Dorothy Koomson is one of my favourite authors and I am delighted to have just read her most recent book, The Rose Petal Beach. It is a poignant story of deceit and betrayal that compels the reader to keep on reading to the very end. It is an emotional thriller that questions how far one might go in the name of love and how, when things go wrong, rational thought can so easily be lost.
The story starts very dramatically when Tamia Challey’s husband, Scott, is arrested in his own home in front of her and their two daughters, Cora and Anansy. It turns out that he is accused of a serious sexual assault against his colleague, Mirabelle Kemini, who also happens to be one of Tamia’s best friends. Suddenly, Tamia finds herself in the middle, torn between believing her husband or her best friend. Scott’s account of what happened, entirely different from Mirabelle’s, is very plausible but at the same time, is utterly devastating. What occurs from then on, is Tamia’s story, of what happens when overnight everything that she believed was true and good about her life, is taken away from her. As you can imagine, it’s a book that’s best read with a box of tissues close by!
This is only the start of it though, and things go from worse to even more so, as a series of events unfold. This leads to Tamia ultimately questioning herself and wondering what she might be truly capable of in the name of hate. Her feelings of sadness turn to desperation and fear as she wonders what will become of her and whether she will still be around to look after her children. I don’t want to say any more about the actual plot as that would spoil the enjoyment of reading the book; however, I hope and have said enough to whet your appetite for what is a very dramatic read.
I love the way that The Rose Petal Beach is written and how Dorothy Koomson builds up the tension little by little until you are at the point where you are on the edge of your seat wanting to know what is going to happen next. The pace is really good for this and enables her to drop bombshells at pivotal moments. My heart really went out to Tamia as I was reading as each time she would start to pick herself up, another of these bombshells would explode. It really does make for compelling reading.
I also like the way that the story is told from different characters’ points of view. The main storyteller is Tami but we also get parts of the story told by her friend Beatrix and later, by a character called Fleur, whose appearance midway through the story comes as a bit of a surprise. The story also moves backwards and forwards in time and this gives the effect of slowly putting the pieces of a large and complex jigsaw puzzle together.
Tami is a wonderful character too and it is very easy to empathise with her as she struggles not knowing who to believe. Her feelings of hurt and despair are described vividly and the reader can’t help but feel for her desperately.
Overall, The Rose Petal Beach is a fantastic book that will capture the reader from the very first pages. It’s an intricate story with lots of unexpected twists and it also makes you wonder what you might do in similar circumstances. This is the sort of book that I can’t get enough of and I just wanted to keep reading more and more. It’s a perfect read.
The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson
Published by Quercus, August 2012
Thanks to Quercus for sending a review copy.
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