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The Last Pier by Roma Tearne

The Last Pier

Literary Fiction   Family Drama   eBook Favourites   
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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

The Second World War looms and young, curious Cecily desperately wants to know her 16-year old sister’s secret. But there is a lot more she wants to know too. Why is her mother’s sister, Kitty, always staying on their Suffolk farm? Who is the sinister stranger Robert Wilson? Where does her sister go as she climbs out of her window at night? Then her charred remains are found on the burnt out pier and strangely Cecily feels it is somehow her fault. The poetic narrative flits between past, present and future most effectively. The lyrical prose allows the reader to feel the tension and dismay building up to the approaching war. We also follow an Italian family who own the local ice-cream parlour and their fears of the future. The plot is full of secrets which Cecily tries to uncover with devastating results. Highly recommended.

If you like Roma Tearne you might also like to read books by Janice Y K Lee, Sadie Jones and Andrea Levy.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. A highly accomplished, atmospheric novel set on the Suffolk coast in 1939, this follows young Cecily Maudsley and the terrible events that would forever shape her life and others’. As the stifling summer continues and the threat of war grows ever greater, the Mauds-leys and their local friends the Molinellos prepare for an end-of-season tennis party and dance at the Maudsley home, Palmyra House. Feeling left out of her beautiful older sister Rose’s more grown-up world, Cecily watches and waits, noting comings and goings, overhearing conversations; but despite innocent intent her observations and eavesdropping will have fatal consequences.
~ Karen Howlett

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.  You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Kathryn Whitfield - 'A beautifully written tale of love, war, family secrets and child innocence.'
  • Bev Farningham - 'Great characterisation and the story and events are likened to birdsong, the sky plus moon, stars and sun. Read slowly to really get the feel.'
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'Another 'must-read' story from one of the best author's around – thanks Roma Tearne.'
  • Rachael Anderson - 'A beautifully written tale of sibling rivalry, family secrets and terrible loss.  Incredibly atmospheric.'
  • Josie Barton - 'This is a haunting story of love, loss and family secrets in a world irrevocably changed by the circumstances of war.'
  • Evelyn Love- Gajardo - 'This is a beautifully written novel set in the last days before the outbreak of World War Two.'
  • Angela O'Donovan - 'This movingly told story captured my heart and mind, kept me up into the early hours and drew me as though I was there through summer 1939.'
  • Sarah Jones - 'Slightly disappointing as it wasn't what I expected, but overall well written and a good read.'
  • Jane Ashbrook - 'Well-written and atmospheric, this unusual love story unfolds into a compelling tragic drama...I loved the styled of Roma Tearne's writing and will seek out her other novels.'
  • Lorraine Blencoe - 'This book oozes the heat of the summer of 1939 out of every page. From start to finish the reader can smell and feel each experience, it is that atmospheric.'
  • Doreen McKeown - 'I thought the writing style was an odd mixture - it was positively lyrical in parts, which I admired, but strange in other parts.
  • Annette Woolfson - 'Her eye for meticulous detail, her lyrical writing and the story’s twists and turns left me unsettled. This story will stay with me for a long time.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'Gripping, emotional and impossible to put down.'
  • Jane Macleod - 'The book is detailed and complex at times, but the attention to detail in developing Cecily’s character really make the reader part of the tension of family life, relationships and tragedy.'
  • Kath Martin - 'At last a beautifully crafted book with some of the most exquisite prose.  A gripping story with lots of intricacies - but not one to rush.'
  • Lynda DeFreitas - 'An intriguing tale written in an elegant style and told in flashbacks to the period just before the start of WW2, and also in the present.'
  • Sharon Butler - 'An interesting read told from the perspective of the past and the present. Cecily returns to her family home endeavouring to find answers to a fateful summer in 1939, before the outbreak of WW2.'


The Last Pier by Roma Tearne

How deep the summer had bitten into the land that last August, how cruelly it had burnt into earth and grass and air. What had started out as a pastel and water-faded spring turning so unexpectedly into a splintering, shimmering thing.

All that had been required was a spark to cause a fire. Why had no one noticed? The summer of 1939 broke the Maudsley family. Cecily was only thirteen years-old and desperate to grow up; desperate to be as beautiful and desired and reckless as her older sister Rose. Now, in her forties, the family resemblance is uncanny but Cecily is a shadow of her former self. A part of her died that fateful summer.Returning to the deserted family farm as an adult, Cecily recalls the light before the storm, before the war came and before the terrible family tragedy. It was a summer of laughter and icecream, promises and first love. She remembers her father's unrequited love for her, her melancholy mother and her brittle and argumentative aunt Kitty, and how everyone, somehow, was guarding a secret. None more so than the impossibly beautiful Rose. And in her childhood innocence, between snatches of misunderstood conversations, Cecily helps set in motion a chain of devastating events. Wandering through the family home twenty-nine years later, Cecily hopes to lay some ghosts to rest but the past has yet to give up some shocking secrets...



'Tearne charts the patterns of love and loss with beautiful prose
The Sunday Times

'A tender, unconventional love story unfolds, until tragedy intervenes... she has a wonderful ability to create atmosphere'
The Times

'Beautifully atmospheric writing, deeply moving and thought-provoking'
Books Quarterly (Waterstones)

About the Author

Roma Tearne

Roma Tearne is a Sri Lankan born novelist and film maker living in the UK. She left Sri Lanka with her family, at the start of the civil unrest during the 1960s. She trained as a painter & filmmaker at the Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford and then was Leverhulme artist in residence at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Subsequently she was awarded an AHRC Fellowship and worked for three years in museums around Europe on a project accessing narrative within the collections.

She has written six novels. Her fifth, The Road To Urbino was published by Little Brown in June 2012 to coincide with the premier of her film of that name at the National Gallery in London. She has been short-listed for the Costa, the Kirimaya & LA Times book prize and long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2011 and, in 2012, the Asian Man Booker. Her sixth novel, The Last Pier, will be out in April 2015 from Hesperus Press.

Author photo © Alistair Tearne

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Book Info

Publication date

10th April 2015


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Nova an imprint of Hesperus Press Ltd




Literary Fiction
Family Drama
eBook Favourites



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