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A Kind of Eden Paperback – 11 Jul 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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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: 13.5 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 523,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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)

Praise for Black Rock:

'Brilliant... It was so atmospheric, I had to read it in one sitting

(Lorraine Kelly)

A tremendously compelling novel. The West Indies may look like an advertisement for paradise, but it is only tourists who call it a paradise. Amanda Smyth opens a window onto the problems faced by Trinidad, and combines a knuckle-whitening thriller with a thoughtful meditation on exile, homeland and belonging. Pages of great lyric beauty combine with a deadly accuracy of phrase and observation; Smyth is a gifted writer and we are lucky to have her. (Ian Thomson, author of THE DEAD YARD)

Amanda Smyth is a hugely talented storyteller. In A Kind of Eden, she has written an exquisite novel of fear, loss and acceptance. With Trinidad and Tobago as the setting, the prose is sometimes luscious and exotic; sometimes stark and, almost, unbearably tense. The whole thing ripples with beauty and menace as Smyth draws us deeper into the complex lives of her characters. What begins as the tale of a man in mid-life crisis, ends up packing a shocking and sinister punch. (Mez Packer)

On the very first page the quality of the writing grabbed me, and I spent the whole day reading it with the greatest pleasure. A novel really does have to be the real thing to do that to me, and this is (Diana Athill)

Smyth is excellent on Trinidad's underbelly of casual violence, and she uses it to good effect here, refreshing an old tale of a middle-aged man leaving his wife and child for a younger, more attractive woman, and turning it very quickly into something else: a revenge tale for a father whose daughter is hurt. (Lesley McDowell Herald 2013-07-28)

Smyth takes you under the skin of the place, evoking the sights, smells, sounds and colours so that you can feel it on your skin. Beautiful. (Kate Saunders Times 2013-07-20)

Book Description

A Kind of Eden. A sort of hell.

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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By ACB(swansea) TOP 100 REVIEWER on 6 Aug. 2013
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
The idea of Trinidad and Tobago may conjure up visions of clear blue sea, white sandy beaches and palm trees swaying gently in the breeze, but Amanda Smyth's 'A Kind of Eden' shows us that life on these islands can be far from paradise.

Martin Rawlinson is a middle-aged ex-policeman, married to Miriam; they have a teenage daughter, Georgia, and are still struggling to cope with the loss of their other daughter, Beth, who died tragically from a cerebral aneurysm. When Martin is made redundant, he and Miriam struggle to pay the large mortgage on their beautiful country farmhouse and they find it increasingly difficult to pay the hefty fees for the exclusive private school attended by Georgia; so when an opening comes up for Martin to work under contract as an advisor to the Trinidadian police force, he and Miriam agree that, in the short time, this job may be the answer to their problems. But is it?

At first, Martin finds it rather difficult to settle in Trinidad, where everything is so different to life back in England, and he misses his wife and daughter; however, after a while, Martin feels a kind of relief at being away from what he refers to as the permanent state of grief that he and Miriam were existing in. And then he meets Safiya, a beautiful young woman in her twenties and falls headlong in love with her and also with the beauty and the exoticness of Trinidad. (No spoilers, we learn all of this, and more, early on in the novel). When Martin finally agrees to allow Miriam and Georgia to come out and visit him, in order to keep his English life separate from his Trinidadian life, he suggests they all stay in an expensive rented villa on the neighbouring island of Tobago.
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Format: Paperback
It is human nature, supposedly, to want to return to the Eden out of which we may have been cast, and in recent years the globe has been criss-crossed by individuals and their families looking for the promised land. In Amanda Smyth's chilling new novel, A Kind of Eden, it is clear from the outset that contemporary Trinidad and Tobago despite - or because of - the blazing sun and luxuriant vegetation is not much of a garden. After all, the central character, Martin, has come from the UK to help improve the Islands' policing, and has had to quick come to terms with an undercurrent of almost casual violence, and shortly afterwards to come to terms with his own personal betrayal of his marriage. That's not quite the story of Eden.

It would be a mistake, however, to see this novel as another repudiation of the Eden myth; few readers will be under any illusion about the difficulty of life in the Caribbean for many of its people. This is a novel not about the causes of social unrest but the journeys of transition demanded of its protagonists. Can a white, middle-aged British policeman sustain a relationship with a younger Caribbean woman? Can the expectational compass of his visiting wife and daughter be reset to accommodate the juxtaposition of beauty and brutality offered by the Islands? Can a Northern European reader - or equivalent - re-think their understanding of good and evil as perhaps simply good fortune and misfortune? For all its easy readability, this is actually a rather demanding book, questioning how we should respond to the original sin of violence.

Amanda Smyth, through her lightly woven prose, ensures that the experiences of her characters play skilfully with our preconceptions and also with our desire for resolution and justice.
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