In Miss Godden's contemporary bougainvillaea-scented India, the British and Indian upper castes dreamily enact their passions. Diplomat Sir Edward Gwithiam lives in raj splendor in his post; he's tagged by his fifteen-year-old daughter Una the ""God Almighty, God damn blasted Director of United Nations Environment Research for Asia."" Una and her sunny twelve-year-old sister Hal (for Halcyon) are tutored by Alix Lamont, a Eurasian, who, it turns out, has little to offer academically. She's Edward's mistress and the girls provide his respectable front. A lonely, frustrated Una--who has pieced together some damning inadequacies in Alix's background and temperament--falls in love with Ravi, a handsome young Indian poet masquerading as second gardener to escape a prison term. Una becomes pregnant and the two young people run away. There's an impending clash of East and West, both in the delicate matter of Una's return and within the girl herself as she attempts to obliterate her English identity behind the docile facade of an Indian bride. Ultimately, she acquires a new respect and understanding of the tension-riddled Alix, now Edward's wife, while he is forced to face the consequences of his own deceptions. Miss Godden's characters, like pond lilies on an elegant surface, suggest deeper currents that are never really touched. Still, this is a pleasurably silky ranee's tale by an accomplished storyteller.