As Anandhayi gives birth to her fifth child downstairs, with only her ancient mother-in-law for help, upstairs her husband Periyannan sleeps with a woman he has summoned to spend the night with him. Women of many generations live in that house at the end of the road; with the tyrannical and charismatic Periyannan always try to bring them under his control. Voracious in his appetites, for both power and sex, Periyannan is a domineering antagonist to the tender but tenacious Anandhayi.
In her most celebrated novel, Sivakami vividly evokes a world where women and men are in constant conflict, scrambling for the little power to which they can hold on. It is her superb satiric eye—capturing in comic vignettes of exquisite detail the life of women in a village transforming into a small town—that brings relief to this bleak, blistering vision of humanity, leaving the reader simultaneously amused and devastated.