Tina's first novel, The Good Priest, was described by one reviewer as "one of the most enthralling books that I have read this year. I was uttterly asborbed from beginning to end." (Breakaway Reviewers). Another wrote, "I would place this book in the top three fiction books I have read." (John McLorinan, Goodreads).
Her second novel, Between Two Rivers, -was published by Matador under the Christabel Press imprint in 2022. It is set in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia/Southern Rhodesia) between 1956 and 1976. Zimbabwean author and war correspondent Angus Shaw writes:
"Between Two Rivers is a compelling and captivating read. There is passion, love and violence, a truly commendable read. She has captured an essence of the time with precise and knowledgeable detail. "
The novel follows the lives of three female characters - Jenny, a restless Englishwoman living in Salisbury (now Harare) and trapped in a violent marriage, Beatrice, Jenny's Shona maid, and Morag, a Scottish doctor who moves from the faux idyll of suburban Saisbury to a mission in a wartorn region in eastern Zimbabwe as the country descends into civil war. In the Preface, the unidentified narrator offers the following reflection on the story about to be told:
"Freud saw the human soul as forever torn between the pleasure principle and the death drive - the longing for permanence and security and comfort, and the no less ardent longing for adventure and risk and danger. My story unfolds in that unresolved conflict between peaceful yearning and destructive desire, the inseparability of our dreams and our nightmares. Doesn't the whole of history reveal itself along that jagged edge where the two are locked together in love and war?
I inhabit the vanished bodies where this conflict raged, not as a coloniser nor as an invader but as a survivor and a lover charged with writing their epitaphs. I call them up from their unquiet graves and I offer to be their spirit medium, their borrowed voice, so that their stories might be told.
Is it possible to speak of love without also speaking of hate? Can one feel such depths of sorrow and loss without raging against those who inflicted this mortal anguish on the innocent? Once I would have said no, but now I find myself reflecting on the words of the poet: 'What will survive of us is love.' Who in the end was innocent and who was guilty? Innocence and guilt are clumsy words that fail to do justice to the vulnerability and passion of the people whose stories I recall.
So where to begin? Love and war. The beginning and ending of every story worth telling. I shall begin with both."
Tina was born and grew up in Lusaka, Zambia, and she has lived in Nairobi, Harare and Paris. She left school at 15 and did a secretarial course, following her mother's advice to 'learn to type before you get married, so that if he leaves you you'll be able to support yourself.' (After more than 46 years of marriage to Dave, she hasn't yet had to put that advice to the test). In 1988 Dave and she moved to Bristol from Harare with their four young children, and Tina started a degree in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol three years later - the year her youngest child started school. After completing her PhD she taught with the Open University for several years. She took up a full-time post at the University of Roehampton in 2002, and in August 2020 she resigned in order to focus on writing. She is now Professor Emerita of Catholic Studies and continues in her role as Director of Catherine of Siena College - an online college based at Roehampton offering courses in theology, gender and social justice. Tina has been described as 'a - or perhaps the - leading feminist theologian of her generation', whose work is 'by turns elusive, provocative and illuminating, but always adventurous and never falling into easily predicted patterns.' (Karen Kilby, The Tablet).
Tina is widely published in academic and non-academic books, journals and magazines. Her main research interests are in theology and art, gender and sexuality, and women's rights. After focusing on academic monographs and journal articles for several years, she is now returning to her first creative love - writing fiction as a way of exploring complex ideas through the joys and sorrows of ordinary lives touched by extraordinary events. She says:
One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my bedroom floor, writing stories in a notebook as a way of avoiding the domestic rows going on elsewhere in the house. Fiction has always been for me far more than a form of escapism. It is an entry into other worlds, where the imagination prowls restlessly along the fringes of possibility and thought, until it arrives at that Wittgensteinian silence where language fails and consciousness sinks into mystery.
Tina is a regular contributor to the media, including Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4. After she left her full-time post at Roehampton, Dave and she moved to the wild coastal beauty of Camber Sands where swimming in the sea and walks along the dunes provide solace and opportunities to reflect on these strange and disturbing times.
Tina's academic website is at this link: https://pure.roehampton.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/tina-beattie(4ad43d9f-b42a-43fb-af88-e2b98ec5121e).html/.