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In Tearne's beautifully crafted debut, middle-aged novelist Theo Samarajeeva leaves London after the death of his wife and returns to his native Colombo, Sri Lanka, which has been ravaged by the continuing civil war between Tamil separatists and the Sinhalese majority government. In his many novels, Theo, who is Sinhalese, empathizes with the Tamil cause, but he refuses to take any extra precautions for his own safety on returning, despite the danger his books bring. After teenage artist Nulani Mendis, whose father was burnt alive by separatists, continually appears in his garden, where she draws in solitude, Theo commissions her to paint his portrait. As Theo and Nulani's lives become increasingly intertwined, genuine romance begins to unfold, but dangers lurk: a menacing former Tamil child solider, Vikram, has taken a liking to Nulani; meanwhile, Nulani's venomous uncle soon learns of the relationship with Theo. Tearne captures the desperation, fear and hope of love during wartime, showing multiple sides of the human capacity for survival. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.