This is a very moving story of greed, illicit relationship, chasing you dreams, destiny taking you to unimaginable, power of faith, superstition, luck and finally divinity.
My first introduction to RK Narayan was through TV serials 'Swami' and 'Malgudi days'. I was a kid so i liked Swami very much which was about the antics of a young boy and his friends. The stories of Malgudi days were a bit mature and found them boring at that time. Today in hindsight i see that they have great psychological depth, beauty and yet were simple.
Similarly i did not read the guide first. I saw the Devanad-Waheeda Rahman starrer guide first and was smitten by it. I find it the best Hindi movie till date. Then i found out that it is based on a novel of same name by RK Narayan. In fact his brother RK Laxman is more famous coz his cartoon used to appear on front page of TOI daily.
So very next day i bought the book and read it. Both are equally good but not similar. Chetan Anand (director) has taken some liberties and made changes.
I heard RKN did not agree to the changes. The book traces the story of a small boy raju who is poor and doesn't have father. He becomes a famous Raju guide. One fine day a archaeologist comes and hires him. Raju seduces his lonely wife Rosie who wants to be a dancer. Raju promised her to make one and she elopes with him. And he helps her to realize her dreams. Soon Raju becomes insecure and does a foolish crime for which he is jailed. After serving his time he doesn't come back home due to shame. He goes away and takes shelter in an old decrepit temple. There the villagers mistake him for a godmen and rest is the story of his evolution and faith.
PS I suggest you watch the movie first. Firstly it was made in english due to fear of backlash of Indian Public. So when you will read the novel whenever you will read Raju and Rosie, you will imagine Devanad and Waheeda Rehman.