Young, playful and mischievous Mohini dreams of a husband but her education and upbringing and the ideas of liberal professor father are unacceptable to her Brahmin traditioned grandmother. Marriage for love is discarded, matrimonial advertisements in the newspapers bring only embarrassment, and it is through a fortune teller that a match is made.
Finally charming Mohini is wed and brought to grip with a different reality, a responsibility and a way of life to which she would gladly succumb if only her husband was closer.
The unusual cast of characters include a passionate and romantic snake charmer, and a matriarch whose worship of tradition leads her to amorality.
‘Here is a quiet, unassuming novel that has moments of true lyric charm and infections humour. The writer has such a real feeling for people that his characters transcend national barriers and a western reader soon feels comfortable with the unusual cart — including the passionate and romantic snake charmer, the lovely girl whom none will marry because her horoscope is accursed, and the matriarch whose worship of tradition leads her to a amorality. We see the best of India – the best of any civilisation for that matter – in Mohini.' — The New York Times
'The customs of old and the ideas of a modern age clash in this fictional account of the marriage of a young girl and a country scholar.' —Saturday Review, New York
'A splendid novel that may take rank with Pearl Buck's The Good Earth.' — Chicago Tribune
'The story of evolution of seventeen year old, day dreaming girl filled with romantic notions into an emotionally and intellectually mature woman. Bhabani Bhattacharya, as ever, gives a perfectly round female character and paints Mohini’s every emotion with ease and dexterity of the seasoned artiste.' — Nagpur Times
The characters are introduced one by one in a leisurely manner, and we meet among them a pretty girl, a wandering minstrel and a luxuriously mustachioed seth. Skilfully blending fable and reality it delves deep into the human mind.
The plot centres around a touchstone given to Meera by her sagacious grandfather. It is believed that the amulet would enable Meera to turn copper into gold, provided she acts kindly as a natural and spontaneous expression of herself.
‘Wearing it on your person, if you do an act of kindness, real kindness, then all copper on your body will turn to gold... parted from your arm, the touchstone will be dead, a worthless pebble.’
It is hugely entertaining tale, yet it disturbs. It disturbs as a warning and as a prophecy.