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What to expect

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

Critics Review

  • 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… A really interesting book

    Jane Garvey, BBC Woman's Hour
  • Welsh author Alys Conran ought to turn heads with this quietly brilliant novel narrated by three women and set between present-day Britain and colonial India… When Magda, during one of her reveries, mutters a racist comment in Susheela’s earshot, it lights a slow-burn narrative in which teasing omissions keep you rapt. Bringing to life the nitty-gritty of her cast’s diverse experiences, Conran manages that elusive feat – a truly convincing state-of-the-nation novel.

    Daily Mail
  • Alys Conran’s prose packs a powerful punch, and makes you smile while breaking your heart.

  • Old age has scuppered clever Magda, who’s frustrated at needing the care that’s provided by sparky Susheela. In Susheela’s own problems, which include an unplanned pregnancy and an ex-army boyfriend who’s suffering from PTSD, Magda finds unexpected echoes of the dilemmas that awaited her mother when she left England for India, buoyed by love and hope. Conran’s fierce, compassionate second novel explores the complexities of the Raj and contemporary Britain through the eyes of three brilliantly realised characters, who are finely drawn and entirely believable.

    Mail on Sunday
  • Cleverly blends life in colonial India with life in a modern-day seaside town… Powerful, funny and heartbreaking.

    Woman magazine
  • Conran’s fierce, compassionate second novel explores the complexity of the Raj and contemporary Britain through the eyes of three brilliantly realised characters, who are finely drawn and entirely believable.


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