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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and tender new novel
I bought this book because I already knew and loved the author's work as a painter, and was curious to see what her fiction would be like. I was not disappointed. The artist is evident in the way that Roma Tearne's writing evokes a sense of place, making you feel that you have visited Sri Lanka yourself. You feel the heat, hear sound of the sea and monsoon rain and sense...
Published on 12 Mar 2007 by A. Grant

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful topic
I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did. It has all the elements of a good story - a poignant love story with the sort of love that survives against all the odds, suspense, action, excitement, beautiful descriptions....but for some reason it failed to engage me fully. I can't quite put my finger on why this was so. I think I partly felt...
Published on 31 Jan 2012 by Debs


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and tender new novel, 12 Mar 2007
By 
A. Grant (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mosquito (Hardcover)
I bought this book because I already knew and loved the author's work as a painter, and was curious to see what her fiction would be like. I was not disappointed. The artist is evident in the way that Roma Tearne's writing evokes a sense of place, making you feel that you have visited Sri Lanka yourself. You feel the heat, hear sound of the sea and monsoon rain and sense and smell the fruits and flowers. However, what was new and exiting for me was the strength of the narrative. The book skillfully interweaves tender and beautiful love stories through a powerful telling of the desperate and senseless violence and human exploitation that is civil war. The book does not shrink from showing us the horror of bombings and torture, but at no time are the descriptions merely there to shock: she knows exactly when to stop and when less is more. Ultimately though, Mosquito is a story that inspires hope, achieved through moving and unsentimental stories of love: the hero Theo's love for Anna his dead wife and for the young Sri Lankan girl Nulani, the love of the housekeeper for Theo and Nulani, and the love between Theo's oldest friends, whose relationship is tested to the core by the dark events of the civil war. I couldn't put it down, and thoroughly recommend it.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A teardrop in the ocean, 13 Mar 2007
This review is from: Mosquito (Hardcover)
The blurb on the back says Roma Tearne is an artist. I might have guessed, because this book is an assault on the senses - the thin whine of swarming mosquitoes, night flowers blooming in ghostly clusters, smells of coconut and linseed oil, of hot steam and rainy morning breakfast. Tearne has the deftest way of capturing an image and giving it her own wry twist:

'It was a useless house really, everything was broken or badly mended, everything was covered in fine sea sand, caked in old sweat and unhappiness.'

So what is Mosquito about? It's a love story and it's set in Sri Lanka. A middle-aged English writer falls for a local girl, who flits in and out of his life in much the same way as the iridescent butterflies. He can't quite keep a hold of her. And then there is the rival - a boy of her own age with a complicated past. For Sri Lanka is a complicated country, torn by war and the scars of that war. Tearne is a story teller - she's not out to make political points - but the war does intrude, it brings menace and bitterness and ultimately, violence.

Tearne's writing is so achingly vivid, it's hard to believe that she left Sri Lanka when she was only ten years old. It's equally hard to believe this is her first novel. It was a joy to read - and I hope she's writing another.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why you should read Mosquito by Roma Tearne, 19 Mar 2007
This review is from: Mosquito (Paperback)
This is a truly remarkable first novel. In it Roma Tearne has managed

to combine a fast moving and exciting story with the most splendid

evocation of tropical Sri Lanka in the context of a war which is as

relevant today as it was several years ago. The story powerfully

gripping, and few people will be able to put it down once they begin

it. The narrative builds slowly and lyrically at first but then

starts to move along with and almost vertiginous speed producing

surprising and arresting twists and turns. The story is set mainly in

the author's native Sri Lanka, with its dense, wet forests, its long

open beaches, its turquoise seas and its vividly coloured plants. The

characters pass their life in what should be an Edenic world but the

shadow of war falls across the land as it falls, too, across the

lives of the characters. Without warning this fertile and burgeoning

world is split open and the exotic idyll is disturbed in the most

violent and unexpected way. The conflict is, of course, the same one

which breeds death and destruction in Sri Lanka today, the civil war

which broke out between the Tamils and the Singhalese after the

withdrawal of British rule in 1945. According to the book jacket it

was this struggle which forced author's parents to flee the island in

the 1960s, and the incidents have clearly made an indelible

impression on the child's imagination.

