Leela - alluring, taciturn, haunted - is moving back to Delhi from New York. She knows her return will unsettle precariously balanced lives. Twenty-two years ago her sister was seduced by Vyasa, a young university lecturer. Now an eminent Sanskrit scholar, Vyasa is preparing for the unlikely marriage of his son, Ash, to the child of a Hindu nationalist. Compounding Leela's disruptive presence, Ash's hedonistic twin sister Bharati arrives from London, reluctantly leaving her cosmopolitan university life to see Ash married. Ash, meanwhile, has fallen in love with his brother-in-law to be.
Gleefully presiding over the drama is Ganesh - divine, elephant-headed scribe of India's great epic, the Mahabharata. The family patriarchs may think they have arranged the wedding for their own selfish ends, but according to Ganesh it is he who is directing events - in a bid to save Leela, his beloved heroine, from his devious enemy Vyasa.
Turning to fiction after an award-winning travel book, Alice Albinia has written a brilliantly playful and genre-defying first novel. Ambitious and entertaining, Leela's Book weaves a tale of contemporary Delhi that crosses religious and social boundaries, reaching back into the origins of the Mahabharata itself.
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