Synopses & Reviews
This is the remarkable story of Hannah Easton, a unique woman born in the American colonies in 1670, "a person undreamed of in Puritan society." Inquisitive, vital and awake to her own possibilities, Hannah travels to Mughal, India, with her husband, and English trader. There, she sets her own course, "translating" herself into the Salem Bibi, the white lover of a Hindu raja.
It is also the story of Beigh Masters, born in New England in the mid-twentieth century, an "asset hunter" who stumbles on the scattered record of her distant relative's life while tracking a legendary diamond. As Beigh pieces together details of Hannah's journeys, she finds herself drawn into the most intimate and spellbinding fabric of that remote life, confirming her belief that with "sufficient passion and intelligence, we can decontrsuct the barriers of time and geography...."
"A native of Calcutta, a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, and an American citizen since 1988, author of four previous novels and an award-winning collection of short stories, Ms. Mukherjee adds to her familiar subject of culture clash and shock, the element of clashing time. Beigh Masters, narrator of the novel, is an American woman with deep New England roots. Her obsession is the life and mystery of Hannah Easton, a Puritan New Englander born in 1670, who in her own time became Salem Bibi, the 'Precious-as-Pearl' of an 18th century Indian Mogul. Putting together the life of Hannah from shards, in bits and pieces, Beigh has a life of her own with an Indian-born, MIT computer scientist, Venn lyer, whose obession is the future already previewed by his marvelous machines and programs, his serious adventures with virtual reality. And ultimately the two obsessions join together as one quest. It sounds complicated, but is not, being smoothly, swiftly conveyed and accessible in Mukherjee's clear and elegant style." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
"An amazing literary feat and a masterpiece of storytelling. Once again, Bharati Mukherjee prove she is one of our foremost writers, with the literary muscles to weave both the future and the past into a tale that is singularly intelligent and provocative." Amy Tan