She writes beautifully, as always, and the phrase-making is as good as the characterisation... brilliant. --Sunday Telegraph
These Foolish Things, a kind of less savage version of Kingsley Amis's unbearably funny novel Ending Up. Moggach's prose is markedly more graceful than Agatha Christie's, her moral world is not dissimilar', The Times .'It is characterisation at which Moggach excels. Her gift is to perceive and describe our confusions about life-and to write with feeling about the continual quest for love and happiness that is part of the human condition', Sunday Times
Also a box office smash hit starring Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench, Penelope Wilton and Celia Imrie
Enticed by advertisements for a newly restored palatial hotel and filled with visions of a life of leisure, good weather and mango juice in their gin, a group of very different people leave England to begin a new life in India. On arrival they are dismayed to find the palace is a shell of its former self, the staff more than a little eccentric, and the days of the Raj long gone. But, as they soon discover, life and love can begin again, even in the most unexpected circumstances.
From the Publisher
These Foolish Things is classic Moggach: funny, touching and so full of colours and visual details that you feel, after finishing it, as if you've already seen the movie.
About the Author
Deborah Moggach is the author of many successful novels including the bestseller The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Her screenplays include The Diary of Anne Frank and the film of Pride and Prejudice, which was nominated for a BAFTA. She lives in North London.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The Truth will set you free.
Muriel Donnelly, an old girl in her seventies, was left in a hospital cubicle for forty-eight hours. She had taken a tumble in Peckham High Street and was admitted with cuts, bruises and suspected concussion. Two days she lay in A & E, untended, the blood stiffening on her clothes.
It made the headlines. TWO DAYS! screamed the tabloids. Two days on a trolley, old, neglected, alone. St Jude's was besieged by reporters, waylaying nurses and shouting into their mobiles, didn't they know the things were forbidden? Photos showed her lolling grey head and black eye. Plucky pensioner, she had survived the Blitz for this? Her image was beamed around the country: Muriel Donnelly, the latest victim of the collapsing NHS, the latest shocking statistic showing that the British health system, once the best in the world, was disintegrating in a welter of under-funding, staff shortages and collapsing morale.
A hand-wringing why-oh-why piece appeared in the Daily Mail, an internal investigation was ordered. Dr Ravi Kapoor was interviewed. He was weary but polite. He said Mrs Donnelly had received the appropriate care and that she was waiting for a bed. He didn't mention that he would kill for an hour's sleep. He didn't mention that since the closure of the Casualty department at the neighbouring hospital his own, St Jude's, had to cope with twice the number of drunks, drug overdoses and victims of pointless violence; that St Jude's would soon be closing because its site, in the centre of Lewisham, was deemed too valuable for sick people; that the private consortium that had taken it over had sold the land to Safeways who were planning to build a superstore.
Exhausted, Ravi drove home to Dulwich. Walking up his path, he paused to breathe deeply. It was seven in the evening; somewhere a bird sang. Beside the path, daffodil blooms had shrivelled into tissue paper. Spring had come and gone without his noticing.
In the kitchen Pauline was reading the Evening Standard. The story had gathered momentum; other cases were printed, outraged relatives told their tales.
Ravi opened a carton of apple juice. 'Thing is, I didn't mention the real reason the old bat wasn't treated.'
Pauline fetched him a glass. 'Why?'
'She wouldn't let any darkies touch her.'
Pauline burst out laughing. At another time - another lifetime, it seemed - Ravi would have laughed too. Nowadays that place was unreachable, a golden land where, refreshed and rested, he could have the energy to find things funny.
Upstairs the lavatory flushed.
'Who's that?' Ravi's head reared up.
There was a silence.
'I was going to tell you,' said Pauline.
'Who is it?'
Footsteps creaked overhead.
'He won't be here for long, honestly, not this time,' she babbled. 'I've told him he's got to behave himself -'
'Who is it?'
He knew, of course.
Pauline looked at him. 'It's my father.'
Ravi was a man of compassion. He was a doctor; he tended the sick, he mended the broken. Those who were felled by accident, violence or even self-mutilation found in him a grave and reassuring presence. He bandaged up the wounds of those who lay at the wayside, unloved and unlovable; he staunched the bleeding. Nobody was turned away, ever. To do the job, of course, required detachment. He had long ago learnt a sort of numbed empathy. Bodies were problems to be solved. To heal them he had to violate them by invading their privacy, delving into them with his skilled fingers. These people were frightened. They were utterly alone, for sickness is the loneliest place on earth.
Work sealed him from the world which delivered him its casualties, the doors sighing open and surrendering them up to him; he was suspended from the life to which he would return at the end of his shift. Once home, however, he showered off the hospital smell and became a normal person. Volatile, fastidious, a lover of choral music and computer games, sympathetic enough but somewhat drained. Of course he was compassionate, but no more or less than anybody else. After all, the Hippocratic Oath need not apply on home territory. And especially not to a disgusting old sod like Norman.
Barely a week had passed and already Ravi wanted to murder his father-in-law. Norman was a retired structural engineer, a monumental bore and a man of repulsive habits. He had been thrown out of his latest residential home for putting his hand up a nurse's skirt. 'Inappropriate sexual behaviour', they called it, though Ravi could not imagine what appropriate behaviour could possibly be, where Norman was concerned. His amorous anecdotes, like a loop of musak, reappeared with monotonous regularity. Already Ravi had heard, twice this week, the one about catching the clap in Bulawayo. Being a doctor, Ravi was treated to Norman's more risqué reminiscences in a hoarse whisper.
'Get me some Viagra, old pal,' he said, when Pauline was out of the room. 'Bet you've got some upstairs.'
The man cut his toenails in the lounge! Horrible yellowing shards of rock. Ravi had never liked him and age had deepened this into loathing of the old goat with his phoney regimental tie and stained trousers. Ruthlessly selfish, Norman had neglected his daughter all her life; ten years earlier, however, pancreatic cancer had put his long-suffering wife out of her misery and he had battened on to Pauline. Once, on safari in Kenya, Ravi had watched a warthog muscling its way to a water-hole, barging aside any animal that got in its way. He retained, for some reason, a vivid image of its mud-caked arse.
'I can't stand much more of this,' he hissed. Nowadays he and Pauline had to whisper like children. Despite his general dilapidation, Norman's hearing was surprisingly sharp.
'I'm doing my best, Ravi, I'm seeing another place tomorrow, but it's difficult to find anywhere else to take him. Word gets around, you know.'