Death stalked the Vale. In every corner, every whisper. They just didn’t know it yet.
Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.
In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.
There’s just one problem.
Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.
The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.
(I listened to the audio book by Audible, narrated by Michele Moran, which was really great)
Olive Collins was found, three months after she had died. Set in a closed community living in Withered Vale, there are six families who hides their very own secrets. Police starts investigations on how the death of Olive occurred. It brings out a difficult time for all of the neighbours, which in the end, makes all of them reveal their hidden, dirty secrets.
Olive Collins have been in one way or the other, interfering in the lives of each of her neighbours and creating unpleasantness among them. So i felt that most of them were glad in the end, that she was no longer alive to bring them more trouble, to their lives.
At the beginning of the book, you really do not get, the whole idea of what Olive is up to. You feel sad for her for living alone and suddenly found dead in her own house. But once you start reading the story, when each member of these households starts to reveal their own circumstances, we understand the real character of Olive Collins.
Jo Spain has done a great job, in creating the setting, characters and the plot. Her unique and careful writing style reveals all these hidden secrets of each family in a methodical manner, that would not confuse the reader. It creates a sense of wanting to know more about what will happen next. Definitely arouses the curiosity of the readers. I pretty much enjoyed the last chapter, where Olive speaks on how she died. The characters in the story does not find the exact answer for this question, but the reader finds the answer. In the end I felt, that Olive got what she deserved.
4/5 Stars – Exceptional
Hope you enjoyed my review. Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
When the yuletide breeze wraps around his skeletal body
But drawn on his withered face
A smile so innocent – and all sweet
As if fallen into a nostalgic reverie
Of the past, the love, the music of his life
Now engraved in the fiddle and pegs of tears
Amidst the congested traffic din
And the muffled voices of the street horde
Receding into the eventide
Is a plaintive cry of a soul,
Scratched upon a forlorn tune
When I first read this poem, I tried to imagine an old man seated on the side of the street, playing a violin. It was such an amazing poem, beautifully written with the perfect use of language. I felt that the poet carries true talent and I reached her via Instagram. We had a few chats and I felt that the world should know about the talents that she posses within her. I decided to do an interview with her, which she happily agreed. She is Piyumi Bhagya from Kuliyapitya, Sri Lanka. So, here we are and let’s dive in;
Q : How would you describe yourself? And tell us about your family?
A : I’m Piyumi Bhagya Nawarathna and I’m 21, currently studying as an undergraduate at the University of Kelaniya. My hometown is Kuliyapitiya and at present I live with my parents as my brother recently migrated for studies. Well, if I talked about myself a bit, I consider myself to be a quiet, simple person. I’m not much of a socialized person and I spend most of the time living in an imaginary world of mine. Apart from writing and reading, I’m a passionate music lover and also a lover of nature. I do drawing and capture the beauty of nature when I’m bored and love the art of gastronomy as well. I guess I was born with art.
Q : How and When did you start writing? What Inspired you?
A : I guess writing has been coming down through all the generations of my family. I was inspired a lot by my maternal grandmother, who was an unpublished hidden writer, who had even translated the whole book of Jane Eyre into Sinhala. With every moment of her life, poetry unleased. Unfortunately she passed away nearly two years back and I still have those papers where she’d scribbled verses of poetry.
Then I should thank my dear mother, for if it wasn’t for her inspiration, I’d never be here today. She is an amazing poet and a wonderful story teller herself. I remember my school days when she used to feed me while narrating a story. I’d never open my mouth unless she starts narrating a story. I remember the times she used to narrate all sorts of magical stories at night when I slept beside her. Somedays when she was too tired to finish the story, she would stop right at the climax and ask me to imagine what would happen next. So I spent the whole night dreaming of all sorts of endings and I hope that imagination and curiosity laid the first foundation of my creative writing.
Then I began to write down the stories my mother told me and later began to fabricate my own tales. I remember I compiled my first book of stories using A4 papers when I was in Grade 2 and then wrote several stories, drawing my own pictures. I was too small then and my grammar was not too good. I started to read and fell in love with all the books that my father bought. It all began with the Famous Five series and now I have my own mini library at home.
I started doing poetry as well, when I was in my secondary classes. I should also remind one special person of my life, Mrs. Mangalika Fernando, my English teacher since Grade 2 and my biggest inspiration. If she wasn’t there, I know I can never come up to this standard. She laid the foundation for my English knowledge. By Grade 4, I was capable of knowing all the English grammar tenses. She was the person who taught us to refer a dictionary since Grade 3. We had to carry that heavy dictionary to school almost everyday. She brought out my true self and praised me among every one else. She loved my creative essays the most and motivated me. I’ll never forget how she guided me as a light to this path.
Q : What does poetry mean to you?
A : Poetry for me is like unleashing out the emotions and feelings out of one’s soul. The things people cannot say directly comes in the form of poetry and enraptures the heart of the readers. The ecstasy I feel after composing one proper poem, cannot be turned into words. Poetry gives flight to your imagination and wings to your mind. It can carry you anywhere even above the clouds and make your heart lighter. A lover of poetry becomes a lover of nature as well. Every moment, every movement is an inexpressible joy for a nature poet. It’s only a poet who sees the beauty of the things around you in an extra special way.
