A Sin of Colour

Debendranath Roy, in his mid-thirties, last seen entering a punt on the Cherwell, is believed drowned.

Twenty years pass. His father has died, the woman he loved has grown more beautiful, while his English wife has grown reconciled to widowhood. Then Debendranth returns, to explain his actions and ask for help.

The real hero of Sunetra Gupta’s new novel is a house in Calcutta. Called Mandalay by its first British owner, it passes into the hands of the wealthy Roy family, and it is to Mandalay that Indranath Roy in the early thirties brings his clever but childlike young bride Reba. The family’s fortunes fluctuate, independence and partition robs them of some of their wealth, but they remain in the house. It is the next generation and Reba’s sons that eventually abandon it to ruin, making their own fortunes away from Calcutta.

When Debendranath Roy returns to life it is to the gates of Mandalay, he comes expecting to find it as he left it, but instead he finds ghosts of his past.

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