An affecting chronicle of life in a South Indian village is told with simplicity and compelling wisdom. Rukmani, daughter of a village headman, came to tenant farmer Nathan with a plain face and tender heart, and after the devoted white doctor Kenny, who uneasily inhabited two worlds, had seen to her health, their marriage was blessed with tenderness, a daughter, and sons. The coming of the tannery changes the life of the villagers and despite increased work complicated the struggle against starvation. It brings the death of a son and departure of other sons and even the loss of land as the factory engulfs it. Nathan and Rukmani journey to the city to live with a son they do not find; and they join quarry diggers to earn the rupees for their homeward trip. Only Ruckmant lives to return to the remainder of her family, for she leaves Nathan in a gentle death far from his beloved land. With her she brings the diseased and wily street boy she accepts as her son. There is an epic quality in this short book that emanates from the character of Rukmani and Nathan; from their patience and their acceptance of a fierce fate so far from Western conception (Kenny upbraids them for it), in the story of personal lives told with insight and compassion and humor, in the transcendence of the spirit over the terrible world of man and nature's making.