Listen to the Drums

Listen to the Drums

An African Odyssey... 

Collins English Dictionary defines an Odyssey as 'a long exciting journey on which a lot of things happen.'... Discover what happens to Heather on her long African journey into the unknown. 


Listen to the Drums is set in “Facriwa”  (an anagram of W.Africa)  a fictional West African colony  shortly after the Second World War.  It is a story based on Heather, the young wife of a Colonial Officer, as she learns the ways of Africa, both cruel and heart-warming.   She and her children share in the country’s struggle for independence. Heather is mesmerised by the imposing African Kovina, befriended by Musah a mission gardener, and terrorised by Komfo, the local gun-running witchdoctor.






"An enthralling story of mystery, intrigue and emotion. Beautifully written."  


- Neil Somerville, Writer and Speaker.


"With sights, sounds and atmosphere, Barbara Smith vividly captures the dangers and emotional turmoil of West Africa in 1949. A pleasure to read."   

 - Mary Pooley, Poet


"This is a really enjoyable, interesting and informative story.  You did indeed capture the flavour of West Africa.


   - Loretta Proctor, author of The Middle Watch, The Crimson Bed and The Long Shadow.


“First and foremost novelists are storytellers, and this novel is the work of a gifted storyteller.  It works realistically on several levels. One of the strikingly successful aspects is its spiritual context.  Issues that emerge naturally in the course of the narrative are the conflict between good and evil, the misuse of faith to gain power, and the employment of good and bad magic. I think Listen to the Drums is technically impressive, very convincing, and a compelling read."


                                                                     -  Prof.Geoff Harvey (Retd) Head of English, University of Reading


"A fascinating tale and so well told too. It was a pleasure to read."


- Mike Walker, BBC Radio Four





Apart from Listen to the Drums, I have written two other novels, one of which was published in America in 2004, and a compilation of poems, published in 2003. Several of my short stories have been published in magazines. 

Of Doubtful Loyalty 


Of Doubtful Loyalty is a contemporary romance set in Cornwall.  It follows an emotional period of life for Serena Brown - a middle aged woman who is in what she believed to be a happy marriage. Unexpected repercussions after her husband accidentally knocks down a child, the complex relationships of their children, new neighbours and the local community all make for an intriguing study of love and friendship.




"It is hard to imagine that anyone reading this book would not be held by the story.  The tale races along fuelled by an excellent ear for dialogue.  At the end of the book most people will give it the ultimate accolade:  when is the sequel coming out?"


 -  Charles Howard - Book Review for Writers' Forum


" Those who believe in romance and the strength of family values will enjoy Barbara Olive Smith's deft handling of the loves and mishaps shared by a circle of friends and neighbours living on the Cornish Coast." 


 -  Ann Schlee - Author of Rhine Journey - shortlisted for the Booker Prize.


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Ebb Tide is a collection of 27 poems written over a 15 year period. Most of the poems in the collection have been published elsewhere in books, magazines and anthologies, but I decided to compile them in 2003 as I thought they would be happier under one roof.


The title poem – Ebb Tide, is given here as an example of the content.


I waved goodbye to the ebb tide

and it whispered back to me

as I stood on the cold granite rocks of grey

while it slowly returned to the sea.


I watched the moon lighten its passing

giving silvered edge to the waves

and the ebb-tide sang me a bold song

which haunted me, made me its slave.


I saw the glistening seaweed

dark shadows on glistening sand

as the ebb-tide caressed it gently,

combed it sensuously with its hand.


I heard echoing calls in far off caves

a rock pool’s mournful sighing

some sucking sounds and sad sounds

from watery creatures, dying.


I bade farewell to the ebb-tide

with its everlasting motion

and it filled my heart with deep content

as it answered the call of the ocean.