TIGER HILLS is a multi-generational family saga with the sweeping love story of a pair of star-crossed lovers at its heart. The novel has been described as a cross between GONE WITH THE WIND and THE THORN BIRDS. This tale of forbidden, doomed love gains a fresh twist from its setting --- a picturesque coffee plantation in Coorg in southern India at the time of British colonial rule. The Coorg people, portrayed in the book as a tough and fiercely loyal group who live by a strict code of honor governed by intricate clan relationships, are relatively little known even within India. TIGER HILLS turns a lens on this land and its people during the late 1800s and early 1900s, during a time of great cultural change that was sweeping the Indian nation.
The birth of Devi, the seventh child in the Nachimanda clan, is heralded by the arrival of hundreds of herons, which suddenly swoop down from the air to land in a silent cloud of white by her laboring mother's feet. Devi's mother and the old village priest have misgivings about what this mysterious occurrence might foretell for the newborn girl. But the child grows up to be beautiful and impetuous, resilient even in the face of the early death of her mother, and all the more pampered and doted on by her father and grandmother as a result. When the Nachimandas bring a wealthy and orphaned young boy, Devanna, into the family to raise as their own, he too is immediately smitten with Devi. While Devi and Devanna are inseparable as children, with Devi functioning as timid Devanna's fierce protector and idol, they inevitably drift apart as the years roll by.
Devanna catches the eye of a German missionary, a man determined to atone for a youthful transgression by acting as a father figure to the young boy. At his urging, Devanna goes to live with the priest and a group of nuns at the mission, where he immerses himself in the study of botany and the search for rare orchids from the Coorg hills. The quiet, reserved boy excels in his studies and soon enrolls at a prestigious medical college in the city to prepare himself for life as a doctor, with the goal of bringing modern medicine to his people. During his difficult and lonely time in medical school where he becomes the target of bullying by a particularly vicious older student, Devanna consoles him