From the multiple award-winning author of West and The Redemption of Galen Pike, a captivating and propulsive novel following an Englishman seeking refuge in a remote hill town in India who finds himself caught in the crossfire of local tensions and violence.
Fleeing his demons and the dark undercurrents of contemporary life in the UK, Hilary Byrd takes refuge in a former British hill station in South India. Charmed by the foreignness of his new surroundings and by the familiarity of everything the British have left behind, 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 story of the wonders and terrors of connection in a modern world.
About the Author
Carys Davies’s debut novel West was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, runner-up for the Society of Authors’ McKitterick Prize, and winner of the Wales Book of the Year for Fiction. She is also the author of two collections of short stories, Some New Ambush and The Redemption of Galen Pike, which won the 2015 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the 2015 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. Her other awards include the Royal Society of Literature’s V.S. Pritchett Prize, the Society of Authors’ Olive Cook Short Story Award, a Northern Writers’ Award, and a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Born in Wales, she lived and worked for twelve years in New York and Chicago, and now lives in Edinburgh. The Mission House is her most recent novel.
“Luminous...Davies is a writer to watch--and to savor.” —Oprah.com, Best books of February
“A careful, quiet, skillful drama of well-meant misunderstandings and cultural divisions.” —Wall Street Journal
“Davies’ writing is sublime, taking us, in one instance, from a bomb explosion in London to India and saying something about life’s trajectory in a few lines.” —Toronto Star
“Carys Davies is unlike anyone else I have ever read. She can say in one sublime sentence what most of us struggle to come up with in a page. And The Mission House is another triumph.” —Rachel Joyce, author of Miss Benson's Beetle
“Carys Davies' enthralling fictions carry us across time and continents, and bring interior worlds to life.” —Claire Messud
“Lightly yet deftly crafted, hovering in tone somewhere between comedy, tragedy, and fable.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review
“Davies creates a world that is magical yet daubed with menace. Nuanced characters, lush descriptions of South India, and an incisive look at class and religion make for a rich and layered novel.” —Booklist, STARRED review
“This captivating, nuanced tale balances a pervading sense of melancholy with pockets of wry humor. Davies’s masterly elegy is not to be missed.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
“[Davies has] triumphed again…Subtle with nuance and alive with immediacy…A masterly achievement.”
—The Sunday Times (UK)
“Brilliantly crafted...Having subtly prepared the ground, Davies finally springs the jaws of her plot, revealing, heartbreakingly, to us...what kind of story this really is.”
—The Daily Mail (UK)
—The Bookseller, Editor's Choice (UK)
“[A] fresh take on a familiar trope…Byrd is like so many others, from beatniks to empire loyalists, who form a connection not with real Indians but with a fantasy of India fashioned out of their own ideological prejudices and psychological needs. The Mission House truthfully reveals that the new realities of India will increasingly have their revenge on these tired old romances.”
—The Guardian (UK)
“A delicately political tale.”
“Timeless..No words are wasted yet her conjuring of place and character are rich and vivid.”
—The Times (UK)
“Unsparing and shocking…At first glance a simply told tale, The Mission House has a twisted brilliance that is mesmerizing.”—The Saturday Paper (Australia)
“A compelling read. Carys Davies has an amazing gift for summoning up a place, a situation, the characters. Her skill is that of brevity, nailing a personality with a few lines of dialogue, saying most by saying least.”
—Penelope Lively, author of Moon Tiger
“An astonishingly assured and gripping piece of work and a worthy follow-up to West. Davies has a voice unlike any I’ve read: clean, otherworldly, eerily original, and capable of devastating effect.”
—Julie Myerson, author of Something Might Happen
“I felt, reading this extraordinary novel, that the thorough oddity of its chief characters, their strange innocence, amounts to a revolt, on our behalf too, against the stupidity, cruelty, fanaticism and bigoted violence of the world in which they more or less successfully live their eccentric lives.”
—David Constantine, author of In Another Country
“The Mission House is an absolute triumph. That rare type of book - resoundingly tender, and gently heart-wrenching. Carys Davies doesn't drop a sentence. I was deeply moved, and spellbound.”
—Cynan Jones, author of The Dig
“Wonderfully written – with the simplicity of fairy tale, the heft of fable and all the human sadness and joy of misfits.”
—Bernard MacLaverty, author of Midwinter Break
“Tender, playful, piercing, light-footed—this is an irresistible novel.”
—Michelle de Kretser, author of Questions of Travel and The Hamilton Case