Prem is a recently married teacher who is neither very good at teaching nor at being married. He is promised an ally against his wife Indu, whom he regards with varying degrees of irritation, when his mother comes to visit. He soon finds, though, that maternal interference is far from helpful, and he receives comfort from an entirely unexpected quarter - his wife - as he discovers through her the joys of being a 'settled husband and householder'. From every page rise the heat, the smells, the flashing iridescent colours and the ceaseless rhythms of Indian life. And such is the strength of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's humorous and perceptive pen that this appealing tale of a young man trying to come to terms with marriage and maturity becomes more than a highly comic vignette of a particular society - it is also a reflection of a universal experience.