The friendship between Renuka, a Bengali poet, and Rachel, an American missionary, lies at the heart of this novel. Two women from entirely different backgrounds, they share a bond that overcomes the barriers of nationality, race and religion. Both are exiled to a hill station, which is populated with provincial and prudish memsahibs, who adjust their recipes to compensate for the altitude and substitute ingredients from home. While Rachel's husband works at a psychiatric hospital in the plains, in Ranchi, she looks after their sons who attend a mission school in the hills. While editing a cookbook, Rachel begins to realize the contradictions within her community. She also discovers the seductive voice of Renuka's poetry ... Renuka, Stephen Alter's fourth novel, builds to a startling climax, while uncovering hidden truths about love, sexuality and passion.