“So there it was: Muirlan Strand. And there was the island, as her grandmother had described it, on the edge of the world, and there, standing tall on a ridge, she had seen the house itself, the painter’s eyrie. Silhouetted against the complex hues of the western sky.”
– Sarah Maine, The House Between Tides
A captivating story of a crumbling estate in the wilds of Scotland, its century-old secret and an enduring mystery.
Following the deaths of her last living relatives, Hetty Deveraux leaves her strained marriage behind in London and journeys to Scotland to inspect her inheritance: her ancestral home, now in ruins. As Hetty dives headfirst into the repairs, she discovers a shocking secret protected by the house for a hundred years.
With only whispered rumours circulating among the local villagers and a handful of leads to guide her, Hetty finds the power of the past is still affecting her present in startling ways.
I don’t know what it is about remote Scottish places that seem so damn alluring and intriguing! The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine evokes an air of mystery with the cover before you’ve had a chance to open up to the first page! I will have to travel there one day… but for now I will have to be content with reading about these places instead! I was excited to read this book from the moment I pulled it out of the letter box!
In 2010, Hetty Devreaux inherits a crumbling mansion atop Muirland Island, a wild and remote part of the Scottish coast. Hetty hopes the edge-of-the-world location will be a fresh start for her, away from her stifling city life. The house once belonged to a distant relative; Theodore Blake is a reclusive artist from the late 1800’s who moved himself and his bride Beatrice to the island in 1910. Beatrice also finds the island a restorative place, away from the restrictive behaviours and expectations of their social circle in the city. The discovery of human remains below the floor in the old house dating from Theodore and Beatrice’s time leads Hetty on an investigation of her family’s past and brings her closer to a century-old drama. The House Between Tides is the tale of two women living a hundred years apart yet both fighting for independence and respect.
The House Between Tides is a really beautifully crafted novel. Maine’s descriptions are vivid and evocative; the island, its landscape and the weather are a force unto themselves. Even the house has a personality of its own! What appeals to me the most is the gothic nature of the story: the downfall of the Blake family, the glory of the natural surroundings and the fact that the characters are at its whim. I love the way the romance and mystery are tied up together – one cannot be discussed without revealing the other – and the way the women play such an important role, although they’re not without their struggles. The old mansion is an imposing figure on the island and represents the power struggles going on within and around it. The inequalities between landowner and tenant, husband and wife and friends are explored in depth and it is a really fascinating cast of characters. They each have a role to play and Maine’s ability to bring them to life is a joy to read. I loved Beatrice; she is a strong-willed and independent woman who loves deeply, and respects both people and nature in equal measure. She was highlight for me! To finish, The House Between Tides is another must read to add to your reading pile!
AUTHOR: Sarah Maine
PUBLISHER: Allen and Unwin
PUB DATE: 22 June 2016
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!