With the 2016 Rio Olympics in full swing, it’s an ideal time to welcome to the blog Rebecca Powell. Rebecca’s debut novel, The Brazilian Husband (women’s contemporary fiction), was published in June 2016 and is available from Amazon in ebook and paperback.
Brazil – the real star of The Brazilian Husband
As Brazil basks in the international spotlight of the Olympic Games, people around the world are starting to realise just how little they know of this vibrant country of contrasts. The fifth largest country in the world, with over 200 native languages spoken among its people, there is so much more to Brazil than Copacabana and carnival.
I knew very little of the country when, as a 21 year-old student, I arrived in Recife. From the age of 14, when I’d seen a photo of a boy digging in a rubbish tip in Rio, it had been my goal to travel to Brazil to work with street children. And so, seven years later, naïve but determined, I walked straight in to the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights and volunteered.
What I discovered was a country and a people so diverse, so vast, so beguiling, that in my year living and working there, I experienced only a fraction of its immensely rich culture.
Things I remember:
• Eating grilled sweet corn from street vendors on my way to work;
• Dancing Forró on the beach as an orange moon rose over the ocean;
• Sleeping under the stars at the Soão João festival in Campina Grande (a major setting in the book)
But as Ricardo, the human rights lawyer in the book says, ‘just because you’re on holiday, doesn’t make this Disneyland.’
Things I’ll never forget:
• Toddlers playing in the open sewers of the favelas;
• Sexually active 14 year-old girls, who didn’t know where babies came from, let alone what a condom was.
• Half-built medical centres in the poorest communities, promised by politicians in return for votes, then left in ruins after the elections;
• The diary entry of one girl, describing how her mother’s boyfriend would come in to her bed at night, and how she thought this was normal.
What I came to realise, after a year living and working in Brazil, was that my being there had made no more than a ripple on a tear in an ocean of suffering. Returning to London I started working for charities in the UK, but the stories I’d heard from the girls I’d worked with continued to haunt me. I needed to tell their stories. This was the motivation behind The Brazilian Husband.
What became clear, as I started to write the book, was, in the same way as the Heath is a character in Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native, so Brazil became a character in itself.
The Brazilian Husband is just one of Brazil’s many stories, which I hope is both accessible and informative (I have deliberately peppered the narrative with fun and frightening facts about the country) and which, as Tom the journalist says in the book, ‘gets people talking, throws a spotlight in to the shadows’, whilst celebrating the eclectic beauty of its cities, beaches, backlands, and people – in equal measures fascinating; devastating; passionate; stunning, and, quite simply, spectacular.
About the book:
“…scrawled in biro, the words which had brought me here…
‘Take me home’.”
Determined to honor her late husband’s final request, Judith and her teenage step-daughter, Rosa, set out on a journey from London to Brazil to track down his family and take his ashes home.
But when Judith’s search leads her to Ricardo, a handsome but haunted human rights lawyer, she begins to unravel a web of lies surrounding her husband’s past: a past which is about to come crashing into their present in the form of Rosa’s real mother.
As the two women navigate their way through this vibrant country of contrasts, they find themselves struggling to salvage their own fractured relationship and put the past behind them.
The perfect blend of romance and suspense, set against the stunning backdrop of northeast Brazil, The Brazilian Husband is a story of friendship, family and finding out who we really are.
About the author:
Rebecca Powell was born in Bristol and has a degree in French and Portuguese from the University of Leeds. In her early twenties she worked for a year at a women’s shelter in the northeast of Brazil, before moving to London, where she continued to work for a number of national charities. She now lives in the southwest of France with her husband and three children.