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Beautiful Place is a novel about leaving and losing home and making family. It is about being oppressed and angry and wanting a better life – but how is a better life to be defined?
The Villa Hibiscus is a house by the sea on the exquisite southern coast of Sri Lanka, home to Padma, a young Sri Lankan woman. The owner of the villa, Gerhardt, is an elderly Austrian architect to whom Padma was taken when young by her scheming father, Sunny, who had hoped to seduce the wealthy new foreigner in the area with his attractive child. Gerhardt adopts Padma and pays Sunny to stay away until she’s grown up – when Gerhardt expects to have sent Padma to university, far away.
But Padma fails her exams and is lonely in the city, gladly returning to her beloved old home by the sea. With Gerhardt’s help she creates a guesthouse at the villa and soon guests start to arrive, opening new vistas for Padma through their friendship and love.
Then Sunny appears, ready to reclaim his daughter...
‘Amanthi Harris has written an engaging novel, incensed at times by the darker shadows that loom on an atmospheric coastal haven.’ —Romesh Gunesekera
‘This emotionally charged debut novel resonates like a deeply felt memory.’ —Grazia
‘Set around the Villa Hibiscus guest house on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, it Beautiful Place features a global cast of characters who are all in some way searching for identity, family and a place to belong. It’s something of a quiet epic, a lengthy novel to relax into, but with a seismic event that forces everyone to reassess their loyalties and what a better life might mean. As the title suggests, Harris has a keen eye for a sense of place, and though the pace is slow, the mood and emotion are compelling.’ —Ben East, Observer
‘A beautiful, affecting, delicately written narrative.’ —Amit Chaudhuri
‘In quiet distilled prose, Amanthi Harris takes a moment of change we all experience and brings it into poignant, evocative focus. Her story resonates like a personal and deeply felt memory.’ —Preti Taneja