Roma Tearne‘s latest novel, The Last Pier, to be published in April 2015, was inspired by a chance discovery in a Pontremoli bookshop, which led her to investigate the tragic sinking of the Arandora Star in July 1940. On board the Arandora Star were 17 men from the Pontremoli area, interred by the British Government during World War II. The unmarked ship was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland and more than 800 men were lost, including Italian and German internees and British naval and military personnel.
While The Last Pier is a work of fiction set in Suffolk, Roma’s research included meeting with Serena Balestracci, author of Dall’oblio alla memoria – From Oblivion to Memory, whose family comes from Grondola, the village that suffered loss as well as survival in the tragedy. Roma sought out the Mayor of Liverpool and relatives of the victims of this wartime mistake to better understand the personal and emotional impact of the tragedy. She was incredibly moved by the story told to her by a gentleman in Bratto, who spoke of his bewilderment as a small boy growing up in wartime England. It is these stories that are woven into The Last Pier.
The Last Pier can be pre-ordered from Amazon and other online bookshops.
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 in June 2012 to coincide with the premier of her film of that name at the National Gallery in London. The Road to Urbino is partially set in Lunigiana. 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. She lives & works in Oxford.
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Roma Tearne’s latest novel inspired by Pontremoli book find appeared on Ciao Lunigiana on 19 January 2014.