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Beautiful Place is a novel about leaving and losing home, of finding family and a place to belong, of defining one’s path and choosing a way to live. It is about anger and exploitation; of being a woman, a man, a country objectified, oppressed; of longing for independence and freedom and to find a better life – but how is a better life to be defined?
The Villa Hibiscus is a guesthouse in Tangalle Beach, a (fictional) village on the exquisitely beautiful southern coast of Sri Lanka. Padma, a young Sri Lankan woman has returned from the capital city, Colombo, to create the guesthouse in her old home by the sea. The owner of the house, Gerhardt, is an elderly Austrian architect to whom Padma was taken as a child by her natural father, Sunny, in the hope of seducing the wealthy new foreigner in the area. However Gerhardt adopts Padma legally and pays Sunny to leave her alone until she is twenty-one, by which time, Gerhardt hoped, Padma would have left for University and would be living far away in the city or abroad. However Padma has failed her exams at University and dislikes the city and has no desire to go abroad and instead returns to Tangalle Beach to her cherished home at the villa with her plans to run a guesthouse.