In a blend of fictional conventions, Lakshmi Raj Sharma's literary masterpiece THE TAILOR'S NEEDLE uses the past to highlight modern India's fragmentation. The intimate portrait of a Brahmin family he offers as well as his depiction of the lasting ideals driving its head towards the freedom struggle during the last years of colonial rule is an elegant, chastening reminder of honourable intentions long forsaken by a corrupt generation of political heirs today. By turns lyrical, mystical, philosophical, hilarious, grotesque and compelling, THE TAILOR'S NEEDLE follows the lives of Cambridge educated Sir Saraswati Chandra Ranbakshi and his three children: the willful, daring Maneka; her docile sister Sita; and the middle sibling, their brother Yogendra. Running through it all, is Sir Saraswati's battle to resolve affection for Britain with his belief in the ideals of the Mahatma. Part comedy of manners, part social commentary, love story, mystic narration and thriller, it is in its scope an Indian The Vicar of Wakefield. As Sir Saraswati's children grow up, he balances the requirements of state maharaja with those of the viceroy. Sita waits patiently for life to be determined by others; Maneka, betrayed by her lover, becomes mistress of the eerie Nadir Palace and falls under suspicion of murder; Yogendra tumbles into love with a lower caste girl. The latter event in particular determines the family's future: Sir Saraswati supports the young couple, seeing their union as a perfect metaphor for a united India. His moral vitality serves as a subliminal lament to India's political class today. In a dignified reproach to those who have failed the country, Sharma's THE TAILOR'S NEEDLE is a final adieu to the great Indian Raj novel - we will not see the like again - as well as an homage to traditions that gave meaning to people's lives.