Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

From the publisher: Kate Morton meets Daphne du Maurier in this atmospheric debut novel about a woman who discovers the century-old remains of a murder victim on her family’s Scottish estate, plunging her into an investigation of its mysterious former occupants.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sarah Maine’s debut novel The House Between Tides. In 2010, Hetty Deveraux contemplates turning the massive house that she has inherited on a remote Scottish island into an upscale hotel. She meets resistance from the cordial but cool locals, who have just found the remains of a body in the decaying home as Hetty arrives to examine the property. Her pushy boyfriend Giles and the two shallow agents he has employed consider the hotel a done deal, but Hetty is not so sure.

The narrative flashes back and forth between 2010 and 1910, when young Beatrice arrives on the island as a new bride with her much older husband, artist Theo Blake. Woven throughout the story are works of art, loves lost, family mysteries, and wild birds.

The descriptions of the island in the Hebrides are very evocative. The author also captures the mansion in its glory in 1910 and in its moldering state in 2010. As a bird lover, I was interested in the thread about the irony of birdwatchers of the past shooting birds and collecting their eggs, no matter how rare or endangered. I was reminded of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black because the house can only be reached when the tide is out, but otherwise they are quite different books. (However, if you liked The Woman in Black you will probably enjoy this book also.)

The House Between Tides is not a perfect book. It takes Hetty too long to grow a spine, and the “bad guy” boyfriend and agents are stereotypical with no depth. Some of the family mysteries are obvious from the start, and I guessed the identification of the body long before the end. Still, I stayed up late finishing The House Between Tides, something I don’t do that often anymore. I also love the cover!

I recommend The House Between Tides to lovers of romantic gothic fiction and mysteries. I read an advance reader copy. It will be published in August 2016 and will be available for checkout at the Galesburg Public Library as a print book and an ebook.  

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