Set in 1938 India against the backdrop of Mahatma Gandhi s rise to power, Water follows the life of eight year old Chuyia, a child-bride who is abandoned at a widows ashram in Benares after her fifty year old husband dies. There, she is expected to spend the rest of her life in penitence. Unwilling to accept her fate, Chuyia becomes a catalyst for change in the lives of the widows. When her friend, the beautiful widow-prostitute Kalyani, falls in love with Narayan, a young, upper-class Gandhian idealist, the affair boldly defies Hindu tradition and threatens to undermine the delicate balance of power within the ashram. Sidhwa s sensitive storytelling makes this a novel rich with unforgettable characters. Water offers a riveting examination of the lives of widows in colonial India, but ultimately it is a haunting and lyrical story of love, faith and redemption.