Q : Tell me about the Children’s Novel you wrote few years back?
A : My very first book ‘Blossom in Summer’ came out in 2015 as a children’s novel. It was the time I was so much in love with Enid Blyton’s books and I wanted to write my story in the Blyton style. Hence, the setting is an English background. The story revolves around the summer vacation of the five sisters – Berta, Belinda, the twins Bessy and Becky, and Briada the youngest. This marked a turning point in my writing career along with both the positive and negative remarks that I received, which inspired me immensely to develop myself further.
Q : What does it mean for you, to become a successful writer?
A : Being a well known writer, loved by everybody is my dream. Since my childhood days when somebody asked me what would I like to become, I would say ‘I want to be a writer’, without a second thought. I hope to improve my creative writing abilities further and reach my goal. I dream about the feeling of seeing my own books on shelves of bookstores one day. It’s not to be the best writer, but to be the most loved writer of all.
Q : What are your plans for the future? Do you have any idea of doing a poetry collection?
A : I’m working on a novel these days, completely different from my first novel, as I’ve detached from the English background and added Sri Lankan flavour to my story. I guess it will be a different one, one which will get familiar to your life and one that you will all love. I do hope of doing a poetry collection in future including about thirty poems. I’m working hard on them and once they are done, I’ll do a compilation of my poetry works. Further, I hope to write more stories for children in future, which will help them to delve into the magical beauty and buoyancy of childhood.
Q : How can we read and access your work?
A : It was recently I opened up my first and newest Facebook page ‘A Vintage Poet’ where all my creative works are uploaded, including poetry, free verses and inspirational quotes. I hope to start out a website as well and will soon inform once its done. You can find me on; Facebook & Instagram
Q : Before we wrap up the interview, anything that you have to say?
A : Special thanks goes to Hasanthi, of Hasanthi’s Book Blog – one of the coolest, most motivating people I’ve met, for sparing her time in conducting my first blog interview. Also, to my beloved parents, for being my forever shadow, my inspiration and the foundation behind my success.
It was really a wonderful experience in having this little chat with the beautiful and talented, young author, Piyumi Bhagya. She is such a humble soul that has a big heart. I am very sure that she would definitely become a leading poet and an author in Sri Lanka. Wishing her all the success in all her future endeavors.
Do not forget to follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
That’s all for today folks. I hope you enjoyed this post. You are most welcome to leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments below. Until the next post stay safe!!
Few days back, I completed another audio book, which definitely a five star read.
It is wonderful to see the author and the narrator both are Ingrid Persaud herself. Such a lovely book, so let’s just dive in.
Meet the Ramdin-Chetan family: forged through loneliness, broken by secrets, saved by love.
Irrepressible Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their marvellous lodger, Mr Chetan, form an unconventional household, happy in their differences, as they build a home together. Home: the place where your navel string is buried, keeping these three safe from an increasingly dangerous world. Happy and loving they are, until the night when a glass of rum, a heart to heart and a terrible truth explodes the family unit, driving them apart.
Brave and brilliant, steeped in affection, Love After Love asks us to consider what happens at the very brink of human forgiveness, and offers hope to anyone who has loved and lost and has yet to find their way back.
The book was way different than what we get to read normally. That is why I called it as a five star read. There are three important characters in the story, namely Betty Ramdin, Her son Solo and their lodger Mr. Chetan. Each chapter of the book is devoted to these three characters.
Betty is a woman with one son, Solo. She had an abusive husband, and even though her husband is long dead, the past still haunts her. Betty’s only concern is her son. We see at the beginning of the novel, Solo is very shy and does not wish to interact with people much. Betty being young (at the beginning of the story), is suffering from loneliness. She gets involved in a few relationships, but they do not work out to her liking.
Enters Mr. Chetan to story and he becomes a lodger in the Ramdin household. But soon, we find out that he becomes a part of the family. He loves Solo like his own son, and they creates a deeper bond. (just like father and son) He falls in love with Betty but he tells her that he is gay. Understanding among them is very deep and with all these mismatches, they live a happy life, like a family.
Like any other family, they come into arguments, disputes and misunderstandings. With each of these having their own life to live, they go through rough patches in life. Finding love, heart-break, but with a lot going on, yet they stand for each other. Fate brings Mr. Chetan’s life to an end, which is the most difficult part to read. As readers, we feel the loss and the heartache of Betty and Solo.
The book is just amazing, and you are being carried out into Trinidad, into the Ramdin- Chetan household. You become a part of that life. I just love how she speaks about cooking and food. Some controversial ideas has been brought out by the book, in a simple manner. The topic – Love after Love very well suits the story. We see how the characters find one love after the death of another. No character is left alone.
A lovely read with a deeper meaning, controversial ideas brought up in a subtle way. Highly recommend it. If you are listening to the audio book, Ingrid narrates it in a wonderful way. Great work from the author.
5/5 (Stars) Tremendous, I like it very much
That is for today folks. Do not forget to leave your thoughts and ideas on the comments below. Subscribe to my blog, to read more reviews.