Nanda Kaul is old. She has chosen to spend her last years high up in the mountains where she can arrange her thoughts into tranquility. But her solitude is broken when her fragile and secretive great-grand-daughter, Raka, comes to stay. It is an intrusion Nanda Kaul deeply resents, but this child has a capacity to change things. Through the long hot summer months hidden dependencies and old wounds are uncovered, until tragedy seems as inevitable as a forest fire on the hillsides surrounding the villa.
Anita Desai's lyrical yet pointed prose powerfully draws the portrait of a woman who can never blossom into her own in such an arid social landscape.