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The Mission House

A novel by

The Sunday Times (London) Novel of the Year
“Luminous…a writer to watch—and to savor.” —Oprah Daily

From the award-winning author of West and The Redemption of Galen Pike, a “sublime” (The Toronto Star) and propulsive novel that follows an Englishman seeking refuge in a remote hill town in India who gets caught in the crossfire of local tensions.

In this “jewel of a novel” (
The Observer), Hilary Byrd flees his demons and the dark undercurrents of contemporary life in England for 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, after a chance meeting, the Padre and his adoptive daughter Priscilla take 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.

A “skillful drama of well-meant misunderstandings and cultural divisions” (
TheWall Street Journal), The Mission House boldly and imaginatively explores postcolonial ideas in a world fractured between faith and nonbelief, 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.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"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

"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

"Tender, playful, piercing, light-footed—this is an irresistible novel." - Michelle de Kretser

"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

"Wonderfully written – with the simplicity of fairy tale, the heft of fable and all the human sadness and joy of misfits." - Bernard MacLaverty

"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

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