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Released: March 2016
ISBN: 9781311691910
ASIN: B01BLL9CVO
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OUTCAST
Author: Dianne Noble
Length: Full Length
Genre: Contermporary Fiction
Price: $4.99

Rose leaves her Cornwall café to search for her daughter in the sweltering slums of Kolkata, India.

In the daily struggle for survival, she is often brought to her knees, but finds strength to overcome the poverty and disease, grows to love the Dalit community she helps.

But then there are deaths, and she fears for her own safety.

Her café at home is at risk of being torched, and finally, she has to make the terrible choice between her daughter and the Indian children.

Excerpt
Penzance, Cornwall

The minute she heard Tom’s voice Rose knew it meant trouble. In the three years since the divorce their only contact had been by email, infrequent and stiff.

The day had begun like any other. It was barely light when the alarm went off. Rose felt for her slippers with eyes still shut and groped her way to the bathroom. She dragged a brush through her hair, noting the roots needed attention, pulled on yesterday’s clothes and sped along the beach path to Newlyn, the wind blowing salt spray into her face. The fishing boats had already unloaded and the container lorries, heavily laden, were rumbling up the hill on their way to the restaurants of London.

Once she had collected the crab and started back, the town began to stir. Windows were opened, pavements swept, the awnings of the ice cream parlour released from their overnight restraints. The hum of a milk float, the clink of bottles. In doorways winos slumbered on, their dogs alert and watchful. The first claps of thunder rolled through the town as she reached home.

Full English breakfasts ran seamlessly into cottage pies and then the pace slowed for crab sandwiches and cream teas. The café had been full all day, a tropical rainforest, the windows steamed up and smells of wet wool, wet humanity. Broken-spoked umbrellas leaned wearily against walls, cagoules dripped from chair backs. A buzz of conversation, clatter of crockery, the gurgle of the coffee machine, waitresses scurrying back and forth to the kitchen balancing trays.

By five p.m. when Rose shepherded the last stragglers out, she longed for a cup of Earl Grey. She had just opened the fridge for lemon when the call came through. With a sigh she picked up the receiver. Felt the cat wreathe itself round her legs.

‘Yes?’

‘Have you had the radio on?’

‘What?’

‘Sit down, Rose.’ No formalities, no pleasantries. He sounded strained.

‘What’s happened?’ Aware her voice was rising, she scrabbled behind her for a chair. ‘It’s Ellie, isn’t it? Tell me.’

‘I’ve been at Heathrow all day.’

She struggled to hear him as the rain rattled on the window like thrown gravel. ‘Isn’t she there? Did you miss her? Have you phoned the airline?’ Her fingernails dug into the palms of her hands. The scream of a siren outside somewhere.

‘Can’t get through.’ His voice cracked. He was crying. ‘Rose…the plane is missing.’

Darkness crept in from the edges of her vision, a rushing sound in her ears. ‘A plane can’t just disappear.’ Her lips numb, she struggled to form the words.

‘It landed at Dubai, but they lost contact after it took off again.’

‘Somebody must know where it is,’ she shouted. ‘Have you asked—?’

‘Of course I’ve bloody asked.’ He took a ragged breath. ‘We’re all waiting for further news.’

‘But can’t you…surely…you must…have you tried her mobile?’

‘She lost it. Hasn’t replaced it. I’ll phone again when I know something. Keep the line free.’

A click. Rose stared at the receiver, her fingers white where she had twisted the cord round them. Thought of cigarettes. Years since she’d stopped but she felt a desperate need for a huge lungful of nicotine. She couldn’t just sit and wait. Leapt to her feet and sped upstairs. Drummed on the desk as she waited for her laptop to fire up. Mis-typed the name of the airline. Tried again. Cursed at the crap internet speed in Cornwall. As soon as the contact number appeared on the screen she snatched up the phone. Remembered Tom’s words about keeping the landline free and slammed it down again. Scrabbled through her handbag for her mobile, tipping the contents on the floor. Punched in the number, muttering.

Come on, come on.

No sodding signal again. She threw the phone across the room where it bounced off an armchair and slid under the settee. Maybe there’d been an email? Not likely. Months since Ellie had been in touch with her—it was always Tom she turned to—but she checked anyway. Nothing.

She shivered as she stood at the window. Sails of rain blew across the promenade, people hurried past, a woman in a yellow mac, head bent into the wind. Rose wrapped her arms around her body, rocked herself. Maybe the plane had made a forced landing and they’d hear soon. But why had there been no radio contact? A plane couldn’t be there one minute and not the next.

It could if it crashed.

