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Heat and Dust Paperback
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Edition Date:: 09/15/1987
Set in India, HEAT AND DUST is the story of Olivia, a beautiful, spoiled, bored English colonial wife in the 1920s who is drawn inexorably into the spell of the Nawab, a minor Indian prince deeply involved in plots and intrigues. Olivia outrages the tiny, suffocating town where her husband is a civil servant by eloping with the captivating Nawab. It is also the story of Olivia's step-granddaughter who, fifty years later, is drawn to India by her fascination with the letters left behind by the now dead older woman, and by her obsession with solving the enigma of Olivia's scandal. A penetrating and compassionate love story, this brilliant novel immerses the reader in the heat, dust, and squalor of India, while providing a compelling mixture of the spiritual and the sensual.
About the Author

Heat and Dust views India through the lives of two English women living fifty years apart. Olivia is the first wife of an English government official assigned to India in the 1920s. The unnamed narrator the story is the young granddaughter of the same official by a later wife who, intrigued by family rumors about Olivia, travels to India seeking answers to Olivia's mysterious existence. How, in a segregated society, did Olivia meet an Indian prince of questionable character, and why did she leave her husband for him? What happened to her afterwards? As the narrator stays in the town where Olivia lived and visits places that influenced Olivia's life, we witness India's past through Olivia's letters and journals and the narrator's imagination. For Olivia, removed from the day-to-day existence of the Indian people, India "was like being not in a different part of this world but in another world altogether, in another reality." In contrast, the narrator sublets a room that shares a courtyard with an Indian family and learns much about their life. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala shows us both pre- and post-independent India, exposing the similarities and differences of India's impact on each of these women. 
 

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