03 December, 2020

Tale Of An Agnes Aunt

An adolescent girl's coming of age with a stunning mastery over the plot as well as haunting use of language and image. This is an author who needs showcasing.

Tale Of An Agnes Aunt
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Its title gives away nothing of this book’s content. The deliberately puzzling title has a rather pretentious resonance echoed by the dark green, almost slimy, cover picture: a hazy outline of a house hidden by a dark tree, the light glinting dimly through the thick foliage.

The story is set in St Agnes, a girls’ school in Mumbai. A convent, it’s staffed, as so many once were, by ghostly nuns and teachers whose lives are the subject of fantastic tales spun by their students. The protagonist is 15-year-old Tenral, a brilliant if precocious student in the final year of school. Blessed with an unusually musical ear, she is strongly attracted to, though initially repelled by, her English language teacher, Mrs D’Cruz, nicknamed Alfie. Convinced Mrs D’Cruz once had a torrid romance with a man of this name, quoted by her as the world’s greatest authority on poetry, Tenral sneaks to Rose Cottage, where the teacher lives and secretly listens to her read poetry aloud on Sundays. Tenral’s interest in the teacher’s private life is an obsession the author weaves in...

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