Journal
The Lady and the Unicorn: Battling poverty and prejudice, the three “half-caste” daughters of an Englishman and an Indian mother live with their widowed father and “Auntie” in a crumbling mansion in 1930s Calcutta. Tough-minded Belle Lemarchant is determined to improve her lot in life, while her twin, Rosa, looks for escape in romance, and their younger, darker-skinned sibling, Blanche, wanders the halls and grounds, communing with ghosts. A powerful coming-of-age story in a society blinded by caste divisions, Godden’s novel is a heartbreaking human drama.
“One of the delights of reading a Rumer Godden novel is the magnetic pull of the exotic settings, affecting readers and characters alike.” —Newsday
The Peacock Spring: When Una, fifteen, and her twelve-year-old sister, Halcyon, are summoned from their English boarding school to join their diplomat father in New Delhi, they encounter an exotic new world, racial prejudice, and a calculating Eurasian governess, whose relationship with their father seems troubling in its intimacy. When Una becomes friends with Ravi, a young Indian gardener, their forbidden attraction threatens to end in scandal and disaster.
“Ms. Godden . . . has a wonderful way with fictional children, tender and true and never sentimental.” —The New York Times
Coromandel Sea Change: With an election coming, business is brisk at Patna Hall, a resort hotel on the lush Coromandel Coast in southern India. Anglo-Indian hotel owner Auntie Sanni has her hands full with Indian politicians, British diplomats, a journalist involved in espionage, a woman of mystery, and an English couple on their honeymoon whose new marriage is strained by their conflicting responses to India. As the nearby Coromandel Sea is teeming with sharks, so is Patna Hall brimming with adultery, blackmail, and intrigue.
“[A] sense of timelessness reminiscent of E. M. Forster.” —The Times