Monday, October 17, 2016

Book Spotlight: The Foot of the Volcano (Extract)

Recently I've been given the opportunity to read The Foot of the Volcano, a lovely debut novel by Deiana Denise Sutherland. This is a work of romantic fiction which explores loyalty, friendship, family, parenthood, and the enduring nature of true love. It's an intriguing story of a young girl named Natalie, who comes of age in the beautiful Caribbean, alongside her best friend Tommy. Her journey takes her through many twists and turns as she grows up, just like real life does for us all. 

Author: Deiana Denise Sutherland

I really enjoyed this book because of its universality and yet the author gives us an interesting insight into the culture and the people of the Caribbean. Natalie and her family deal with real life issues and their share of ups and downs throughout the book. I found this refreshing as a reader and it made me want to continue reading in order to see what happened next. I really enjoyed The Foot of the Volcano! Here's an extract for you to enjoy.

Thirty years have now come and gone since I left Dickson Village. Thirty long years, yet long as it may seem, to me it was as yesterday, for Dickson Village has remained always in my heart.

      The night was cold, yet beautiful. As I walked lazily past the church towards my home, I was overwhelmed by the melodic choruses floating harmonically through the air. The giggles of lovers in the nearby lane blended beautifully with the wind as it whistled its way softly through the trees.

      As I reached the top of the hill overlooking the village, an unwelcome gust of wind sent my scarf flying into the air. My legs melted beneath me as I crumbled to the ground, allowing a sense of loneliness and loss to take its toll on me, for it was on a night as cold, yet beautiful, as this that my life had been turned upside down.

      I was born and grew up with my Mum in Dickson, a small village in St Vincent and the Grenadines, an idyllic volcanic Caribbean island group in the lesser Antilles. Named Hairouna (the land of the blessed) by the native Caribs, St Vincent, like its people, represents warmth and serenity. With a population of about 120,000 people the country covers about 150 square miles and consist of St Vincent, the main island, and a chain of thirty-two smaller Grenadines islands. Discovered by Columbus, St Vincent and The Grenadines gained independence from Britain in 1979, a year remembered also for the last volcanic eruption there.

      Dickson is a place of unspoilt beauty, hidden on the windward side of St Vincent and the Grenadines. With a population of just two hundred people, it was to me an undiscovered paradise. The hills cascaded with lush vegetation as far as the eye could see. Hundreds of coconut trees stood tall over the village, swaying quietly with a mixture of banana and orange trees in the cool evening breeze, as the inviting stream trickled softly through them. The blended aroma of ripening fruits (mangoes, golden apples, plums, bananas, papaya etc) once in season perfumed the air. Sheer tranquillity.

      In the daytime the villagers went about their chores at their own pace in the scorching sun. When it rained the street became deserted, while at night the young and old became one as the streets came alive with music, storytelling, domino playing, church crusades or simply ‘liming’ (Caribbean-style ‘hangingout’), weather permitting of course. It was a village where everyone knew each other and where nothing much ever happened.

      Mum worked at the village shop. Every evening after school I’d play with my friend Tommy until the end of her shift, then we’d all head for home. Sometimes when the shop was empty and her back was turned Tommy and I would sneak in through the side door and help ourselves to handfuls of sweets, which we knew she’d pay for before she finished.

      I had known Tommy Harrison all my life; he was my best friend. He lived across the road from me with his dad, a local man who had previously migrated to England and spent thirty years there. While there he had met and married Tommy‘s mum, a beautiful blue-eyed blonde called Sarah. After his many years in England, Mr Harrison had returned to Dickson with his wife. Tommy was born a year later. Unfortunately his parents separated when he was three years old, and Sarah returned to England, leaving them both behind.

      Although Tommy was two years my senior, we were inseparable. He was tall, with a freckled face and full of life. I lived in his shadow. To me, he was simply the best; we shared secrets and wild, wild dreams. Mum always said that we were living in a world of our own.

      As we grew older we became closer and closer; I was the little sister he had never had. A few of the adults in the village complained, for it was the norm that children should be seen playing with children of the same sex, but our special friendship blossomed; it was different.

      I never knew my father; I was told that he had died in a car crash before my birth. We had no other relatives that I knew of and my mother never remarried. I can recall vaguely, when I was about ten, asking Mum to tell me everything I needed to know about my dad. She hesitated for a moment, rested her hands gently on my shoulder, smiled faintly, then walked away. Although I was ten years old, I can remember feeling a great sense of pity, for it suddenly dawned on me that true love never dies. His memory caused her such great sorrow. Realizing this I quickly followed her into the kitchen, comforted her with a huge hug, then apologized. From that day forth Percy Steinford’s name was consigned to silence.

      As the years went on, not only was she my mum but my closest and dearest friend. Every evening after supper we’d sit in the old shed under the big golden apple tree a few yards from the house and she’d watch in silence as Tommy and I did our homework. The old shed was a very special place to all three of us.

      On my tenth birthday Tommy presented me with a small blue box wrapped carefully in white lace tied neatly into a bow. Excitedly I opened the box and was confronted with a beautiful black wristband bearing the inscription of my name. ‘Oh Tommy, it’s beautiful!’ I cried, admiring it carefully. He smiled and replied, ‘I’m really pleased you like it.’

      I put my hand out and watched in silence as he took the wristband and placed it neatly around my left wrist. His hands trembled as he gazed into my eyes, ‘For you, Natalie Steinford,’ he mumbled, ‘best friends forever.’
  - Extract from The Foot of the Volcano by Deiana Denise Sutherland, published by Mereo Books

The novel is available here , also on Amazon , and at all good bookshops.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.  

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