Opening dramatically with the horrors of the 2005 London bombings, this is the profoundly moving story of a country on the brink of civil war and a child's struggle to come to terms with loss.
London. On a bright July morning a series of bombs bring the capital to a halt. Simon Swann, a medic from one of the large teaching hospitals, is searching frantically amongst the chaos and the rubble. All around police sirens and ambulances are screaming, but Simon does not hear.
He is out of breath because he has been running, and he is distraught. But who is he looking for?
To find out we have first to go back 30 years to a small island in the Indian Ocean where a little girl named Alice Fonseka is learning to ride a bicycle on the beach. The island is Sri Lanka, with its community on the brink of civil war. Alice's life is about to change forever. Soon she will have to leave for England, abandoning her beloved grandfather, and accompanied by her mother Sita, a woman broken by a series of terrible events. In London, Alice grows into womanhood.
Trapped in a loveless marriage, she has a son. Slowly she fulfils her grandfather's prophecy and becomes an artist. Eventually she finds true love. But London in the twenty first century is a mass of migration and suspicion. The war on terror has begun and everyone, even Simon Swann, middle class, rational, medic that he is, will be caught up in this war in the most unexpected and terrible way.
©2010 Roma Tearne (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
"Prose so lush it appeals to every sense, the pages are suffused with the scents and tastes, ring with the sounds of Sri Lanka and South London... Roma Tearne is an exquisite writer and captivating storyteller, such that the reader is endlessly torn between the desire to linger and the urge to turn the page to see where she will take us next." (Aminatta Forna)
"Tearne brings her skills as a painter to her writing, creating some extraordinarily lovely portraits of Sri Lankan land and seascapes, a stunning backdrop to the changing horrors of the country's 20-year civil war. Anyone who has visited, or has a passing interest in Sri Lanka, should read this beautiful novel." (Sunday Telegraph)
If my friend asked me to recommend a sad book, I would most definitely recommend Brixton Beach.
I liked listening to the history of Ceylon.
Brilliant, Clear and Warm
Only if the film would be made with a happy ending ;-)
This story was fascinating but sad.
Didn't enjoy this book anywhere near as much as 'The Swimmer'. However, it was stylishly written and the characters were believable. Loved the contrast between the beauty of Sri Lanka and the dreary portrayal of 70's London
I listened to the Audible version of this book, beautifully read by Charlotte Stevens. I wonder if I would have enjoyed it less if I had read the hard copy.
The story is basically that of Alice Fonseca who is 9 years old when we meet her at the start of the book. She is living in Sri Lanka with her parents; a Singhalese mother and a Tamil father. Unfortunately this cross cultural marriage causes problems as Sri Lanka heads towards civil war in 1983. The problems are poiniantly illustrated by the loss of Alice's baby sister who is still-born due to a lack of adequate medical care, soley because the baby's father is Tamil. Alice's mother never really recovered from this event, leaving Alice with only her Grandfather - Bee, as moral support within the family. When Alice and her parents leave Sri Lanka for England and safety, she feels entirely alone.
Brixton Beach is quite a depressing story. In spite of the wonderful descriptions of Sri Lanka in the first half, the general mood of the book is more akin to the correspondingly drab descriptions of life in England in the second half. I would have liked a little more joy in the book.
In my opinion Alice ended up with the wrong man (won't say more for fear of spoilers).
I would also have preferred that the book had not started with the London bombings of 2005 - they could have been more effectively simply added at the end.
In addition, I didn't particularly like Simon and didn't really see the point in the reference to the opera-loving beauty that he saw in his youth and subsequently searched for at future operas.
A good read but overall I preferred Bone China by the same author.
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