This is a delicate, touching story of an American mission family in India. The chapters, which have served as short stories, consist of a series of experiences and viewpoints -- humorous, zany, pathetic, tragic -- seen mainly through the eyes of 14-year-old Samuel. They explore and successfully convey a sense of the natural loneliness of the human condition. Aaron, 17, the oldest, insists on becoming a ""holy man"", sits for months at the town gates; Barney, 6, who cheats at Monopoly, chats with a friendly Hindu ghost in the Meigudy mission house; Clare discovers her attachment to Meigudy only when the family is forced to leave their mission; Samuel blames himself for Aaron's tragic death, retreats into his own overly-sensitive world; and Mrs. Fisher, when her children have grown and left her, returns to Meigudy as a sort of pilgrimage to her ""house of many rooms"". Imbued with a feeling of urgency, this adroit handling, which is only occasionally undisciplined, is etched along fluid lines.