Book Reviews

The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

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List Price: £13.24


Paperback: 400 Pages.

Published: 02 August 2016 by Atria Books

Edition: Reprint

ISBN: 9781501126918

EAN: 9781501126918

An 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.


3.0 Stars3.0 Stars3.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Good Description - Weak Main Character

Set in the Outer Hebrides, this book has excellent description of the wild landscape and weather. Hetty has inherited a house from a relative she barely knew existed. Escaping a difficult relationship in London she comes to see the place for herself. Running parallel to this modern story is the story of Beatrice. A newly wed young lady in the early twentieth century she is bought to this house by her husband, Theo. Theo is a famous and anguished painter who leaves Beatrice very much to her own devices.

Although this book is well written with excellent description, it is far from original. There are several cliches - anguished artist and young neglected wife who is attracted to a local man in the past thread. In the modern we have a woman who didn't know about her inheritance escaping a difficult relationship who also has some attraction for a local man & has a mystery to solve. I have recently read similar books including The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James. This does mean that the book is quite predictable and there were no sudden unexpected twists to lift it away from this.

I wasn't that taken with Hetty, the main character in the modern thread. I found her very weak & irritating. She seems to be unable to kick her boyfriend into touch and accepts being bossed around by him and his associates. It takes a long time for Hetty to stand up for herself and this made me very irritated. In fact in places I was quite surprised that this book was written by a woman as the author was very patronising towards Hetty. This really affected my enjoyment of the book. I am aware that not every woman - or man - can be strong and stand up for themselves but the author needed to provide the backstory to show why she was reliant on others and struggled to assert herself. This just didn't happen.

Had it not been for the character flaws of Hetty this would have been a four star book. It isn't original though the description is good. However, the character of Hetty really spoiled this book for me and resulted in its downgrading to 3 stars.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgallley.

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