VINTAGE BOOK REVIEW: Secrets Of The Tides by Hannah Richell

The Blurb (from Goodreads):

Every family has its secrets. Some are small, like telling a white lie or snooping through a private drawer. Others are more serious, like infidelity and betrayal. And some secrets are so terrible they must be hidden away in a deep, dark place, for if they ever came to light, they would surely tear a family apart . . . The Tides are a family full of secrets. Returning to Clifftops, the rambling family house high up on the Dorset coastline, youngest daughter Dora hopes for a fresh start, for herself and the new life she carries. But can long-held secrets ever really be forgiven? And even if you can forgive, can you ever really learn to love again? Secrets of the Tides is a family drama with a dark thread of suspense at its heart.

My Thoughts:

I had been tempted to buy this book for a while, primarily because of its gorgeous cover, which shows two little girls playing on the beach. One is blonde and one is dark, just like my sister and me. I’ve been trying to be stern with myself, though, and not buy any more books until I’ve read my way through some of my tottering to-be-read pile. Of course this was a resolution just made to be broken!

After I met the author Hannah Richelle at a literary event at Pages & Pages bookstore in Mosman, I just had to buy the book, it sounded so good. I’m so glad I did! I loved it.

The book is a parallel narrative, focusing on the Tides family in the present and in the past. The main character is Dora, a young woman in a loving relationship with a sculptor who finds out she is pregnant and is flung into an emotional tailspin wondering if she could possibly be a good mother. Her neurosis is more than just the normal anxiety that overcomes anyone facing such a big change in her life. Dora’s life has been scarred by tragedy and guilt, her own family broken apart by the stresses of the past. Dora sets out to find some closure – and along the way discovers  the truth of what happened on that terrible day so long ago …

The thing I loved most about this book was how beautifully it was structured. Anyone who has studied creative writing with me, or been following my blogs and reviews for a while, will know how much emphasis I place on the importance of structure. Hannah Richell has built her narrative very carefully indeed, and the result is a slow-building suspense that makes the book utterly impossible to put down.

I also thought she showed great insight into the minds of her all her characters, major and minor. In particular, the three women at the heart of the story – Dora and her mother and sister – really rang true. I recognised many of their dilemmas and fears all too well.

All in all, a wonderful book by a new author – I’d really recommend it as a Book Club book as there’s so much in it to talk about!

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Kate Forsyth
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