Author: Attia Hosain
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0140123504
With its beautiful evocation of India, its political insight and unsentimental understanding of the human heart, this book is a classic of Muslim life.
Laila, orphaned daughter of a distinguished Muslim family, is brought up in her grandfather's household by orthodox aunts who keep purdah. At fifteen she moves to the home of a 'liberal' but autocratic uncle in Lucknow. Here, during the 1930s, as the struggle for Indian independence sharpens, Laila is surrounded by relatives and university friends caught up in politics.
But Laila is unable to commit herself to any cause: her own fight for independence is a struggle against the claustrophobia of traditional life, from which she only breaks away when she falls in love with a man whom her family has not chosen for her.
In a long preface introducing the author and her novel, Anita Desai says: To read her novel and short stories is to become aware of the many and varied threads that go to make up a rich and interesting life as well as the many doubts and struggles and contradictions it contained. They reflect her pride in ancestry and heredity as well as sorrow at the frequency with which they are tarnished by some heedless, unjust or selfish action.