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Pipra is not on maps, or even on signposts until you are within six miles of it. It is distinguished from other dusty little roadside towns in India only by its mission hospital with its attendant Christian compound, lb this hospital comes a 'tribal' girl from the hill forests, carrying a sick baby. The baby is cured, her mother is made welcome and seems glad to find shelter among the Christians... so why does she suddenly disappear, leaving the child?
Dr Fry wants to keep the baby, whom he has named Patricia. He is, however, persuaded that it would be better for her if she were taken to the USA where a suitable couple is eager to adopt her; so Tricia grows up, not unhappily but never quite comfortably, as an American. Not until she is nearly twenty does she get the chance to return to Pipra in order to search for her origins.
India is not in the least like her picture of it. In some ways it is much more commonplace (the embarrassing pettiness of life in the compound!); in some ways frightening and shocking; in some ways reassuring (no one could be easier to love and respect than Dr Fry); and in some ways so completely strange that the only possible response to it is to break out of the shell of her old self. Towards this end she is helped by Gautam, a young man as anxious to escape from Pipra as Tricia is to discover it, and by the totally unexpected conclusion of her quest for her mother.
Stephen Alter unfolds this story through subtle shifts of perspective which reveal unsuspected events and hidden meanings, or call up echoes of ancient truths and mysteries. This novel is both more beautiful and more disturbing than its unpretentious front suggests.


Used availability for Stephen Alter's The Godchild

Hardback Editions

April 1987 : UK Hardback

Title: The Godchild
Author(s): Stephen Alter
ISBN: 0-233-97963-8 / 978-0-233-97963-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: HarperCollins Distribution Services
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Paperback Editions

December 1988 : UK Paperback

Title: The Godchild (Arena Books)
Author(s): Stephen Alter
ISBN: 0-09-958130-2 / 978-0-09-958130-7 (UK edition)
Publisher: Arena Arrow
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA