August 02, 2016
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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.
Following the death of her last living relative, Hetty Deveraux leaves London and her strained relationship behind for Muirlan, her ancestral home in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. She intends to renovate the ruinous house into a hotel, but the shocking discovery of human remains brings her ambitious restoration plans to an abrupt halt before they even begin. Few physical clues are left to identify the body, but one thing is certain: this person did not die a natural death.
Hungry for answers, Hetty discovers that Muirlan was once the refuge of her distant relative Theo Blake, the acclaimed painter and naturalist who brought his new bride, Beatrice, there in 1910. Yet ancient gossip and a handful of leads reveal that their marriage was far from perfect; Beatrice eventually vanished from the island, never to return, and Theo withdrew from society, his paintings becoming increasingly dark and disturbing.
What happened between them has remained a mystery, but as Hetty listens to the locals and studies the masterful paintings produced by Theo during his short-lived marriage, she uncovers secrets that still reverberate through the small island community—and will lead her to the identity of the long-hidden body.
The promise of, 'Kate Morton meets Daphne du Maurier' was too much for me to possibly pass up - Rebecca is one of my favorite books, ever, and I loved The Lake House. Yet, I remained incredibly skeptical that the book would actually deliver on that promise. It did, though. It really, really, really did.
The setting of an isolated island and neighboring village in the Scottish Hebrides and the out of place, grand estate house, provide the gothic atmosphere. It should feel idyllic when we read about THeo and Beatrice, so recently married, getting away from the constraints of the city and spending time, together, at his family home. The 2010 parts of the story let you know, pretty quickly, that it's not all Beatrice hopes for. Just what that means - the how, why, and what - aren't revealed nearly as quickly
The characters in this book are phenomenal. The combination of Theo, Beatrice and the island's few other inhabitants lives in 1910, their individual pasts, they way many of those pasts overlap and intersect and tehy way they impact others' present and future if really well done.
Thanks to the discovery of the bones that something untoward while for Beatrice, Theo, Cameron, Emily, et al it's still to come. Then there's how Hetty seems to discover more about herself (and those around her) as she uncovers more about the Blakes and pieces things together. There were times that I had trouble keeping James and Cameron entirely separate in my head, but that was all.
There are a lot of times that I read a book and like, love, enjoy the characters. Very, very rarely do I read a book and have to literally remind myself that they are fictional characters, that they didn't live one hundred plus years ago and I can't find out any more about them than is in the book. The House Between Tides' characters were ones it seemed I should be able to go look up, to find photos of or historical records.
This was Sarah Maine's first novel but i never would have guessed it. The setting, the characters, the connection between the past and present, the mystery and the little twists and turns that keep you guessing, all will keep you reading The House Between Tides right up to the end
You Might Also Enjoy: The Lake House by Kate Morton and At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
digital copy received for review from publisher, via NetGalley