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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
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