Fiction Books:

The Companion

A Tale of 1857


Paperback / softback

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The Companion by Parveen Chhibber
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Eking out a living painting the portraits of idle English colonists in pre-mutiny India, Monsieur Perin is summoned, not for the first time, to the home of Magistrate Jackson to render the likeness of the latter's cherubic grandsons. Upon his arrival, however, Perin finds the family mad with grief - his subjects having fallen prey to a cobra whilst playing in the yellowed and stagnant tall grasses. The Jackson family - sadistic, imperious and filled with the blinkered self-importance of their assumed positions in a foreign country - claim that the servant girl and 'ladies' companion', Zeli, was responsible for the tragedy, and that the serpent's proximity to the unfortunate twins was no accident. Having met Zeli on his previous visit and been haunted by her memory ever since, Perin discovers, piece by piece, how she came to the Jackson family in the first place, and finds the fanned and deceptively rarefied air of their home to be tinged with poison and deceit, not to mention ruinous secrets. Zeli's story unfolds against a backdrop of the rape of a country and its people - a shameful period of history once justified under the banner of 'civilising'. Zeli's revenge for what was visited upon her family and, by extension, herself, is a calculated and bloody one; as a child of colonial rule, this is the only language she understands.
Release date Australia
July 11th, 2007
New Generation Publishing
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