Night in Bombay Excites the Senses

In Night in Bombay, novelist Louis Bromfield plunges readers into 1930’s India, submerges them in its sounds and smells, and holds them until the subcontinent beats in their pulses.

Bill Wainwright is in Bombay on business when he runs into his ex-wife, Carol, a gorgeous blonde living off a string of suitors. She mentions meeting a missionary on the train. From her description, Bill knows it’s his former Cornell roommate, Buck Merrill.

Tropical diseases, hard work, and his frigid late wife have debilitated Buck. Influential Indians want him well enough to continue his work helping rural Indians become self-sufficient. Bill suggests Buck enjoy a vacation at the Taj Mahal Hotel where he and Carol are staying.

Buck and Carol fall for each other, and Bill realizes that he loved Carol all along.

If this novel has a fault, it’s that the exotic locale and seemingly stereotypical characters mislead readers into expecting fluff. Bromfield doesn’t do fluff. In Night in Bombay, he takes the “beauty is only skin deep” cliché and twists it into more variations than a Rubic’s cube.

Take time to savor the sensual richness and complex characters of this cinemagraphic novel. It’s as exotic as a vacation to the Far East.

Night in Bombay
By Louis Bromfield
Grosset & Dunlap, 1940
351 pages
1940 Bestseller # 9

© 2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni