This is a novel about three women living in different times and places, whose lives unexpectedly intersect. Sophie, a contemporary English woman, is invited by a historian to visit Malabar. Centuries before her, Inês, born to an unknown mother in sixteenth-century Portugal, yearns to know her origins, which she finally discovers in Malabar. Before her, “a long time ago,” a Namboodiri Brahmin girl lives an enclosed life, also in Malabar. Unsettled by her intelligence, her guru schemes to destroy her, and her story goes on to affect both Sophie and Inês.