Those Women of the Coromandel brings to life the eclectic, intertwined lives of three women living in Coromandel in nineteenth-century India. We meet Miss Beston who is known as the Boat Woman, a Briton who has gone native. Living in her boat (that grows into a chain of houseboats, each housing a different area of her living and working quarters) she is an entrepreneur, hunter, and host and guide to every British official who passes through the Coromandel. Deeply interested in local culture, she befriends people around her, both Indian and British. Appachchi, known as Granny, is a lover of nature, mangoes, and the monsoon. An early encounter with a spiritual man, the Guru of the Stream, guides her to a divine understanding that underpins her life. Worker Aunt, Appachchi’s sister-in-law, who endures successive personal tragedies with the utmost dignity, is her close confidante and lifelong buttress. Also deeply influenced by the teachings of the Guru of the Stream, she undertakes a trip to Kasi later in life that establishes her as a spiritual fulcrum for the villagers.
Peopled with characters who are eccentric, interesting, and pragmatic, such as the scholarly BA Garu, Appachchi’s husband and Worker Aunt’s brother; Mr Blotton, the Brahma of the Godavari anicut; Nephew, the first to welcome the Guru of the Stream, and others, Those Women of the Coromandel is a story of people trying to find their place in the world as it turns and changes around them.