THE FAR-OFF HILLS by Rita Anton

THE FAR-OFF HILLS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The garrulous journal of a tourist-pilgrim in India. Anton is an archetypal Middle-American: a square, sensible, good-humored person in her late fifties from Oak Park, Illinois; housewife, mother of five, knowledgeable real-estate agent, and busy Catholic laywoman. Recently widowed, she decided to fill part of the void in her life by spending some time in the Western Ghats (the ""far-off hills"") of southern India, in a town named Kodaikanal--where she had been before in the course of promoting a charitable fund for educating outcaste Indian children. So off she goes, bursting with energy and good-will--to do what? After following the plucky lady on the long and sometimes moving journey from her husband's grave to the hills of Kodaikanal, and going through her interminable account of settling down there, the reader keeps wondering: when does she get down to business? Unfortunately, the only ""business"" she has is bustling around, chatting with all her priest and nun friends, dispensing donations, lapping up local color, and reeling from the shocks that dirty, disorganized India inflicts on her bourgeois sensibilities. Anton can be maddeningly narrow (she devotes four pages to an inventory of the furnishings of the house she stayed in--and not a line to the social problems of India as a whole), but she has her virtues. She has a sharp eye for color and human interest, and a naturally fluent prose style. Anton intends to return to India: perhaps further exposure to the wisdom (and agony) of the subcontinent will strip away the fluff and firm up the substance of a thus-far wasted talent.

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday