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A Kind of Eden [Paperback]

Amanda Smyth
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: £11.99
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Book Description

11 July 2013
Martin Rawlinson is a stranger in a strange land, an Englishman in Trinidad, and he is relishing it. He has asked for his temporary consultancy position with the Trinidad police to be made permanent, and is hoping to start a new life with the beautiful Safiya, and perhaps grow to understand this intoxicating, troubled country. His only problem is breaking the news to his wife, Miriam, and daughter, Georgia. While Martin has found a new life in the Caribbean, Miriam counts down the months to his return, aware of, but not understanding, the growing distance between them. She and Georgia escape the English winter to visit Martin, and - Miriam hopes - to reclaim him. The week that follows will change everything, but not in the way any of them planned: they will learn how close paradise is to hell. A mesmerising, claustrophobic novel that illustrates how fragile the ties that bind can be, Amanda Smyth immerses us in a moral dilemma with no answer - how can you forgive yourself for compromising what you love most?

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (11 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846688132
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846688133
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 703,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A Kind of Eden is plotted like a thriller and reads like literature of the highest quality. Amanda Smyth shows how easy it is for a white foreign man to get lost in a small intensely mixed society, a society men like him once had a hand in creating. Every page in this novel feels eerie and uncomfortable it touches on difficult truths about love, sex and crime in the twenty-first century Caribbean.' --Monique Roffey, author of White Woman on a Green Bicycle

'Smyth takes you so evocatively under the skin of the place, evoking the sights and smells so you can feel them on your skin. Beautiful' --Kate Saunders, The Times

'Smyth is excellent on Trinidad's underbelly of casual violence, and she uses it to good effect here' --Sunday Herald

Book Description

A Kind of Eden. A sort of hell.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Sarah H
Format:Paperback
Having visited the island of Tobago (where the main incident in this novel takes place) several times, I was keen to read this book and Amanda Smyth's vivid descriptions of both Trinidad and Tobago did not disappoint. However, there is so much more to this novel than just a conventional thriller set in a beautiful tropical location, such as you might find in the BBC's Death in Paradise. As well as being about a clash of cultures, this book is also about a family crumbling apart after the death of a child and the husband's mid life crisis affair. I liked the way the main character Martin was not on paper a particularly nice man and had plenty of flaws, but you were still on his side throughout the book and sympathised with his anguish and dilemmas. You could also feel his complete frustration with the ineptitude and lack of professionalism of the local police, and Smyth brilliantly peppers the novel with these aggravating culture clashes.

Without recounting the whole story, suffice to say that Smyth is terrific at portraying family dynamics in a thoroughly realistic and empathetic way. The dialogue flows naturally and at no point do you think that these are not real people speaking. This also goes for her portrayal of the local people - I could picture them and hear them speak so clearly. Smyth has the advantage here of coming from Trinidad and having visited many times, and she has an ear for colloquial nuance and tone in the language.

This is a nerve wracking and sometimes frightening read. The sinister suspense and small disturbing details build up when the family relocates to a luxury villa in Tobago and it becomes a real page turner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Novel 6 Aug 2013
By ACB(swansea) TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Martin Rawlinson, a 49 year old Englishman, has thrown his lot in with the Trinidad police for money, almost a mercenary. After two years his work ethics erode, conforming with the life and culture of the Caribbean style. This is typified by his involvement with a local girl, Safiya , who he has fallen in love with.

In Tobago, his wife, Miriam and their 14 year old daughter, Georgia, arrive and await him. Martin's life turns into a sick and perilous position. News of his family and the warmth of his Trinidadian position are incompatible. What follows is a tale of tragedy and a life ruined by Martin's lifestyle decisions. The sense of location and fragmented lives are brilliantly portrayed by Amanda Smyth, an Irish-Trinidadian. The finale follows on seamlessly from the earlier narrative. A wonderful and beautiful read that kindles all the senses of the settings, both human and scenic.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was gripped by A Kind of Eden. It has all the pace and menace of a first-class thriller but it's also beautifully written. I thought the characters and their fractured relationships were really compelling. Some of the descriptions - for example Martin's cool assessment of his wife's ageing skin - will stay with me for a long time. This is a great read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 8 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Amanda Smyth writes beautifully and evocatively. This was the second of her novels I've read and I found it a real peg turner. Well crafted in every way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book. 30 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback
I am not going to summarise the content of this book as I see that many people have done this already. I am simply going to urge you to read it. From the first page you are filled with an overwhelming sense of nervousness, the edge that Amanda brings as an undercurrent to even beautiful events in the characters lives, compels you to read quickly - you know that this is not an ideal place or situation for any of them. You MUST read it to appreciate how skilfully she has put this book together.
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