The India House by William Palmer
The locals call it 'The India House'. But they have little to do with the three women who live there: grandmother, mother and daughter. Upstairs, old Mrs Covington dreams of India and the days of the Raj. Her widowed daughter Evelyn watches obsessively over eighteen-year-old Julia. She has decided that the girl is to be kept in a state of 'innocence'. The tutor, Mr Henry, is allowed to teach only a bizarre mixture of mythology, history, the Romantic Poets, arithmetic, French, and the perils of socialism. His second duty is to fillet the news in the Times each day and report a sanitised version to the family. As little as possible of the modern world must intrude...But it is 1956. India has been lost for a decade; the rest of the Empire is just about holding together. Britain is about to face the great misadventure of Suez. Mrs Covington may try to avoid the modern world, but she cannot prevent the arrival of two men, her son Roland, and her eighteen-year-old grandson, James. The fragile paradise the women have constructed is about to be changed forever. In this blackly comic novel the past is richly evoked, but its message of colonial ambition and disaster and of love and corruption are both moving and timely.