Review

FOUR STEPS FROM PARADISE is a sweeping sage of family and honour, love and duty set in an enchanted garden - and in the cruel world to which its children are exiled.
Krishna Naidu, the youngest son of a proud and powerful family, is eight years old on the day in 1950 when his perfect world first begins to die. With his older sisters Anjali and Kaveri and his brother Jagan, he lives in a huge house on his grandfather's vast estate. Hidden in the heart of Madras, its walls conceal a square mile of gardens and lawns, a village for the servants, a temple, all part of the inheritance promised to the four children. His cousins live there, his aunts and uncles, squabbling amiably under the benevolent rule of his grandfather and grandmother.
Only Krishna's father stands apart from this close-knit world, fatally seduced by his years at Oxford and continually dreaming of the return, with his children, to his beloved England. And Krishna's long dead mother is less than a memory, kept alive for him by only his sisters' loving tales.
The Mss Victoria Green comes into their lives. At first she is just a governess, resisted passionately by Anjali who has no wish to be moulded into the image of an Englishwoman, welcomed shyly by Kaveri who seeks the love she seems to offer. Soon Victoria is their stepmother. And she moves them from their grandfather's crowded, loving home to isolate them in an English style bungalow where new, western ideas displace the children's Indian culture.
But the final betrayal has only begun.
The bittersweet story of the Naidu's family's decline and fall set against a background of the all-encompassing changes that have swept over India in the forty years it spans. Enthralling and enchanting, it is Timer Murari's masterwork.

 

UK- Hodder & Stougton; Germany- Baste Lubbe; India - Penguin.