Shalimar: A Story of Place & Migration by Davina Quinlivan

Shalimar: A Story of Place & Migration by Davina Quinlivan

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Shalimar: A Story of Place & Migration, the wonderful debut novel from author Davina Quinlivan. I’ve read a fair bit on areas such as sense of place over the years and was starting to wonder if there was anything new to offer, so was inordinately happy when I opened the book and delved in to find a story that I really wasn’t expecting.

Shalimar tells the story of the author’s family, their youthful misadventures and their arrival in England during the 1950s.  The dreamlike narrative encapsulates the reader with every page, bringing the story to life as if we are a part of this story too and although the story opens up to the reader, it is overshadowed by family illness and tragedy that ensures the reader not get too carried away.

I did find Shalimar a refreshment change for the rainy season and managed to spirit myself away not only to the suburbs of London but also to the author’s new life in Devon and a tale of early encounters with nature, that often seem alien to the city dweller.

However, Shalimar is by no means a simple memoir, it embraces so much more, from the mango trees of the Buddhist monks in 1940s Burma where the author’s father played and ate to the oppression of the shan women of Northern Thailand, a place where human trafficking is rife and a culture stolen by the Mongols in the fifteenth century, the narrative flows with ease and expertise.

Shalimar is a wonderful and sublime debut novel that embraces nature, history and memoir entwined with ethereal prose that shares a unique bond with the reader, it was hard to put down.

  • Shalimar by Davina Quinlivan is published by Little Toller (£16.00). To order a copy go to
Tom Stanger
Editor at Pilgrim House | Website | + posts

Founder and Editor of Pilgrim House, currently undertaking a research degree at Bangor University and working on a book on Folklore and early Welsh Christianity. Tom’s other work on music, poetry, health along other writings and images can be found at


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