Today, I am back with a new short book review and this time, it’s The Mission House, the new novel from Carys Davies.
My copy of this book was kindly gifted as part of a read-a-long for the book. I haven’t read anything from Carys Davies before but I know that she is well-known and well-loved in the book world and when I saw this book, it grabbed my interest and I thought I would give it a go… but before we go any further, what is it about? Here is the blurb:
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 is a deeply human fable of the wonders and terrors of connection in a modern world.
I was really excited to read this book, but sadly… it just didn’t work for me. I thought the premise sounded brilliant and I enjoyed the first few opening pages, especially with its description of India as it felt as you were actually there but sadly, it just went wrong from there…
I think she is a great writer and that shows throughout the novel but when I turned the last page, I was kept thinking: what did I just read? What happened? What was the point? It felt like that through pretty much most of the novel, to be honest. I think the main thing was that I just didn’t connect enough with the characters. It didn’t grab my attention and it was a book that I wouldn’t be pining to go back to and read.
And by looking at some other reviews, some others agreed with me and some loved it, too. Perhaps it’s a marmite book! But for me, I was glad to finish it. It sounds harsh, I know, but I think there is a great book in there but just a bit muddled… I think I will read more from Carys Davies in the future.
Have you read The Mission House? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!