Will a crumbling ancestral house in the Outer Hebrides give up its secrets? 0



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In the literary works that I have read as published in 2016, many cover a span of specified times, perhaps with several locations and with different characters who will  be linked as the story unfolds.

This, I have found to be an interesting genre, but one that can vary in success.

The House Between Tides, by Sarah Maine, does this brilliantly and is a historical novel set in the exotic Outer Hebrides of Scotland where it starts with a vivid scene from 1945. Sarah Maine then takes us to 2010 where we meet Hetty who has just inherited an estate with the crumbling ancestral Muirlan House.

House between Tides, The

Her discovery of bones leaves the author free to pursue all sorts of avenues while unlocking the mystery, drip feeding readers as the story unfolds.

The discovery of the bones buried within its floor is not the only mystery. The author plants a seed in the readers mind as to whose bones they could possibly be.

The mystery involving Scottish folklore builds its suspense while jumping between decades.

The introduction of Theo and Beatrice in 1910 follows their lives through one spring and summer adding a haunting aspect to the whole affair.

I could barely pause to make notes, so captivated was I by the personalities of the dark Theo and the captivating and tolerant Beatrice.

For me, their story of just one spring and summer is just so intriguing. Beatrice is a captivating and so very tolerant personality and so very much at the behest of Theo. There is an ever-present darkness and inscrutable aura around Theo that effects Beatrice as well as the lives of so many people around him.

I have stopped reading to write this much of my review but cannot wait to get back to the book.

Art is an integral thread that is used to follow and depict Theo’s troubled life and a vehicle to highlight the beauty of the island. When Theo’s and Beatrice’s compelling story carries over into 1911 I felt some relief, so entrenched and intrigued was I in the saga that I feared it might end too soon.

Revelations are fed at pertinent intervals until the nexus is revealed, all the while keeping the reader engrossed.

The only weakness I found to be in the character of Hetty. A lady with enough strength and independence to go off on her own (in a modern world), to find out just where and what her inheritance meant. This does not quite mesh with the degree of bullying and takeover tactics of her inheritance from boyfriend Giles and his cronies who Hetty puts up with for way too long.

The ending cannot be foreseen and is perfect. It takes your breath away. The male protagonist is so unexpected but appropriate. This is a superb read and a book that I shall place on my special shelf in my bookcase.

The House between Tides, by Sarah Maine, is available from Dymocks.

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Lorraine Parker

Lorraine taught in the area of Technology and Applied Studies for over 40 years. Her career in education culminated in tertiary education teacher training (Textile Innovation at the Australian Catholic University and Whitehouse School of Fashion), followed by contract work to write several units of work for Southern Cross University. She recently finished part time work and simply changed direction with time to devote to her own creativity. You can find her work at Creative Textiles.

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