The Lady on a Horse and Other Secrets


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Spanning over a century, The Lady on the Horse tells the story of five generations of a family in Calcutta. Starting life as a khansama in an Englishman’s house in 1900, Dipendra Nath Lahiri dreams of acquiring the wealth and status of a zamindar. His wife Pritilata’s skills as a seamstress—much sought after by the memsahibs— become the means, and by 1919, their tailoring business, Lahiri & Sons, has made them fabulously rich and they’ve bought a grand mansion, Lahiri Bari. Their progeny can live a life of leisure, at par with the white sahibs Dipendra Nath and Pritilata had once served.

But with time, Lahiri Bari also becomes the house of many secrets and contested legacies: of injustice, betrayal, love and pain. What was the unmentionable ‘thing’ that happened between Neelratan Lahiri’s wife Ishwari and the black-as-a-crow Kanailal—the revolutionary who wanted to burn down the Raj? Two generations later, what is the mysterious connection between Pixie and the maid’s daughter, Ayesha, who grow up like sisters? And what was the oldest secret of them all— what turned the demure Pritilata into a rebel who rode out of her mansion on a magnificent horse one day—never to return.

Set against the backdrop of the freedom struggle, the Bengal Famine and Partition, this sprawling family saga explores the insidious implications of class and caste through the lives of people thrown together by blood ties and fate lines. At the heart of the story is the idea that everything which happens in the present has its roots in the past—every generation will be shaped by the legacy it has been bequeathed.

With a rich cast of characters and lyrical prose, Ramona Sen takes us on an exhilarating roller-coaster ride through the trials and tribulations of one family— and the passionate loves and bitter enmities that shaped their fortunes.

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