Vasudha Dalmia offers a panoramic view of the intellectual and cultural life of North India over a century, from the aftermath of the 1857 uprising to the end of the Nehruvian era. The North’s historical cities, rooted in an Indo-Persianate culture, began changing more slowly than the Presidency towns founded by the British. Dalmia takes up eight canonical Hindi novels set in six of these cities—Agra, Allahabad, Banaras, Delhi, Lahore, and Lucknow—to trace a literary history of domestic and political cataclysms. Her exploration of the emerging Hindu middle classes, changing personal and professional ambitions, and new notions of married life provides a vivid sense of urban modernity. She argues that the radical social transformations associated with post-1857 urban restructuring, and the political flux resulting from social reform, Gandhian nationalism, communalism, Partition, and the Cold War shaped the realm of the intimate as much as the public sphere. Love and friendship, notions of privacy, attitudes to women’s work, and relationships within households are among the book’s major themes.