Her throat contracted. She heard little moaning sounds and wondered where they came from. Tears ran down her cheeks and splashed on the window sill. She couldn’t be gone. Not Ellie. Not her only child. Pictures flashed across her mind; Ellie in her red snowsuit trying to catch the falling flakes, Ellie beaming with delight when she won the sack race, Ellie trying not to cry when she had her leg stitched. And then Ellie, her face sullen, on her graduation day.

Please, God, don’t let me lose her. She should never have been in India. This is all Tom’s fault.

What the reviewers are saying
Inspiring Contemporary Read
The writing style is very atmospheric, you definitely see, hear, smell, taste as Rose does. The pacing is fast due to an unusual use of extremely short sentences. A technique which left me constantly thinking I needed to catch up and the style is quite exhausting at times. Rose had my admiration, not everyone could be so giving to people in these situations nor expose themselves to the conditions she had to work and live in. An inspiring read. ~ Roses are Amber, Amazom

• • •

Gripping tale of travel and self-discovery
Fascinating detail of life there and well-paced oscillation between the challenges of India, the life the heroine, Rose, has left behind in Cornwall. A tale of torn loyalties, with a final heart-warming resolution. ~ Lynne Vernon, Amazon

• • •

If you enjoy literature about India, then this is for you. I adored such books as City of Joy by Dominique La Pierre, and Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Outcast by Dianne Noble is another one joining my bookshelf of fabulous books.
Ms Noble writes with such ease and, without clogging up the text with deep descriptions, manages to take the reader right into the heart of the Dalit community (also known as the Untouchables) so that I felt, for the last couple of days while "devouring" this book, that I was there too smelling the stench, watching the families living in poverty between two barriers in the middle of a motorway and melting at the sight of a rare smile from the children who are just happy to survive another day. The joy of the book is the enthusiasm with which these people have learning to speak English with Rose, the main character.
There are a couple of sub-plots which are essential to the main story and which are neatly tied up at the end, leaving me completely satisfied that I've read a truly stimulating book. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Noble. ~ Susan Roebuck, Goodreads

• • •

. . .the narrative is descriptive, with a good plot and pace . . . I love that the author uses the sense of smell to bring her scenes to life. This is one sense that a lot of writers forget about. Also, the narrative achieves a healthy balance between description and letting readers imagine it for themselves. Throughout, the story-telling feels authentic and believable. I have to note how much I adore the book cover: awesome! Had I seen this on a bookshop shelf, I would have picked it up for a closer look based on the cover alone. ~ Harmony Kent, Amazon

• • •

In this her first novel, Dianne Noble introduces us to the horrendous level of life-threatening deprivation suffered by the lowest level of society in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), capital of West Begal but pricks any incipient western smugness by depicting, alongside the Bencali location, the sleazy deprivation suffered by the lowest level of society in British Cornwall. The teme running through this novel are the parameters of motherhood, when to support, when to discipline and when to let go.
In the past I have regarded Tirgear (sic) Press as the publisher of well-written but comparatively lightweight genre novels suitable for relaxed holiday reads They are to be congratulated on adding this more in-depth novel to their lists. ~ Margaret, Goodreads

• • •

Totally Absorbing
It’s difficult to believe that this is a debut novel, it is so confidently written. The author has a gift for such vivid and colourful descriptions that they made me feel that I was actually experiencing both the beauty and poverty of India. I found the children, so deprived and yet eager to greet each day, especially poignant. Add an absorbing plot skilfully developed and this is a novel I have no hesitation in highly recommending. ~ Mnskip, Amazon

• • •

This novel has an excellent sense of place
I've never been to India but Dianne's descriptions of Kolkata and the slums were so vivid that I feel as though I've spent time there. This book was a real eye opener on the suffering that goes on in that part of the world. ~ SallyJ, Amazon

• • •

A coming-of-age story with a difference.
This is an unexpectedly touching and truthful novel of family relationships, which can lift you up or drag you down . . . This novel is as transformative as it is absorbing. Watching these characters change takes us with them, in full sensory and emotional detail. Noble conjures cultural shocks in such immersive prose – whether the limited options of a small Cornish town or the unlimited dangers of a Kolkata slum – the reader is there: hot, angry, confused, disgusted, sad, itchy and overjoyed. This beautifully written book transports you to a place where the foreign and familiar are equally scary. A thoroughly absorbing read. ~ Bookmuseuk, Goodreads

• • •

This is a book that I went into not knowing what to expect and when I finished, I was left with a feeling of WOW! Just wow! . . . Ms Noble really brings you into the story engaging all your senses as you read. I will say one thing, I didn't find the book blurb to be an adequate representation of the book. Yes there's drama on both sides of the story, but it isn't as intense as the blurb would make it out to be. I totally loved this book and look forward to reading more by this author. ~ Andrea Guy, Goodreads

 

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