Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (12 Sep 2013)
When Emily Gordon, editor at a London publishing house, commissions an account of great English novelist Hugh Morton, she finds herself steering a tricky path between Morton’s formidable widow, Jacqueline, who’s determined to protect his secrets, and the biographer, charming and ambitious Joel Richards. But someone is sending Emily mysterious missives about Hugh Morton’s past and she discovers a buried story that simply has to be told… One winter’s day in 1948, nineteen year old Isabel Barber arrives at her Aunt Penelope’s house in Earl’s Court having run away from home to follow her star. A chance meeting with an East European refugee poet leads to a job with his publisher, McKinnon & Holt, and a fascinating career beckons. But when she develops a close editorial relationship with charismatic young debut novelist Hugh Morton and the professional becomes passionately personal, not only are all her plans put to flight, but she finds herself in a struggle for her very survival. Rachel Hore’s intriguing and suspenseful new novel magnificently evokes the milieux of London publishing past and present and connects the very different worlds of two young women, Emily and Isabel, who through their individual quests for truth, love and happiness become inextricably linked.
In the prologue, we’re with Isabel on the East Suffolk coast on 31 January 1953. It’s one of the worst storms on record and as the North Sea floods over the marshland we witness a devastating flood scene.
Straight away I felt as if I was a part of the story. The scene is so clearly portrayed.
Part One begins with Emily in present day Berkley Square in November waiting for her boyfriend. She sees a mysterious woman and then finds that an old book by Hugh Morton is left for her. This is the beginning of the clues left for her.
We’re then with Isabel in London in November 1948. Isabel had fled to her aunt’s home in London, away from her family in Kent.
This is the structure of the story. Alternating chapters of present day with Emily following her own journey of being a part of the publishing world, her relationship with boyfriend Matthew and her involvement in Hugh Morton’s biography and the intrigue surrounding his first wife. In the past with Isabel we become a part of the life in the late 1940’s/early 1950’s and her time in the publishing world and her emotional life.
I have to admit I loved being in the past. Everything feels very authentic. Isabel is an independent woman who finds it difficult to settle into married life and motherhood. Her life would have been much less traumatic had she lived in the present day! It was easy to empathise with her as she tried to find her place.
I had guessed one thing about Isabel although hadn’t realised it was unintentional but had no idea about the other! They are connected though – one leading to the other. Sorry to be so cryptic – no spoilers!
I understood Jacqueline but even so, she is the character I liked the least.
There’s intense emotion in Emily’s life too but this didn’t pull me in as much as Isabel did. The intrigue with the clues leads her on and motivates her to find out the truth. I enjoyed being a part of Matthew’s literary world and I liked the significance of the Valentine’s card!
The Silent Tide is an apt title in more ways than one…
I would like to thank the publishers for providing an uncorrected proof in exchange for an honest review.