To live in India you must have an enormous heart. Or no heart at all. That is the best answer of course if you want to survive. It is the in-betweens that have the tough time."" Pamela, wife of Richard, an Aussie on a UNESCO mission, identified herself early on as an in-between: she treated the thirty-eight cats she had handfed in Benares, a city where human beings starve, to a harrowing mercy-killing, and Richard packed her off to England. But to Richard, India was ""this most difficult and lovable country,"" where he made friends with the talented Shankar, who had given up his ambition for his dependents, where he met Helen Siegel, with her long legs and ""high noon happiness."" In the end, the collision between East and West is complete, catastrophic: Pamela is dead, Helen crippled, Richard must leave India without that ""finest and most common gift of life,"" a lover, a job... A first novel of promising sensibility, astute, swift, sure until it leaves the reader, like the hero, somewhat at loose ends. It has an echo.