Hailed as one of the best books of 1998 by the Los Angeles Times, this group of twelve short stories was written over the past twenty years. From the steamy streets of New Delhi to New Yorks tony Upper East Side, Jhabvalas characters grapple with the universal quandaries of the human experiencejealousy, passion, temptation, and deceptiontruths of life and love that follow no matter where we wander. This collection features new short fiction from Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Booker Prizewinning author of Heat and Dust and Academy Awardwinning screenwriter of Howards End and A Room With a View . Written over the past twenty years, these engrossing stories are domestic tapestries, threaded with the emotional lives and complex psychologies of intense lovers, quarreling married couples, weary elders, and their restless adult children. Whether languishing inside their shuttered New Delhi homes or hosting dinner parties in the overfurnished apartments of their Manhattan high-rises, Jhabvalas characters grapple with the universal quandaries of the human experience--jealousy, passion, temptation, deception--and truths of life and love that follow no matter where we wander.
Written over twenty years and featuring settings that range from the crowded bazaars of India to New Yorks Upper East Side, this magnificent collection brings together fourteen new stories by a writer of unparalleled grace, insight, and emotional power. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, well-known for her Merchant-Ivory screenplays and her Booker Prize-winning novel Heat and Dust, claims unique territory in her short fiction, occupying the cusp between two worlds, India and the West. She expertly mingles the two in subject matter, perspective, and style to offer stories of universal appeal.Whether languishing inside their shuttered New Delhi homes or hosting dinner parties in their baroque Manhattan apartments, Jhabvalas characters are men and women of sensual passions and worldly ambition. They confront loneliness and neglect, struggle for independence in a world of manners and manipulations, and adjust to both welcome and unwelcome guests who stay too long and change their hosts lives in devastating ways. Hers are stories of elegance and exquisite delicacy, weaving complex domestic tapestries that range over entire lives.
A proper Indian gentleman tries to help his wayward younger brother. A grand hostess on the eve of Indias independence uses her power for personal and political ends. A frail New York socialite tries to understand her daughters alternative life. And a circle of emotionally empty, upperclass New Yorkers adopts an old Indian woman as their spiritual guide.To read these stories is to succumb to the power of a true master--a writer who spans two worlds and who uses this singular perspective to illuminate hidden truths. The sensuousness of India, the neuroses of New York--both are portrayed vividly in these powerful narratives and marvelous entertainments.
From Booker-winner Jhabvala (Shards of Memory, 1995, etc.) comes fourteen compressed stories (five published previously), mostly set in New Delhi or New York, in which themes of rivalry, family discord, and loyalty at odds with convention are explored with consummate grace and skill. For the six tales from India, the ministerial level of civil service in the generations living after Indian independence (1947) offers a frequent point of departure: In one story ("Independence"), a woman lends her expertise to arranging proper social functions for less sophisticated members of the new Indian ruling class, thereby rousing the scorn of her drunken poet husband, and finds a sweet but fitful solace in the arms of a general being groomed as Minister of Defense; in another, a college boy, expected by his mother to follow in the footsteps of her illustrious family, falters when his girlfriend's father, prominent in government, is forced from office in a bribery scandal ("A New Delhi Romance"). As for the seven New York pieces, a curious picture of life on the Upper East Side emerges as sex looms large to skew normal relations: A young wife watches as her husband pursues various men from their beach house, then has to put up with her mother falling head over heels for one of his conquests ("A Summer by the Sea"). Elsewhere, a daughter's preference for carpentry and the willowy clerk in a cheese shop is not what her frosty, chauffeur-driven mama had in mind ("Broken Promises"). The gem here, though, is set in London, where an emigre writer's struggle to balance a need for both his wife and his mistress is observed by his young granddaughter ("Two Muses"). Each piece of Jhabvala's worldly mosaic offers precise, subtle views of people who are trying to make the best of their lives: their essential humanity remains compelling - even if their circumstances sometimes seem too much alike. (Kirkus Reviews)