In the first of a charming series, we meet Jana Bibi, who has inherited her grandfather's house in India. Eschewing the rms of her upper-crust upbringing, she moves with her chatty parrot, Mr. Ganguly, and her loyal housekeeper, Mary, to a town where the local merchants are philosophers, the chief of police is a tyrant, and a bagpipe-playing Gurkha keeps the wild monkeys at bay. Settling in, Jana meets all the colourful local characters who gather at the Why Not? tea shop - her neighbour, Feroze Ali Khan of Royal Tailors, who struggles with his business and family; V.K. Ramachandran, whose Treasure Emporium is bursting at the seams with objects of unkwn provenance; and Rambir, the editor of the local newspaper, who burns the midnight oil at his printing press. When word gets out that Hamara Nagar is in danger of being drowned by a government dam, Jana is enlisted to help put the town on the map. Hoping to attract tourists with promises of good things to come, she stacks her deck of cards, readies her fine feathered assistant, and Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes is born.
Betsy Woodman spent ten childhood years in India; studied in France, Zambia, and the United States; and now lives in her native New Hampshire. She has contributed nonfiction pieces and several hundred book reviews to various publications, and was a writer and editor for the award-winning documentary series Experiencing War, produced for the Library of Congress and aired on Public Radio International.