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Prem is a recently married teacher who is neither very good at teaching nor at being married. He is promised an ally against his wife Indu, whom he regards with varying degrees of irritation, when his mother comes to visit. He soon finds, though, that maternal interference is far from helpful, and he receives comfort from an entirely unexpected quarter – his wife – as he discovers through her the joys of being a ‘settled husband and householder’.

From every page rise the heat, the smells, the flashing iridescent colours and the ceaseless rhythms of Indian life. And such is the strength of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s humorous and perceptive pen that this appealing tale of a young man trying to come to terms with marriage and maturity becomes more than a highly comic vignette of a particular society – it is also a reflection of a universal experience.


Deliciously droll, wickedly irreverent and altogether most satisfying
New York Times Book Review
All the figures in the book are irresistible comic manifestations. And they are fashioned in a prose that seems, without exertion, to have written itself
New Yorker
A delightfully lively and mobile story
New Statesman
I can't describe the humour, charm and deft obliquity with which Jhabvala draws from Prem's small self-knowledge . . . a cross-section as brilliantly penetrating as V. S. Naipaul's West Indian comedies: the picture of a society which has always known that dignity is the most precarious, absurd and rare of man's inventions