When Anna, a nonprofit grant writer, decides to travel to India in the wake of her father's death and the collapse of her marriage, she does so almost perversely. Her mother Rose was born in Calcutta and lived there with her father until she was 17, but she never discussed this part of her life with Anna or her brother--to them it was "an entire childhood cordoned off like a diseased town." On the eve of her departure, Rose sends Anna a handwritten journal that she wrote after her marriage and move to Boston. As Anna travels around India, experiencing for the first time both its beauty and the horror of its poverty, she reads her mother's "single-spaced account of a rather terrifying childhood in a dying colony." Anna begins to discern the long-obscured reasons behind her mother's nearly loveless interaction with her children and to regret her own childless state. Bacon has woven an insightful mother-daughter saga into her depiction of the complexity that is India, creating a satisfying amalgam of past and present.