At the turn of the century in a remote corner of India, an English civil servant and a reluctant Hindu bride cross paths during a cataclysmic rainstorm. Nine months later a boy is born. The astrologer's chart does not bode well . . .
Pran Nath's startling whiteness is regarded as a sign of nobility, but when his true parentage is revealed he is ejected from his father's house and begins a haphazard journey through the bizarre dark side of the British Empire. Sold to a pair of eunuchs, he is taken to a backwater state in the Punjab and becomes the bait in the dynastic intrigues of a dissolute Indian court.
Escaping to Bombay he reinvents himself as Pretty Bobby, prince of the red light district, while around him the Raj slides into decadence and the slums seethe with political discontent. Then a chance encounter with a drunken Englishman leads to the most daring reinvention of them all.