Tanjore, 1765. Young Maya plays among the towering granite temples of this ancient city in the heart of southern India. Like her mother before her, she is destined to become a devadasi, a dancer for the temple. She is instructed in dance, the mystical arts and lovemaking. It is expected she will be chosen as a courtesan for the prince himself.
But as Maya comes of age, India is on the cusp of change and British dominance has risen to new heights. Far from home, the East India Company is acting like a country in its own right and the British troops are more of a rabble than the King’s army. The prince is losing his power and the city is sliding into war. Maya is forced to flee her ancestral home and heads to the bustling port city of Madras, where East and West collide.
In this new home, Maya captivates all who watch her dance, including Thomas Pearce, an ambitious young Englishman who has travelled to India to make his fortune. But their love is forbidden and comes at enormous cost.
Weaving together the uneasy meeting of two cultures, The Pagoda Tree is a captivating story of love, loss, fate and exile in 18th-century India.