The police snubbed Christopher and detained the driver; they interrogated him for about fifteen minutes and let him go… Christopher sauntered to the back of the wagon without a hand being laid on him. He peered through the bars, in a way no Indi- an would have been allowed to; we come and go as we like in this country. They’re used to tourists and foreign residents. We’re of no consequence.
Christopher, an Australian, enrols at Suryanagar with other foreigners. Among them is Hero, an Armenian from London who claims to be in India only to spin out an inheritance. But her whitewashed room and the study of Sanskrit nouns cannot keep the world at bay for Hero: it pursues her there, in the form of her brother, a romantic nationalist, in India on a mission of his own. At the point at which this novel opens, the brother is awaiting trial for attempted murder. Hero, warding off shock and contrition, sets out on a voyage of discovery, or self-discovery: she cannot be sure of which. And of all possible companions, she chooses Christopher: first for a trial visit to Hyder- abad, to take leave of her brother, and then the real thing, the exploration of India beginning from the banks of the sacred Godavari…
A View from the Bund is a novel of white foreigners in India. It is also an ex- ploration of Western liberal perceptions, not only of India, but also of an individual’s place in the world.
After a lifetime in India, Philip returns to Australia in 2001, seeking to re-establish links with his estranged wife Jenny, whom he had married in India fifty years earlier. Displaced and disappointed in his hopes of resuming a career in his own country, Philip is visited by a ghost: Ragini, the young revolutionary he fell in love with in 1948. And difficult memories are revived.
In 1948 India has achieved its independence, but the princely state of Hyderabad— the Nizam’s Dominions—with its feudal splendours and deep pockets of rural poverty and injustice, totters alone, unwilling to accede to India, and fighting Communist insurrection within. Philip, ‘the world’s youngest headmaster’, has been appointed from Australia to a one-teacher school in the distant town of Warangal, a post no Hindu will take. There, he meets Anand, a Congress Party member working to bring Hyderabad into the Indian Union, and Ragini, a landlord’s daughter and a Communist, who has given away the family lands. A love triangle develops as events sweep them up—events that will return to life and take their toll half a century later.
The Last Candles of the Night is a lyrical and moving tale of the unpredictable progress of love, the pitfalls of memory, and the costs of deep allegiance.