GOING HOME by Freny Olbrich


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A Novel of India"" is the subtitle of Scottish-based Olbrich's first US publication (four novels in the UK), the focus here being on two Bombay families linked by marriage. The Indian talent for families--quarreling, passionate, complicated by eccentric relatives who come and go in waves--hasn't skipped either the wealthy Marzabans or the Snopesian Sethnas. A brother and sister, Rusi and Thrity Marzaban, provide the thread of a story that covers the era of Gandhi, Nehru, WW II and the violence of Partition. Thwarted in a forbidden love affair with a Hindi girl, Rusi becomes a Gandhi disciple, a family outcast, a prisoner tortured by his British jailers, and finally a bureaucrat--his conscience still uneasy--in the new India. Parallel to his story of political strife, Thrity marries the up-and-coming medical student Ratan Sethna, suffering decades with his family, who are distinguished by their bad manners, terrible taste, occult dabbling, and envy and outright hatred of Thrity. If in outline this plot seems promising for those familiar with the works of Salman Rushdie, Ved Medta, and the brothers Naipaul, be forewarned that the book unfortunately stays an outline. Its style is at very best leisurely, and the author's range of verbal insights limited (a revelation is ""like Pandora's box""; a deception ""wins the Oscar""). Strictly for addicts of the Raj.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's