Patna Hall, an old fashioned but rather lovely hotel on the Coramandel coast of India, is owned and run by Sanita (Auntie Sanni) and Colonel McIndoe. The Colonel remains in the background, but Auntie Sanni has her hands on every string needed to run the hotel well. She has regularly returning guests and those who arrive for the first time. There is a party of Americans who are on an archeological trip, some of whom are not happy about foreign food and bathrooms, and some who love the whole thing. There is a mysterious single woman, deeply unhappy and unable to pay her bill - why is she there? There are others, too - a pair of political animals, staying because of the forthcoming election in the area, and a pair of young honeymooners. It is they who will prove the catalyst for an eventful week. The staff at the hotel are well described, particularly Kuku, who has been taken on by Auntie Sanni to be trained as a hotel manager, but it seems, however good-natured Sannie always is in the control of her staff, that this one is not happy, in life or in her job. The honeymooners are not happy either. A pair of youngsters who perfectly fit the description "marry in haste repent at leisure". He is a bully, she does not want to be bullied, and when she comes across the path of a would-be politican everything changes. No year given, but set in the late 20th century, this is a mixture of intrigue, sex, politics, death and misunderstandings. I'd forgotten what a lovely, readable writing style Rumer Godden had, so if you find and like this one, she wrote loads of others!!
Intrigued by the title? You can find out about the Coramandel coastline in India here.