The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson

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The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It's the sort of book which guarantees that you'll lose sleep and has characters who stay in the mind long after you've turned the last page.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 554 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1780874968

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Tamia and Scott met at school and they were friends before they were anything else although it wasn't to the liking of either family. Scott's brother referred to Tamia as that - a reference to the colour of her skin. Tamia's family weren't racially prejudiced but they knew the Challey family and their reputation for criminality. It wasn't what they wanted for their daughter: they saw a university education, but were to be disappointed on both counts. It looked to be working well: the marriage seemed stable and they had two beautiful daughters, but then one night it all fell apart. Scott was arrested in front of his wife and children for a dreadful crime. As if this wasn't bad enough, Tami's world disintegrated even further when she discovered that Scott's accuser was someone whom she regarded as a close friend.

Tami makes an instinctive choice about whom she believes and then has to witness the lives of those around her unravelling and their secrets oozing out through the cracks. It's not long before she realises that her life can never be the same and even as she decides that her children must be her priority she finds that she's under suspicion. Worst of all is that she really doesn't know if she's guilty.

I began reading The Rose Petal Beach one evening. In the early hours of the following morning I decided that I really ought to get some sleep. Ten minutes later I put the light back on and read until I couldn't keep my eyes open. It's that sort of story. Dorothy Koomson writes exquisitely, gently leading you into the story and allowing you to like the people she's created. You can't help but go out there and bat for Tami - you might wonder quite why she did certain things and want to persuade her to do otherwise, but she's never less than totally convincing. Scott, Mirabelle and Beatrix all come off the page, helped by the fact that we hear some of the stories from the women themselves, sometimes in flashbacks. Koomson handles them with aplomb.

The story's set in Brighton and it's obvious that Koomson knows it well: it's not tourist Brighton, but a town where people live. You'll smell the sea and feel the sunshine: it's a brilliant backdrop and poignant contrast to all that's going wrong in Tami's life. Koomson understands relationships and her touch as she chronicles their disintegration is exceptional: she's a master of pinpointing that moment - the gesture - the look which changes so much, but which could have gone unnoticed in lesser hands.

I'll confess to not being totally convinced by the ending, but that's probably me as I had an entirely different scenario in mind. It didn't give me an 'Oh, gosh, yes!' moment although looking back it did fit neatly with the facts. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag - I'm sure that I'll catch up on the sleep soon!

For more from Dorothy Koomson we can recommend The Ice Cream Girls.

Buy The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson at

Buy The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson at


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