Thank you to ed public relations and Peepal Tree Press for the opportunity to read and review Fortune by Amanda Smyth.
Eddie Wade has recently returned from the US oilfields. He is determined to sink his own well and make his fortune in the 1920s Trinidad oil-rush. His sights are set on Sonny Chatterjee’s failing cocoa estate, Kushi, where the ground is so full of oil you can put a stick in the ground and see it bubble up.
When a fortuitous meeting with businessman Tito Fernandez brings Eddie the investor he desperately needs, the three men enter into a partnership. A friendship between Tito and Eddie begins that will change their lives forever, not least when the oil starts gushing. But their partnership also brings Eddie into contact with Ada, Tito’s beautiful wife, and as much as they try, they cannot avoid the attraction they feel for each other.
I’ve read many books over the years, especially during the past 18 months, but this is the first time I’ve travelled to Trinidad in the Caribbean. This book is set in the late 1920’s, a decade after the First World War and around the time of the Great Depression in the United States.
Amanda’s writing sets the scene beautifully, bringing the island and the people to life, the heat, the poverty and the changes. The island used to be rich in cocoa and sugar farming, but the new ‘crop’ is oil – needed to fuel cars in the United States.
This is a story about the ‘Oil Rush’, as different groups drilled for oil across the island. Eddie and Tito bump into each other and form a partnership to help find oil on the failing cocoa plantation belonging to Sonny Chatterjee.
Over the year of the story, friendships are formed, drilling begins and the partnership becomes profitable. However danger is constantly present, from unsafe drilling methods and unwise relationships.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story that Amanda Smyth has created, the passions, the danger, the heat and the historical details. Happy to recommend this fascinating historical fiction novel.
Amanda Smyth is Irish Trinidadian, and author of three novels. Her first novel, Black Rock, won the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger, was nominated for an NAACP award, short listed for McKitterick Prize, and selected as an Oprah Winfrey Summer Read. Black Rock was chosen as one of Waterstones New Voices, and translated into five languages. Her second novel, A Kind of Eden, set in contemporary Trinidad, was published in 2013 and optioned as a TV series. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in New Writing, London Magazine, The Times Literary Supplement, Harvard Review and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Fortune, her third novel, is based on the tragic Dome fire in Trinidad,1928. Amanda teaches creative writing at Arvon, Skyros, Greece, and Coventry University. She lives in Leamington Spa with her husband and daughter.