Blaise and Mary spend their honeymoon at Patna Hall, an Indian hotel on the Coromandel coast. Mary is entranced by the blue morning glory, the green parakeets and mynah birds and giant waves of the sea. She becomes very close to the hotel staff and guests and its owner, Auntie Sanni. She also becomes friends with Krishnan Bhanj who is running for election as the candidate for the Root and Flower Party.
Social climber Blaise is jealous of Mary's affinity with India and suspicious of her innocent friendship with Krishan Bhanj while Mary becomes increasingly disillusioned with her selfish husband and wonders if, at eighteen, she has married too young.
There are vivid scenes of Mary chrystallising cherries and making Mrs Beeton's Pretty Orange Pudding in the hotel's confectionery pantry with Auntie Sanni, helping to wash a decorated elephant on the beach and dressing as the goddess Radha on one of the election floats to help Krishnan with his campaign.
I liked Raffaella Barker's introduction to this book. She recalls reading The Greengage Summer at twelve and makes the interesting point that Rumer Godden is such a gifted writer that the books you love as a teenager are also satisfying on a different level when re-read as an adult.
I've ordered Black Narcissus and Kingfishers Catch Fire. Think I'll have a little staycation and read them in the garden in the summer sunshine.