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FICTION

COROMANDEL SEA CHANGE by Rumer Godden (William Morrow and Company: $18; cloth; 224 pp.). Patna Hall, on the Coromandel coast of India, has been owned and operated for years by “Antie Sanni,” so dubbed by her devoted guests. The hotel’s relaxing ways and idyllic setting make it a treasured spot for a mix of repeat visitors, aristocracy, cultural tourists and diplomats. Included in this week’s assortment are newlywed Blaise and Mary Browne, he a stuffy sort from a good British family and she a young girl aglow with India. The setting works its magic on Mary as she grows disenchanted with a husband she barely knows and becomes friendly with a charismatic local politician. Through him, Mary is lead towards self-awakening, but not without tragic consequences. This is Godden’s first novel in several years, and while its conclusions may be rather lightweight, she so lyrically captures her locale that one fully understands and shares the power of the spell it has on Mary.


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