A long, breezy soap opera about modern India that includes political conflict, religious mysticism, scads of sex--and a...

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THEN SPOKE THE THUNDER

A long, breezy soap opera about modern India that includes political conflict, religious mysticism, scads of sex--and a bang-up climax that kills off most of its protagonists. David Bruce, accompanied by his younger wife Philippa, returns to India for a reunion with his old friend Madho Der Singh. The Bruces have an open marriage, and Philippa is an instant aphrodisiac. Almost as soon as they touch ground, Dev's son Arjun loves her madly. David, meanwhile, becomes obsessed with Durga Baba, a guru mystic, and with reveries concerning Kamala, his long-ago love. As love affairs develop, we hear lots of longwinded political rumors (for the Sikhs have occupied the Golden Temple), get lots of local color (Sikhs, killed by bear cubs; the Ritz--near the Himalayas, of course; the monsoon; a bit of clairvoyance: a pilgrim trail), and meet a host of characters (the quaint Dr. Kapoor; Indira Gandhi; American missionaries; a taxi-driver/tour-guide with a Ph.D., etc.). Almost all wear their libidos on their sleeves--except for poor David, who wonders why he could ""never seize the moment."" David does find lost-love Kamala, however, and eventually discovers that Arjun's wife is their daughter. In the meantime, taken with his guru and his new family, David doesn't care that Philippa has fallen in love irrevocably with Arjun. In fact, he encourages Arjun to return with them to the West. Before that can happen, though, Indira Gandhi is murdered, and the ensuing riots turn brutal: a stone hits Kamala in the forehead and kills her; then both Arjun and David get wounded and die hand in hand, Arjun concluding that ""Love is God."" This kind of thin schlock can be patronizing towards India, but Chamberlain (Gates of Fire; 1978; Hound Dog, 1984) nevertheless manages to give us a page-turning glimpse into a troubled subcontinent, with exotic locales and a good deal of intrigue.

Pub Date: March 1, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988