They don't tend to write like this anymore, perhaps with good reason, but nonetheless the latest from Godden, unabashedly sentimental, is an entertaining if nostalgic read. Patna Hall, a popular hotel on the Coromandel coast of southern India, is owned and run by Auntie Sanni, an Anglo-Indian whose family has been there for generations. Auntie Sanni, a stereotype like all the characters here, is a wise and wonderful old woman who knows exactly what to do with misbehaving guests and servants. In the week the novel covers, a party of scholarly American women, a British honeymoon couple, a British diplomat and his wife, a journalist, a mysterious unattached woman, and the managers of a local political campaign are all guests. The hotel, right on the beach, where the waves are strong and the sea shark- infested, becomes the stage for the unfolding drama with parts for everyone, including the servants, a donkey, and an elephant. It is soon apparent to all--but especially to Auntie Sanni and Sir John and Lady Fisher, the diplomats--that the young leads, honeymooners Mary and Blaise, are having problems. Mary, entranced with the hotel and all things Indian, gets involved in the political campaign and is especially drawn to the candidate, handsome English-educated Krishnan, who is everything that snobby and insensitive husband Blaise is not. The campaign has its ups and downs as Mary gets closer to Krishnan--which is terrific because they are meant for each other--and as poor Blaise, obviously doomed, conveniently exits in a nasty accident just in time for Auntie Sanni to get the hotel ready for the next week's guests. Godden's lively narrative and her vivid descriptions of the people, places, and customs of a country she loves are more than fair compensation for dated style and stock characters.