Through a rich mosaic of episodes, shifting intricately back and forth from the 1930s to the present day, the lives of three generations are traced.
Linked by the incessant longing for inner fulfilment, grandmother, mother, son and daughter pursue their selfish quests by very different routes.
Yet each is drawn, either by love or by hate, to the magnetic Leo Kellermann, former Adonis, guru, charlatan/genius and founder of the dubious Academy of Potential Development.
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala was born in Germany of Polish parents and came to England in 1939 at the age of twelve. She graduated from Queen Mary College, London University, and married the Indian architect C.S.H. Jhabvala. They lived in Delhi from 1951 to 1975. Since then they have divided their time between Delhi, New York and London. As well as her numerous novels and short stories, in collaboration with James Ivory and Ismail Merchant Ruth Prawer Jhabvala has written scripts for film and television, including A Room with a View and Howards End, both of which are Academy Award winners. She won the Booker Prize for Heat and Dust in 1975, the Neil Gunn International Fellowship in 1978, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1984 and was made a CBE in the 1998 New Year's Honours List.