After a lifetime in India, Philip returns to Australia in 2001, seeking to re-establish links with his estranged wife Jenny, whom he had married in India fifty years earlier. Displaced and disappointed in his hopes of resuming a career in his own country, Philip is visited by a ghost: Ragini, the young revolutionary he fell in love with in 1948. And difficult memories are revived.
In 1948 India has achieved its independence, but the princely state of Hyderabad— the Nizam’s Dominions—with its feudal splendours and deep pockets of rural poverty and injustice, totters alone, unwilling to accede to India, and fighting Communist insurrection within. Philip, ‘the world’s youngest headmaster’, has been appointed from Australia to a one-teacher school in the distant town of Warangal, a post no Hindu will take. There, he meets Anand, a Congress Party member working to bring Hyderabad into the Indian Union, and Ragini, a landlord’s daughter and a Communist, who has given away the family lands. A love triangle develops as events sweep them up—events that will return to life and take their toll half a century later.
The Last Candles of the Night is a lyrical and moving tale of the unpredictable progress of love, the pitfalls of memory, and the costs of deep allegiance.