Dignity – Alys Conran
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published: 4th April 2019, Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Swathi’s Rating: 4.5/5
Verdict: Gorgeously crafted poetic prose, a must read for woman!
Dignity is one of those books that captured my attention right through the blurb. And then I started reading about Alys Conran and her incredible history and I knew I would devour her book so much.
DIGNITY is the story of three women – Evelyn, Magda and Susheela – each of a different generation searching for a place to call home, and struggling against a legacy of resentment, guilt and blood. But it is also a powerful novel about race, the dying days of the Raj, the legacy of the British Empire and the future of a small seaside town in contemporary Britain.
Magda is a former scientist with a bad temper and a sharp tongue, living alone in a huge house by the sea. She gets through carers at a rate of knots. Until Susheela arrives.
The two women strike up an unlikely friendship: Magda’s no-nonsense approach to life turns out to be an unexpected source of strength for Susheela; and Susheela’s Bengali heritage brings back memories of Magda’s childhood in colonial India and of her mother Evelyn’s struggle to fit in within the suffocating structure of the Raj’s ruling class.
Evelyn, Magda and Susheela. Three women searching for a place to belong, somewhere to call home. Three lives connected by a legacy of resentment, blood, guilt and hope.
Dignity revolves around the lives of three women – Magda, Susheela and Evelyn (Magda’s mother).
Magda is a former scientist, who is now confirmed to a wheel chair and locked inside her own large home and rely on the caretakers help even for the smallest movement. It’s for this reason, that she hates her caretakers finding them boring and lame until Susheela comes along.
Susheela is the new caretaker to Magda. She is from India and suffers relationship issues with her father and boyfriend. She finds her job as a caretaker to be emotionally tiring as she gets very little time to spend with the ones she cares and that’s practically not enough. When she starts her schedule with Magda, she starts warming herself to her even after Magda’s stubborn nature and insecurity to give away her slowly declining dignity.
These two women form an unlikely friendship, reminding Magda of her time as a child in the colonial India and her relationship with her mother Evelyn. Evelyn comes to India during the British Raj to find her husband and instead faced by the harsh times witnessing the cruelties of colonisation, slavery and struggle to withhold one’s dignity.
I loved the beautiful poetic prose that connects these three women of varying ages and nature but belonging to the same race of womanhood as they experience heartbreak, motherhood, family and love.
With a gorgeous cover that would attract the lookers, Alys Conran’s Dignity is a masterpiece that every woman must read and enjoy! Many thanks to Virginia for my Proof copy and Tracy Fenton for including me in the Blog Tour. Follow what my fellow incredible bloggers have to say!!
ALYS CONRAN’s first novel PIGEON won the Wales Book of the Year Award 2017, the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award, The Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Award, was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and longlisted for the Author’s Choice First Novel Award. Her short fiction has been placed in the Bristol Short Story Prize and the Manchester Fiction Prize. She also publishes poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction, creative essays and literary translations.
Originally from north Wales, she spent several years in Edinburgh and Barcelona before returning to the area to live and write. She speaks Welsh and English as first languages, and also speaks Spanish and Catalan. She has worked as a youth worker, teacher, and in community arts and is now Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bangor. Her late father, also a writer, was born in Kharagpur, Bengal.