I was fortunate to get this collection through an advanced reader program, and I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to review it. This set of novellas focuses on three individuals, each struggling with important choices that will impact their own fate. The first is a civil servant who is just beginning his career and questioning his ability to make a difference. He is given the opportunity to help an elderly servant and curator save a family created museum. His instincts tell him that this could be important, and he is faced with the choice of whether or not to try. The second is an English teacher who reunites with an unexpected person from her past. She is given the chance to translate the work of an author she has always admired and help her become known. This dream come true is threatened as she becomes carried away with the power of her position. The third character is a hermit who creates an artistic garden for his own solitude. When others discover its beauty, he has to find a way to disappear again.
I tend to read anything about the history and culture of India that I can find, and this book stands out to me as something unique. I loved the way that Anita Desai developed her characters. In the second story I felt especially touched by Prema's struggle. I could feel her excitement as she began to feel empowered for the first time in her life, and I could feel her panic as she began to lose control. The third story which focused on Ravi was simply beautiful. The author creates effective pictures of India from the stunning to the grim. I haven't read her before, but I am looking forward to finding more of her books.