The British couple have "stayed on" for 25 years after India's independence and have become the last of their colonial kind, awash in a world that has changed around them while they themselves have hardly changed at all, except to grow older. Colonel "Tusker" Smalley is cranky and ridiculous, his wife Lucy is alternately pitiful and insightful, the native staff is tolerant and knowing, and the native husband-and-wife landlords provide broadly drawn comic relief.
Although this sounds like quite the set-up, the novel itself is curiously bland. The writing is adequate, some of the characters are quite well-drawn, there is plenty of humor, and the story takes a surprisingly moving turn at the end. All told, however, this is not one of the more memorable winners. I suppose every prize is bound to have a slow year now and again.
For more on this novel, check out my other review at Hotchpot Cafe.