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Sensuous generational novel about a Sikh mother whose secret past corrodes her life with tragic consequences for all - by a 29 year old first time author.

‘Take off your clothes I want to see you’ Karam said.Just a few words, spoken like a caress made Sarna start wondering. Where did he learn such new and passionate techniques?

When Sarna Singh leaves the lustrous green hills of Uganda for England, streets of cramped old houses were not what she was expecting. Husband Karam has been seduced by the historical feel of the city of London. Sarna, however, is convinced they have moved to England so he can visit his secret London lady friends. Sarna has a secret of her own, but she is adept at hiding it. She impresses her English teacher with her attempt at a cutglass accent, and copious gifts of delicious food. With two children to educate, money is scarce, and soon, she is devising weekly shoplifting expeditions to the supermarket.

But all the while, Sarna is tormented by a mistake she made as a young woman in India. To stifle unwanted memories, she cooks zealously, sweetening her thoughts with syrup, or suffocating them with the hottest spice she can find. But when she receives an unexpected letter from back home, her assumed equilibrium is shattered to the skies. It carries an ultimatum she cannot ignore …

Set on an epic backdrop from Partition, the Coronation and Churchill’s funeral, to the present day, Priya Basil explores with compassion, the universal complexities of vanity and love. Her sensuous portrayal of the trials and tribulations of the Singh family carries universal truths for all of us.

Reviews

An enticing debut novel by a much-vaunted young novelist

The Glasgow Herald

A brilliantly woven tale . . . clever and often funny

Candis

A dark meditation on escapism and reinvention

Irish Tatler

The product of a deft hand that mixes engrossing narrative with unexpected dashes of magical realism

India Today

An astonishing novel

ExBerliner

With a verve for the colour of life, this book . . . surprises with its underlying wisdom

6 Great Reads, Good Housekeeping

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780552773843

    May 1, 2008

    Black Swan

    512 pages

    RRP $22.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Priya Basil

The Obscure Logic of the Heart

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