I think the publisher should go back to the original listing of this as Non-fiction -- for certainty it stems directly from the author's own personal experiences and its unique flavor lies in the authoritative reflection of life in an Indian village -- inside looking in. An Austrian, she accompanied her daughter to India, where Mary Ann was married to an Indian scientist, and the three of them returned to his home in Akbarabad. There the two woman made a place for themselves in the community, with friendships formed with Muslims and Hindus, with high and fow, with women in purdah and with those who were taking the first faltering steps towards independence. Together they learned when to conform to Rashid's ways, when to accept his mores, when to help those (desi towards improving social and educational conditions. Then Mary Ann dies, and Ruskid persuades mother-in-law to stay on. Her role is a new one -- as his hostess, his companies -- and finally as his ""family"" acting even as a virtual marriage broker, and eventually bringing about his marriage to an Indian girl, with modern views, and a deep devotion to her older friend. Colorful -- anecdotal -- human, this gives the flavor of modern India, but the evasion of political facets makes one feel a serious lack in the whole as a rounded picture. Good reading, but not another Anna.