Shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year award’I loved this… Magda is a real stand-out character for me in books I’ve read recently, I can’t quite stop thinking about her’ Jane Garvey, BBC Woman’s Hour ‘Brilliant… A truly convincing state-of-the-nation novel’ Daily Mail ‘Packs a powerful punch and makes you smile while breaking your heart’Woman’s Weekly ‘Fierce and compassionate’Mail on Sunday ‘Conran’s work is subtle and complex: there is no one right story about the Empire.
Instead we are offered multiple views, ironies and contradictions that only one of most talented, tender writers in Wales could portray’New Welsh Review ‘Fierce, compassionate, angry, but above all, heart-breakingly real. I was drawn in from the very first page’Claire Fuller, author of Bitter Orange ‘An Indian household can no more be governed peacefully without dignity and prestige, than an Indian Empire’ The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook, Flora Annie Steel & Grace Gardiner Magda is a former scientist with a bad temper and a sharp tongue, now living alone in a huge house by the sea. Confined to a wheelchair, her once spotless home crumbling around her, she gets through carers at a rate of knots.
Until Susheela arrives, bursting through the doors of Magda’s house, carrying life with her: grief for her mother’s recent death; worry for her father; longing for a beautiful and troubled young man. The two women strike up an unlikely friendship: Magda’s old-fashioned, no-nonsense attitude 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 and resurrects the tragic figure of her mother, Evelyn, and her struggle to fit within the suffocating structure of the Raj’s ruling class. But as Magda digs deeper into her past, she unlocks a shocking legacy of blood that threatens to destroy the careful order she has imposed on her life – and that might just be the key to give the three women, Evelyn, Magda and Susheela, a place they can finally call home.
‘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, author of The Night Guest