The Mission House | Granta

  • Published: 06/08/2020
  • ISBN: 9781783784301
  • Granta Books
  • 256 pages

The Mission House

Carys Davies

Fleeing the dark undercurrents of contemporary life in Britain, Hilary Byrd takes refuge in Ooty, a hill station in South India. There he finds solace in life’s simple pleasures, travelling by rickshaw around the small town with his driver Jamshed and staying in a mission house beside the local presbytery where the Padre and his adoptive daughter Priscilla have taken Hilary under their wing.

The Padre is concerned for Priscilla’s future, and as Hilary’s friendship with the young woman grows, he begins to wonder whether his purpose lies in this new relationship. But religious tensions are brewing and the mission house may not be the safe haven it seems.

The Mission House boldly and imaginatively explores post-colonial ideas in a world fractured between faith and non-belief, young and old, imperial past and nationalistic present. Tenderly subversive and meticulously crafted, it is a deeply human fable of the wonders and terrors of connection in a modern world.

The Mission House puts another genre, Raj fiction, to fresh purposes... The prevailing tone modulates between gentle humour and low-key poignancy... Subtle with nuance and alive with immediacy, again adroitly using small-scale effects to enlarge understanding and extend empathy, the resulting novel is a masterly achievement

Sunday Times

A novel about the pitfalls of human connection in contemporary India... Davies's use of [language] reveals an ear finely tuned to subcontinental peculiarities... The Mission House is an interesting take on a familiar trope: the westerner who finds in India deliverance from the wasteland of modernity

Guardian

Brilliantly crafted... Having subtly prepared the ground, Davies finally springs the jaws of her plot, revealing, heartbreakingly, to us and the tragically blinkered Hilary, what kind of story this really is

Daily Mail

The Author

Carys Davies‘s first novel West won the Wales Book of the Year Fiction Award, was Runner-Up for the Society of Author’s McKitterick Prize and was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize. Her short stories have been widely published and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Her second collection, The Redemption of Galen Pike, won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award 2015. She lives in Edinburgh.

More about the author →

From the Same Author

West

When Cy Bellman, American settler and widowed father of Bess, reads in the newspaper that huge ancient bones have been discovered in a Kentucky swamp, he leaves his small Pennsylvania farm and young daughter to find out if the rumours are true: that the giant monsters are still alive, and roam the uncharted wilderness beyond the Mississippi River.

West is the story of Bellman’s journey and of Bess, waiting at home for her father to return. Written with compassionate tenderness and magical thinking, it explores the courage of conviction, the transformative power of grief, the desire for knowledge and the pull of home, from an exceptionally talented and original British writer. It is a radiant and timeless epic-in-miniature, an eerie, electric monument to possibility.

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‘I would explain to you then, if I could, the theory that in the case of hairline shape, there are two possible variants or alleles: straight, or widow’s peak.’

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Carys Davies' new novel is a mesmerising depiction of the uncharted wilderness beyond the Mississippi River

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‘All good stories are both resonant and concrete; they live in the mind of the reader and reverberate beyond the pages of the book.’