About the Book
On Yorkshire’s gradually-crumbling mud cliffs sits an Edwardian seaside house. In the bathroom, Jacob and Ella hide from their parents’ passionate arguments by playing the ‘Underwater Breathing’ game – until the day Jacob wakes to find his mother and sister gone.
Years later, the sea’s creeping closer, his father is losing touch with reality and Jacob is trapped in his past. Then, Ella’s sudden reappearance forces him to confront his fractured childhood. As the truth about their parents emerges, it’s clear that Jacob’s time hiding beneath the water is coming to an end.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I was looking forward to reading this book after the The Winter’s Child, the author’s previous book was one of my top reads for 2017. I wasn’t disappointed. Jacob, Ella and Mrs Armitage were characters I enjoyed getting to know.
With narrative from 2008 and ‘now’ the reader sees the two children grow and their houses getting closer to the sea. Ella, aged seven, is petrified at the thought of this happening but her relationship with Jacob and her friendship with Mrs Armitage helped her.
I loved the sections that involved young Ella and Mrs Armitage. The author did a brilliant job of making a seven year old character a convincing one and the conversations she had with her older friend were amusing but poignant and I felt both of them enjoyed their friendship.
Ella’s role in ‘now’ wasn’t as prominent. Much of this concerns Jacob and his relationship with his father whose health is poor. It is a much darker side of the novel, a bit worrying at times and I did prefer the lighter alternative.
One of the most fascinating parts of the novel was the level of acceptance that their homes would be lost to the sea. How it seemed perfectly normal that you could suddenly lose most of your garden and eventually your home and just carry on regardless.
A unique and wonderful read.
About the Book
Five years ago, Susannah Harper’s son Joel went missing without trace. Bereft of her son and then of her husband, Susannah tries to accept that she may never know for certain what has happened to her lost loved ones. She has rebuilt her life around a simple selfless mission: to help others who, like her, must learn to live without hope.
But then, on the last night of Hull Fair, a fortune-teller makes an eerie prediction. She tells her that this Christmas Eve, Joel will finally come back to her.
As her carefully constructed life begins to unravel, Susannah is drawn into a world of psychics and charlatans, half-truths and hauntings, friendships and betrayals, forcing her to confront the buried truths of her family’s past, where nothing and no one are quite as they seem.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
It would be safe to assume that The Winter’s Child is just another missing child/ unreliable narrator/ psychological thriller. But even though the novel does cover some of those things it is completely different to what I expected it to be. It does concern a missing child but the child isn’t a young boy like I imagined him to be, he is a teenager who disappeared after a family row. There is an unreliable narrator but again it is different. Susannah is a difficult character to understand. I wanted to feel sympathy for her. She is vulnerable and suffering without Joel but she appeared to be cold to others, selfish, unapproachable and snobbish. Her attitude to John, Melanie and Jackie was appalling. Especially Jackie, who was one of the characters I really warmed to. The police are minor characters, the focus is mostly on Susannah and how she is coping, or not, without her son.
It’s beautifully written, and quite refreshing to read. It’s a crime novel but it’s approached from a parent’s view rather than an investigation into a disappearance of a messed up teenager. A remarkable novel that will stay in my thought for quite a while.