EXCERPT: A half-empty train rattles through fields and farmland towards the grey concrete sprawl of the city. There is a young woman huddled in the farthest corner of the last carriage. Her hair is like a veil, hiding her tears. In her pocket is an antique brooch. Her fingers brush the cold arc of it before flipping it over and over in time to the rhythmic clatter of wheels on track. When she can resist no longer, she releases the clasp and stabs the pin deep into the flesh of her palm.
It’s agony, but she won’t stop. She presses the needle deeper still, until warm blood streams down her wrist and splashes crimson onto the carriage floor.
Finally, the train jerks and slows. Brakes squeal.
As they reach their destination she pushes the bloodied brooch deep into her coat pocket, grabs her bag and then drops down onto the platform.
People dart about her. Two women shriek and embrace. A tall man in a turban races for the ticket barriers. A spotty teenager hops from foot to foot, gazing up at the departures board as he shovels crisps into his mouth. Everything around her seems to buzz and hum while she just stands there on the platform, a single fixed point, breathing deeply.
Signs for the Underground point one way but she ignores them, hefting her bag onto her shoulder and making for the street exit. She strikes out across a busy pedestrian crossing and turns left for the bridge. Big Ben looms in the distance; it is three minutes to twelve.
She walks with purpose; she knows where she is going and what has to be done. But then she sees the river, and the sight of it, a shifting black mass carving its way through the city, makes her shudder. Whenever she’s imagined this moment the water has been grey and flat, not dark and viscous like seeping oil. But it doesn’t matter now. There is no going back.
She stops halfway across the bridge and leans her rucksack up against the wall. Then, with a quick glance about her, she scoots up and over the barrier until she is clinging to the other side of the balustrade.
The toes of her trainers balance precariously on the concrete ledge. She grips the wall, wincing as her bleeding palm scrapes the stone, and then twists so that she is facing the water below. The wind blows her hair, whipping it across her face and stinging her eyes until hot tears form. She blinks them back.
‘Hey!’ She hears a cry behind her. ‘Hey, what are you doing?’
She is out of time.
She locks her gaze on a sea of grey buildings on the far horizon and, with a final breath, lets go of the balustrade. Then she is falling, falling, falling.
Any breath left in her body is punched out by the ice-cold water. She fights the urge to kick and struggle, instead surrendering herself to the inky blackness, letting the weight of her clothes take her stone-like towards the bottom.
By the time Big Ben chimes midday she is gone, lost to the murky depths below.
THE BLURB: 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 love a good family drama. And Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell certainly ticked all the boxes. And believe it or not, this was a debut novel!
Secrets and lies. We all have them. We all tell them. It is just the scale, the magnitude that varies. And families? They are probably the worst culprits. For families keep secrets from one another, and for one another. And then there are the families who conspire to keep secrets from the outside world. I am not going to tell you which category this family falls into.
Hannah Richell portrays a very realistic family; the squabbles, the petty jealousies, the familiarity that breeds contempt and discontent, the wanting. ……..always wanting more, wanting something different.
Full marks Ms Richell. I will be reading more from you. And Secrets of the Tides is going on my ‘keeper’ shelf.
All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
For an explanation of my rating system, please visit my profile page on Goodreads.com or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/970113698