The dominant impression of reading this book involves light and

colour, of shade, of dark and of half-light. For many years Roma

Tearne has been a painter and her sensitivity to the subtle nuances

of colour makes itself felt on every page. It was this aspect of the

writing which is most impressive. Roma Tearne's command of language

is economic, flexible and vivid. This is not a book that that has

been written in haste. Every sentence has been weighed not just for

its sense, but for its rhythm, its stresses and for the nuance of

each word that goes to make it up. The pleasures for the reader of

'Mosquito' are enormous and though the ending moved me to tears, I

still did not want the story to end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "We are not normal. We can not speak in normal voices ever again. Even if the peace comes.", 15 Sep 2008
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mosquito (Paperback)
Theo Saramajeeva, a successful writer and film-maker in London, has returned to his native country, Sri Lanka, seeking solace in his spiritual "home" following the traumatic death of his Italian wife. The civil war is on, and Sinhalese government soldiers patrol the roads and beaches. Though Theo, a Sinhalese, sees much evil in his own people and much good in the enemy Tamils, he does not fear violence to himself--he believes that reason can triumph, given a chance. In a separate plot line, Vikram, a Tamil boy soldier-killer, is adopted by a Sinhalese at age twelve and provided with schooling and a better life, but his guardian is gone for years at a time, leaving Vikram virtually on his own. Remembering the terrible deaths of his family, he soon finds his own spiritual "home," once again, among the Tamils--both the separatists and those who want more than a separate state--Tamil domination of the entire country.

Nulani Mendis, a seventeen-year-old Sinhalese with a brutally violent uncle, a high-ranking government soldier, has been mute after watching her father burned to death. She has a fine talent as an artist, however, and when she meets Theo, who is twenty-eight years older than she, she begins to reenter the world again as she sets out to paint his portrait. Gradually, and carefully, they fall in love. Vikram, the prowling Tamil spy, now sixteen, is also in love with her.

When the war explodes in the countryside where these characters live, the Sinhalese, their associates, and friends find that they can no longer recognize the world as human. Though they know that "Living has always been a desperate business," many have found "art as our highest form of hope," but now relocation, imprisonment, torture, murder, and slow death become the norm, and there is no hope, other than escape, physical or emotional. Unconscionable violence alternates with scenes of exquisite love and the serenity of nature, leading to a fast-paced, suspenseful novel in which hope can never be completely extinguished.

Roma Tearne, who grew up in Sri Lanka, crafts a powerful novel, combining the horrifying violence and brutality of brainwashed boy soldiers and opportunistic power seekers with the sometimes lyrical portrayal of nature and the enduring power of love. Now a painter and film-maker in London, as well as a gifted writer, Tearne makes the fraught atmosphere come alive through almost tactile sense impressions, adding depth to this portrait of Sri Lanka, even as she uses the mosquito symbol to show that beauty, when it can be found, always comes with a price. n Mary Whipple

Bone China
Heaven's Edge, Romesh Gunesekera's mystical story of Sri Lankan violence
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful topic, 31 Jan 2012
By 
Debs "Little Chef" (London UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Mosquito (Paperback)
I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did. It has all the elements of a good story - a poignant love story with the sort of love that survives against all the odds, suspense, action, excitement, beautiful descriptions....but for some reason it failed to engage me fully. I can't quite put my finger on why this was so. I think I partly felt uncomfortable with the elements of the love story - firstly there was the enormous age difference between the two and secondly Nulani is portrayed as having met the love of her life, the one that she cannot exist without, the all-consuming love that can never be found again, when she is only 16 and a naive, inexperienced 16 at that. I think the cynic in me (and the teacher in me who teaches pupils of this age group) wondered if a girl of Nulani's age and inexperience could formulate a love of this depth. Perhaps I am wrong, but for me it didn't quite ring true. And it was the same with the male protagonist, Theo. Theo never quite tells us what it is about Nulani that he loves; we certainly feel that she brings out the best of him especially after the tragedy of his wife's death and he definitely wants to protect her and make her happy, and there are hints that she reminds him of his dead wife, but we never know what it is about Nulani that draws him so strongly. Again, my resident cynical nature wondered if a man more than double her age and vastly more experienced and worldly, would love a teenager in this way. Perhaps these incongruities are what tainted my enjoyment of the novel.

