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Novel set in a restaurant was inspired by a Oswestry venue, says author

There was a double celebration at an Oswestry restaurant with the launch of a new novel and a chance for a restaurateur to say thank you to the town.

Novelist Nilopar Uddin with her novel The Halfways
Novelist Nilopar Uddin with her novel The Halfways

George Miah, who owns the Simla restaurant, was awarded the British Empire Medal, for his work for charity and within the Muslim and Bangladeshi societies in Shropshire.

Mr Miah held a thank you lunch for some of those who he has been involved with in the community over the years.

He also invited novelist Nilopar Uddin, the daughter of his former business partner, to launch her new book at the lunch.

Nilopar's debut novel, The Halfways, is partly set in a restaurant in the Brecon Beacons but, she says the setting is inspired by The Simla.

Novelist Nilopar Uddin launches her book is The Halfways at The Simla in Oswestry with George Miah and Mayor Jay Moore

The lawyer and author, grew up in Oswestry, spending time as a child in the restaurant.

The Halfways tells the story of Nasrin and Sabrina, two sisters, who on the face of things live successful and enviable lives in London and New York. When their father, Shamsur suddenly dies, they rush to be with their mother at the family home and restaurant in Wales, reluctantly stepping back into their childhood.

When Shamsur's will is read, a devastating secret is revealed that challenges and creates a family rift.

The family drama spans four decades and moves between London, Wales, New York and Bangladesh.

Novelist Nilopar Uddin launches her book at The Simla

Nilopar said: "There were two main themes that dominated my childhood reading – fairy tales and boarding schools. My dad would drop me off at Oswestry Library on Saturday mornings, and I would scan the bookshelves for new renditions of the classic fairytales," she said.

But she said that as she grew into her teenager years she found a love for panoramic, immersive novels of epic scope and for pre- and post-partition India. She said The Halfways is a love letter to the idea of family being a pillar of society.

George said he was delighted to welcome Nilopar back to Oswestry.

He said the event was also a chance to be able to say thank you to those who welcomed his family to Oswestry more than four decades ago and in the years since.

"Oswestry has given me my life and my livelihood. The community has welcomed us with open arms," he said.

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