The Folded Earth
by Anuradha Roy
It is a great many years since I was so carried away on the pages of a book. This novel takes the reader to the foothills of the Himalaya, to a village called Rhamaket, and spins a wonderful story about the people who live there. In fact, THE FOLDED EARTH resembles a cobweb sparkling in the hedgerow at sun-up: it is spun as if overnight and with apparent ease, but in fact it is created with exquisite skill. Anurhada Roy is a formidable novelist: reading her elegiac but comic narrative lifts the spirit and brightens the day.
The story is poignant and sympathetic. It is about love and loss and powerful revenge. A young woman is tragically widowed when her husband, an experienced mountaineer, is lost while climbing in the Himalaya. Devastated by his death, she tries to find out what happened to him without success and, in desperation, goes to live as near as she can to where he was last seen alive. She takes a job teaching in the village school and rents a primitive cottage. She is alone in the world, without family, an unenviable position in that part of the world. So beautiful is the landscape that some very sophisticated people are drawn to it, usually as tourists in the summer months, but sometimes to visit an eminent resident who has retired to the area. She becomes friendly with him, and she grows to love her neighbours, who are poor and illiterate, and sometimes eccentric.
Her characters are vividly drawn with her featherlight touch, and her humour will surely bring a smile to the most leathery old face. I shall always treasure this book and I shall buy copies as gifts for my very best beloveds.
Published by MacLehose, 272pp.