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Civil Lines

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In the early 1990s, Rupa Sharma founds a magazine and pens her first – and last – editorial:

The future has never looked brighter. The fires of communal tension appear to have been vanquished. More women are entering the workforce than ever before, and everywhere I look, I see new possibilities. I see dialogue, I see tolerance, and I see openness. I see hope for myself and my colleagues, and for the two daughters I am bringing up to be fearless inheritors of this earth.

Decades later, her daughter Siya travels to Delhi in the wake of her reclusive mother’s death, leaving behind a failing relationship and an unravelling life. Waiting at home are her estranged sister Maya and a crumbling Lutyens behemoth that is proving too cumbersome to maintain.

The two sisters rattle around the house until a cryptic note falls out from their mother’s papers: I saw last night as a meeting between old friends. That you considered my conduct overfamiliar fills me with endless regret. As Siya and Maya try to decipher the words and piece together what happened, they find themselves uncovering both dreams and long-buried secrets, finding new resolve as they look to breathe fresh life into their mother’s shattered vision.

Shocking, poignant, and life-affirming, Civil Lines is a family saga that explores belonging and is also an ode to every girl in every generation who dreams that a brighter future lies within her grasp.

Radhika Swarup was longlisted for the Best First Novel Award of the Author’s Club for Where the River Parts (Sandstone Press, 2016) and it was also one of Amazon India's most memorable books of 2016. She studied at Cambridge University and worked in finance before turning to writing. Radhika lives in London with her husband and two children but travels frequently to India. Radhika lives in London with her husband and two children and divides her time between England and India.