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Janette Turner Hospital.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1982.
252pp, cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 0-77104220-5.

Reviewed by Joan McGrath.

Volume 11 Number 1.
1983 January.

The hot-house South Indian setting of a sabbatical year acts as a catalyst upon the shaky marriage of Juliet and David, Canadians sojourning in India as an escape from the stuffy pall of life in a poky university town in Ontario. They have crossed the world in search of a haven of restful glamour, in which to renew and strengthen their overtaxed love; instead, they find themselves helpless witnesses to the unfolding tragedy of their neighbour Yashoda, a beautiful young widow struggling against the confines of tradition and family law. Their willingness to befriend her and their goodwill, serve only to worsen her situation, and at last to precipitate a dreadful act of savagery.

The author describes with sure understanding the bewildered westerners unable to come to terms with the ways of the East. Two little figurines on an ivory swing, images of the god Krishna and his beloved Radha, seem to Juliet to typify the tensions of a life caught between the old and the new, at home in neither. No equilibrium the frail figures may achieve can be depended upon to endure. This tale of the inexorable workings of a fate too lightly and too easily invoked was the winner of the $50,000 Seal First Novel Award for 1982.

Joan McGrath, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, ON.
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