Having said that, however, I must confess that the writing style was beautifully evocative. One can almost feel the mosquito-ridden humidity of the Sri Lankan countryside, and little details such as the foods that the people ate, made it all come alive with startling clarity. Even more striking was the horror of what people will do to each other simply for being of a different religion or speaking a different language. If nothing else, this books gives an insight into the turmoil that Sri Lanka endured and this is something that the world should know of.

In short, I did enjoy this and it had a lot to offer, but the love story did not quite ring true for me. However, it still deserves to be read and I did not regret my time spent with the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, 30 July 2013
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This review is from: Mosquito (Paperback)
A beautifully written book which captures the troubles in Sri Lanka. A very powerful and moving love story. I will pass it on to my friends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story painted with words, 28 Aug 2011
By 
G. A. Graham "gina graham" (Tadley, Hants United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mosquito (Paperback)
Roma Tearne immerses the reader in her story of true unconditional love set against the horrors of civil war in the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. When a writer returns to his homeland after the death of his wife, he is seeking solace and peace of mind. He is unprepared for romance that shimmers between himself and a young artist who lives locally. Their relationship endures midst the endemic suspicion, hatred and subsequent violence lurking in the shadows of dark tropical nights. Roma Tearne's writing is a beautiful painting of words full of brushstrokes of colour which touch the heart and mind of the reader. This is the loveliest book I have read for a long time and one I will keep to reread.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Violent Beauty, 9 April 2014
This review is from: Mosquito (Paperback)
A first novel by a painter about a writer, Mosquito is the story of a Sri Lankan author living in London who returns to his war-torn homeland after realising he no longer has anything left to escape. The wonder of the Sri Lankan landscape is described in clear, exuberant prose as Theo rediscovers his homeland and slowly falls in love with the people and places around him and with Nulani, the beautiful local girl who slips unexpectedly into his life and becomes the hope to whom he pins his future. In the background of their tender love affair the country slides slowly into a spiral of increasing violence, until finally the war breaks into their lives and shatters the world they have begun to build together.

Nulani is a promising painter and the writing about art and light and colour in describing her work is gorgeous, as perhaps one might expect from a visual artist. It's also true that Tearne doesn't flinch away in her descriptions of violence and brutality and she can write sentences of of memorable beauty about the ugly consequences of war. Theo's rival for Nulani's attentions is a former child soldier, recruited by the Tamils as a potential terrorist and groomed by his manipulative handler Gerard whose only political ambitions are for himself. The harsh paranoid realities of living in a country where nobody can be fully trusted and nowhere is completely safe are filtered through the experiences of Theo's closest friends, a couple living in Columbo, who try to help Nulani make her way in the world as an artist.

A compelling and intriguing novel, although the female characters are perhaps a little slight? And probably not for the faint-hearted; when paradise is lost there are passages which are very dark indeed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brillant read, 20 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Mosquito (Kindle Edition)
Such a gripping story of love and courage, the descriptions of characters and location are just brilliant. To be recommened.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 20 Jan 2014
By 
K. Cory-Wright (Ecuador) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mosquito (Kindle Edition)
In this novel by Roma Thearne, the protagonist, Theo Samarajeeva, leaves his comfortable writer's life in London and returns to Sri Lanka, his war-torn homeland. So far, so good. But the plot falls down with the unlikely pairing of Theo and his young sweetheart Nulani, a teenage artist. Somehow I simply could not take on board that their love "blossoms" after such a short space of time, and their age gap never really convinced me (probably because he kept calling her "the girl", rather than Nulani, which drove me crazy!) The civil war forces Theo and Nulani apart, before they have really developed a relationship, yet we are supposed to believe that he is ready to follow her around the world in search of her. There were far too many unlikely coincidences and numerous inconsistencies along the way. Unlike "Road to Urbino", which I found tender and passionate, I was barely moved by this story. Disappointing.
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