It is 1938 and the final days of the British Empire. In a bungalow high up in the green hills above the plains of Ceylon, under a vast blue sky, live the Ferguson family: Bella, a precocious eight-year-old; her father Henry – owner of Pitlochry, a tea plantation – and her mother Virginia. The story centres around the Pavilion in the Clouds, set in the idyllic grounds of the plantation, carved out of the wilderness. But all is not as serene as it seems. Bella is suspicious of her governess, Miss White’s intentions. Her suspicion sparks off her mother’s imagination and after an unfortunate series of events, a confrontation is had with Miss White and a gunshot rings off around the hills.
Years later, Bella, now living back in Scotland at university in St Andrews, is faced, once again with her past. Will she at last find out what happened between her Father and Miss White? And will the guilt she has lived with all these years be reconciled by a long over-due apology?
A true classic of the imagination from the pen of Alexander McCall Smith. This is a novel that will transport readers from armchair to Ceylon in just the same ways in which The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency transports them to Botswana – you will feel the heat of the sun, the length of the days, the love of an author for a country. And you will feel the angst of a family far from home and watch as their lives start to unravel.