By Alys Conran
Read by Indira Varma
Three women - an engineer's wife in early 20th century India, an old lady in contemporary England and her young carer - struggling to find a place they can truly call home.
Magda lives alone in her a huge house by the sea. Bad tempered and elderly, Magda does not need help from anyone, despite being wheelchair bound. With her sharp tongue, she gets through carers at a rate of knots, until Susheela arrives.
And Susheela, it turns out, is in even more trouble than Magda. Still reeling from the recent death of her mum and trying to prop up her dad who is at risk of losing the family business, she finds she is pregnant. The future suddenly looks uncertain and frightening.
But Magda and Susheela strike up an unlikely and sometimes uneasy friendship. Magda finds herself thinking back to her early childhood in colonial India before she was sent "home" to England; a childhood filled with servants and privilege but also terrible secrets.
We also follow the story of her mother, Evelyn, once a warm hearted, and free spirited school teacher who slowly has all life and optimism ground away by a controlling husband and the misery of being a respectable member of the ruling classes. What becomes clear is that Evelyn searched for home for a long time, just like Magda, just like Susheela. And Magda begins to realise that home might not be a fortress to be ferociously defended, but may mean something else altogether.
Thoughtful, clever, and beautifully observed Dignity considers the legacy of the Raj in Britain today, but more importantly what it means to belong to a place and to other people.
(p) Orion Publishing Group Ltd 2019
- Other details
- Publication date:
04 Apr 2019
- Page count:
Dignity is an exquisite novel: compassionate, beautiful and unflinching. I'm full of admiration for the skill with which it draws connections between the past and present, and manages to feel both timeless and achingly contemporary. — Fiona McFarlane, award-winning author of THE NIGHT GUEST
Through three women's distinct and wonderful voices Alys Conran explores the nature and meaning of home. The characters in this beautiful novel are fierce, compassionate, angry, but above all, heart-breakingly real. I was drawn in from the very first page. — Claire Fuller, award-winning author of OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS and BITTER ORANGE
In Alys Conran's second novel, she tells the story of Magda, an elderly woman beset with memories of her childhood in India and her growing concern for Susheela, the young woman who works as her carer. As Magda's health fails and Susheela reveals struggles of her own, the women - difficult, complicated, sometimes unlikeable - draw closer in this surprising tale of the British Empire's long reach. This is a beguiling book with a fierce, uncompromising quality to it - a novel that continues to unfold its meaning after the story has ended. — Guinevere Glasfurd, author of THE WORDS IN MY HAND (shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award)
An exquisite novel by a great new talent. — M.J. Hyland, Man Booker Prize shortlisted author of CARRY ME DOWN on Alys Conran'sPIGEON
Might have been authored by Faulkner . . . pitch-perfect. — Omar Sabbagh, New Welsh Review on Alys Conran's PIGEON
Deceptively simple... throughly engaging... a timeless quality... I should like to recommend that the unpretentious prose of Pigeon be read primarily for its humaneness and subtle poetical spirit. — Wales Art Review on Alys Conran's PIGEON