Set among the Indian community of Trinidad, this is the story of 'Baby' Khoja, married off by the matriarch of her well-to-do family to the unpleasant Ram Lutchman, a bus driver. Neither is pleased at the match: 'The girl he was to marry did not inspire him...Her nose was the best part of her...When Ram thought of her, he tried to think only of her nose.' Baby must cope with violence and Ram's mistress, as well as her two unpromising children. But with the assistance of Mr Khoja, the self-important paterfamilias, Ram is levered into a better job and the Lutchmans' life seems to be on the ascendant... For the first half of the novel I wondered where it was going. Told equally from Ram's and Baby's perspectives, it seemed like a slightly shapeless family chronicle, albeit wonderfully written with brilliantly drawn characters from the extended family who feature largely in their lives. But halfway through, events suddenly shift, and I became increasingly immersed, wanting to see how the Lutchmans' lives turn out.
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I like reading Shiva Naipaul's book. This book describes how the Indians lived in 'foreign' countries uprooted by the expansion of the British Empire and to fill the gap which the abolition of the slavery left. This is not a political book but a social book which is well observed and well written.