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 brings 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 thirty 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, and its community is 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.
`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
`[A] richly characterised, elegantly modulated and deeply moving novel.' Michael Arditti, Daily Mail
`An ambitious, lyrical novel, distinguished by its refusal to offer false consolation.' TLS
`Tearne is a vividly sensitive writer who spares her readers unnecessary sentiment and hones in on raw emotions just below the surface. The refugee in all of us can recognise the desperate desire to belong and the sometimes terrible price we pay for it.' Julie Wheelwright, Independent
'The most moving novels of war speak of the battles fought within individual human hearts; causes and geographies are their backdrop. A timely lament for the dead and displaced of the Sri Lankan civil war, Roma Tearne's third novel, Brixton Beach, follows four generations of a family doomed to be estranged not only from their land, but also from love.' Chris Cleave, Financial Times
'Rich and satisfying, and written with a painter's instinct for the beautiful.' Kate Saunders, The Times
Roma Tearne fled Sri Lanka at the age of ten, travelling to Britain where she has spent most of her life. She gained her Master's degree at the Ruskin Shool of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford, and was Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. She was recently awarded a fellowship in the visual arts by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain. She lives and works in Oxford.