Monday 16 April 2018

Blog Tour ~ Things Bright and Beautiful by Anbara Salam

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the Things Bright and Beautiful Blog Tour

Fig Tree
5 April 2018

My thanks to the publishers for the invitation to be part of this blog tour and also for my copy of the book

What's it all about..

Bea Hanlon has moved to a remote island in the Pacific with her husband Max, a devout missionary. The island is a place beyond the reaches of even her most fitful imaginings. 

It’s not just the rats and the hordes of mosquitos and the weevils in the powdered milk. Past the confines of their stuffy little house, amidst the damp and the sweltering heat, are the stirrings of much darker forces. Rumours are spreading of devil-chasers, who roam the island on the hunt for evil spirits. Bea gradually adapts to this strange new life until the previous missionary emerges unexpectedly from the jungle, and the island suddenly starts to turn against them all. Before long, trapped in the growing fever of her husband’s insanity, Bea finds herself fighting for her freedom, and for her life.

My thoughts about it...

Things Bright and Beautiful is set in the New Hebrides on a remote island in the South Pacific, where the missionary, Max Hanlon and his wife, Bea set about trying to convert the islanders to Christianity. That the islanders have their own customs and taboos is very obvious from the start and in trying to become accustomed to island life, both Max and Bea experience their own very different problems. 

The claustrophobic atmosphere of the island, and the oppressive nature of living in a place where the very air you breathe teems with verminous life, sets the scene for this unusual story, which looks at the power of superstition and the irresistible lure of insanity. 

Although the story is set in the 1950s, there is a timeless quality about it which, regardless of time frame, focuses the attention on the here and now. Max and Bea do their very best to settle into island life but it becomes obvious from the start that these two are very different people and the marital discord in their relationship isn’t going to be resolved easily. The destructive nature of living in such a menacing place and the rat-infested creatures that hide away in dark corners only serves to emphasise the terrifying consequences of living in such an enclosed atmosphere and further isolates, Max and Bea, from the community at large.

The islanders themselves have their own very distinct personalities, their way of life intrigued me and I especially enjoyed reading about Aru and Santra, and of the effect that these two very different people had on both Max and Bea. 

Things Bright and Beautiful is a highly original story with a complexity of narrative which is as fascinating as it is terrifying to behold.

Anbara Salam is half-Palestinian and half-Scottish, and grew up in London. She has a PhD in Theology, specialising in apocalyptic death cults, and is now a research associate at the University of Oxford. She spent six months living on a small South Pacific island, and her experiences there served as the inspiration for this debut novel.

Twitter @anbara_salam #BrightandBeautiful


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