Brixton Beach – Roma Tearne

Brixton Beach is a difficult book to rate. It has a fantastic opening chapter and a powerful, poignant ending, but unfortunately the rest of the book is a bit forgettable.

The book opens with an emotionally charged glimpse at the London tube bombings of 2005 in which 56 people were killed. I wasn’t surprised to see a quote from Chris Cleave on the back of the book (‘Heartfelt and timely’) as the opening chapter was reminiscent of his wonderful book, The Other Hand.

Unfortunately, the plot went downhill very quickly. The second chapter was so quiet in comparison that I was left feeling a bit let down and lost. The setting changed to a quiet Sri Lankan village and followed a young girl as she grew up. The fact that her father was of Tamil descent meant that her family was threatened by violence and so they decided to emigrate to the safety of London. This whole section was OK, but I have read about the difficulties of immigration so many times that I have lost interest. This book didn’t offer any new insights on the situation, despite the fact that Sri Lanka isn’t a country I’ve read about before.

The plot picks up towards the end and you can guess that the story goes full circle, returning to the terrible events on the London tubes. The ending was emotional, but I was disappointed that I’d had to wade through 350 pages of slow moving plot to get there.

On a positive note, the writing was of good quality, so I would be tempted to read another one of her books – I just hope they are more like the first chapter of this one than the middle 12!

Recommended to anyone who loves tales of immigration.


Did you enjoy this book?

Have you read any of her others?

Are you looking forward to the release of her new book, The Swimmer, at the end of April? 

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  1. Ooh, I was thinking about reading this soon but every time I pick it up I end up putting it back down again. I wonder what Jo, Gok et al will make of it this week?

    1. Jackie says:

      Boof, I’ll be interested to see what they make of it too! I don’t think you’ll put it down if you start reading the first page.

  2. Sandy says:

    I do actually like tales of immigration, but like you said, there are so many out there. These stories are going to soon easily fall into the category of murder thriller for me in that they really need to start to set themselves apart from the norm. I’m not sure that I would be compelled to read a book that loses its mojo in all but the beginning and the end!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I agree. I like my books to be original and the problem with reading as many books as we do is that it is increasingly hard to find them. Perhaps people who read less will enjoy this one!

  3. diane says:


    You are a bad influence on me! I just went over to Amazon after reading your thoughts and the reference to (Little Bee, Cleave). Great review

    1. Jackie says:

      diane, Only the first chapter and the last few are like Little Bee. I’m not sure it is worth reading the rest just for those little bits, but I do look forward to seeing what you make of it.

  4. Steph says:

    I really love the cover on this one, and I read a good review of this elsewhere on the blogosphere (though can’t remember where!). I’ve never read a Sri Lankan author, so that certainly appeals to me, though I hate when books drag in the middle!

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, I don’t think that I’ve read a Sri Lankan author before either. Unfortunately the Sri Lankan history was very vague, so I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. Nevermind – you win some you, lose some!

  5. Annabel says:

    I loved this one, but admit I haven’t read a lot of stories about immigrants, so the middle felt fresher to me. I liked her painterly writing, and thought the beginning and end were masterly.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I knew that you loved this, so was hoping that I’d enjoy it too. I agree that she is a fantastic writer – hopefully I’ll find her next one more enjoyable.

  6. I haven’t read this one, and by the sound of it, I haven’t missed much. :)

    Sorry you didn’t like it, but, now I do know to avoid it. Tales of immigration, if done well (am thinking Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao orReluctant Fundamentalist … even, The Islamist – a book that was so good, that it annoyed me to bits – in a good way!) are fascinating stories. If not done well, just leaves me cranky.

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, The Reluctant Fundamentalist was fantastic (haven’t read Wao yet) but that was an original take on it. Books like The Road Home and Brick Lane have done the same as this one before (and better in my opinion) I guess I’ve just read so many that I’m bored of them now.

      1. Haven’t read Road Home, but was less than impressed with Brick Lane.

        1. The Road Home is a fantastic book! I just loved that one – it’s about a Polish man emigrating to England.

          1. Jackie says:

            Boof, I agree – the Road Home was a very good book.

        2. Jackie says:

          anothercookiecrumbles, I listened to Brick Lane and thought it was OK. I thought it might have been a problem with the narration though – perhaps it is just average however you read it.

  7. Beth F says:

    I have so many books on my stack, that I just don’t see me picking this one up soon.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, My stack is stupidly tall too!

  8. Andreea says:

    Thanks for this review Jackie, but I don’t think that the book is my style.

  9. Stujallen says:

    just watch tv book club ,not sure if this one my cup of tea either jackie

    1. Jackie says:

      Stujallen, I’ve just watched the TV Book Club too. It sounded as though my opinions matched Nathaniel’s.

      It also sounded as though Gok had never read a book about immigration before, which could explain his enthusiasm!

  10. Aminah Kanerva says:

    Hello everybody
    I read this book few weeks ago but could not figure out, did she died in the bomb attack or did she survive, could somebody kindly let me know, please.

    1. Jackie says:


      Aminah Kanerva,

      I got the impression that she died, but I have just re-read the ending and it isn’t confirmed either way – all we know is that she is in the train when it blows up. I think it is left open for you to make up your own mind about what happened. Sorry it isn’t neatly tied up!

      1. Aminah Kanerva says:

        No, you are right, I just hate endings like that, when you just don’t know. Will not read another book of hers.
        Thank you so much Jackie, for your time and reply xxxx

        1. Jackie says:

          My pleasure! Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time – I hope you decide to stick around :-)

  11. Sakura says:

    I haven’t read this one, but I really liked her first book Mosquito where the protagonist goes back to to Sri Lanka after thirty years and finds himself in a country he no longer recognises. I’m going to try her second book Bone China before attempting Brixton Beach. I didn’t know she was going to have another book out so thanks for the info!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sakura, It is good to know that you enjoyed her other books. I will give them a try at some point.


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