A powerful novel about belonging, race, British India and contemporary Britain, by the Dylan Thomas Prize-shortlisted author of Pigeon.
Magda lives alone in her a huge house by the sea. A former scientist with a bad temper and a good dose of old fashioned British pride, she does not need help from anyone – despite her derelict house and her body’s many betrayals. 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 heartbroken dad, she finds herself falling for Ewan, a beautiful, fragile young man recovering from the brutal experience of war.
The two women – seemingly separated by class, culture and time – strike up an unlikely and sometimes uneasy friendship. Magda’s no-nonsense approach to life turns out to be an unexpected source of strength for Susheela; and Susheela’s Bengali heritage brings back memories of Magda’s childhood in colonial India, a time filled with servants and privilege, and terrible secrets.
Those memories slowly bring back to life the tragic figure of Magda’s mother, Evelyn, once a warm hearted, and free-spirited school teacher in rural England who had her innocent optimism ground away by a controlling husband and the misery of being a respectable member of the Raj’s ruling class – with devastating consequences.