Someone once said that the definition of the highest art is that one should feel that life is this and not otherwise. I do not know of a writer living who gives that feeling with more unqualified certainty than Mrs Jhabvala.' So wrote CP Snow, reviewing this collection of the stories of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, an acknowledged queen of the genre. Set - of course in India, these stories are concerned not so much with Europeans in India as with Indians themselves. They are about universal human passions - yet interwoven with India itself. The heat, the vastness, the loneliness of India are all reflected in the lives of the people living in a country that is not so much an additional character as, often, the most central one. As always she tells her tales with compassion, penetration and humor, and the blithe gift of narration familiar to the hundreds of thousands who have seen the films - such as her own Heat and Dust - she scripted for the legendary Merchant Ivory team, and who have delighted in her novels.
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