A delicate, almost effervescent beauty permeates the novel and the depiction of the Himalayan foothills where the novel is set; a place of lilac sunsets and translucent peaks, of a sense of listlessness which frequently disguises the danger which lurks beneath, from the leopards which stalk the forests surrounding the town where the story takes place to the mysterious nature of the death of Maya’s husband. The sense of sleepiness is also punctuated by the political intrigue involving the secret letters between Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten which are held by the outwardly conceited historian Diwan Sahib.
‘The Folded Earth’ is as much an evocation of the forests and mountains surrounding Ranikhet-indeed the backdrop of the story is as central a character as any of the human characters who appear in the novel. Ranikhet acts a refuge for Maya following the untimely death of her husband Michael, a salve to the pain which is seared into her soul following his passing, yet these wounds are reopened by her encounter with Diwan Sahib’s nephew Veer. Not only does her passion with Veer jolt her into life, it forces her to confront her past history with Michael. Roy’s straightforward and simple narrative style allows for the characters who surround Maya, from the servant girl Charu, to the supercilious and eccentric but essentially good Diwan Sahib, to slowly grow on the reader, as the slow rhythm of their lives gradually becomes more and more important as the novel develops.
‘The Folded Earth’ is a skilfully woven story which slowly grows on the reader, who is slowly lulled into the lives of the characters who populate the story.