Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Orion (12 April 2012)
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 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 the spellbinding debut from Hannah Richell, a rich and compelling family drama with a dark thread of suspense at its heart.
Before our journey with Dora begins, the prologue intrigues the reader. We know someone is in enough pain they want to gain the ultimate freedom but we don’t know who it is or when it is. I had the prologue in the back of my mind so when the ‘clue’ comes I was able to place the character although we are still left waiting to find out the reason.
We begin with Dora in the present day and how she feels about being pregnant. We know her panic is related to her family. She feels she doesn’t deserve a family, Dan or happiness – she is to blame for the family separation. It is not until a quarter of the way through the book that clues are dropped as to what has precipitated those feelings.
“Like a tiny hole in a tightly woven cloth, was it the move to Dorset that had tugged loose the first thread and begun to unravel the fabric of their family?” Dora reflects while visiting her mother at Clifftops.
The Tide family structure comes alive during the chapters in the past with Helen (Dora’s mother) as the focus. As the years pass we get to know more about their characters through Cassie (Dora’s sister) as well. Amongst this timeline is Dora in the present day, trying to find a way she can live with herself and find peace. The third person narrative suits the different timelines and allows the reader to experience family life from different perspectives.
Even before the event that has secrets entwined around it, the author explores the fragility and diversity of human feelings … including the darker side that we may find difficult to claim ownership of. The secrets the Tides hold close show how one mistake can change the lives of so many and leave a family damaged and torn apart, afraid to let go and move on to a new future. The layers are peeled back until there is only rawness. Hannah Richell explores how each member of the family lives with their guilt and grief. The darkness is compelling and I was drawn into the need to feel pain and to be in control. The redemption is a coming to terms and acceptance that begins to draw the threads together again.
The author uses figurative language to weave the reader into the story – the similes, metaphors and personification bring the words to life and the resultant images bring depth and lightness to the suspense and darkness of the events surrounding the Tide family.
Secrets of the Tides is a debut novel that will draw you in and stay with you for a long time after you have finished reading. It’s a ‘keeper’ for me!