There is no better introduction to R.K. Narayan than this remarkable collection of stories celebrating work that spans five decades. Characters include a storyteller whose magical source of tales dries up, a love-stricken husband who is told by astrologers he must sleep with a prostitute to save his dying wife, a pampered child who discovers that his beloved uncle may be an impostor or even a murderer. Standing supreme amid this rich assortment of stories is the title novella. Told by the narrator's grandmother, the tale recounts the adventures of her mother, married at seven and then abandoned, who crosses the subcontinent to extract her husband from the hands of his new wife. Her courage is immense and her will implacable -- but once her mission is completed, her independence vanishes. Gentle irony, wryly drawn characters, and themes at once Indian and universal mark these humane stories, which firmly establish Narayan as one of the world's preeminant storytellers.