The author starts off this novel in good style, promising much as we watch shy pre-teenage Tamarind left behind abroad by her father for a week in order to meet the Indian side of her family previously unknown to her. The bewilderment but also the excitement of coming across a new country full of colour and rich in marvellous food is well put over. But once installed in the family home, a huge house surrounded by gardens set in the Himalayas, Tamarind, up to this point rather too much given to sudden tears, meets a mysterious girl by night with whom she goes on to have various adventures. And this figure turns out to be her own mother, who died giving birth but manifests herself once more to meet her only daughter. This also involves some reaching into ancient religious beliefs, one of which involves Hanu, an almost human pet monkey.
The plot then hovers uneasily between fantasy and reality, never quite deciding which one to plump for and finally doing justice to neither. A credibility gap steadily widens when her Indian family persistently fail to notice that their young guest is spending most nights outside. Grammar as well as plausibility also starts to suffer. ‘She pushes Arjun and I on to the landing.’ ‘Me and Ishta step outside.’ The protracted ending brings with it a positive monsoon of tearful reconciliation, with expression of undying love handed round as if there were no tomorrow. The author has already proved that she can write effectively and well with her previous Asha & the Spirit Bird. But this current story needs much more work at every level.