The Mission House, by Carys Davies (hardback, Aug 2020)
A fabulous writer,- she also wrote West, and a short story collection called The Redemption of Galen Pike. If you enjoy evocative prose, great characterisation and perhaps even the context of the setting in India, you will love this.
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.