Modern Delhi is the background for a story of two prominent Indian families and the Englishman who acts as a catalyst in their lives. For it is Guba, beautiful, indolent, profoundly eastern, whom Esmond, a young colonial type marries-Guba who five years ago captured his academic imagination and fed his fantasy of Hindu exoticism but whom he now loathes. Guba endures Esmond's contempt as it is prescribed by her heritage, while Esmond finds relief with Betty, a shallow compatriot. At a party given by Betty, Shakuntala-an educated young Indian of the wealthy Dayal family, meets Esmond and falls madly in love with him. Hers is a curious blend of emotion; western in its free unconventionality, Indian in its slavish devotion. Esmond takes the girl for a night. Subsequently Guba is approached by a servant, and Guba agrees to leave Esmond-- he has failed as her husband and allowed her to be defiled. And so, filled with the exhilaration of liberty, he goes with Shakuntala for one more afternoon... Mrs. Jhabvala's third and most penetrating novel will be compared with Forster's Passage to India as it portrays with full understanding the total separation of these two worlds, and it is rich in atmosphere and compassion.