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Coming of age novel set mainly off the coast of Northumberland.

9th May 2024

Maybe, Perhaps, Possibly by Joanna Glen, coming of age novel set mainly off the coast of Northumberland.

Coming of age novel set mainly off the coast of NORTHUMBERLAND

I first came across this author’s work in All My Mothers, which is a beautifully written novel with a mesmerising story and which motivated me to visit Córdoba (where the novel is set) – and of course, this wonderful evocation of place in literature is at the heart of what TripFiction does.

Off the Northumberland coast are two fictional islands – Roskesby and Ora –  connected by a small bridge-cum-causeway at Low Tide. They must, I feel in essence, be near to Holy Island, which has a causeway to the mainland. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty, where puffins and other birds abound (both in the novel and in real life) and no two days are the same. In the Acknowledgements, the author talks about her love of birds and experiences of birdwatching off the Norfolk Broads and her interest comes through loud and clear..

On Rokesby Addie assists her mother in running a women’s retreat, she does the cooking and is also a gifted stitcher of wedding dresses. Sol is unhappy down south and invests in a camper van and heads up North and takes a boat across to Ora. They happen to meet and each catches the other’s eye. This is the story of two young people, who are most comfortable when surrounded by nature, less so when people are part of their lives. Each has a tricky parental backstory – Sol’s father is an ardent minister and Addie’s mother is focussed more on her own needs than those of her daughter; her father, in turn, is still married to his first wife, who is disabled now and he is not inclined to change the status quo.

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The little causeway between the two island is almost like a metaphor for the burgeoning fondness the two young people’s growth and friendship, sometimes you can see it and it is accessible, other times not, but there is a sense that it is firmly embedded, not always evident and visible.

They make tentative efforts to get to know each other, but they are both unsure of themselves how to manage the way forward, Sol heads to Fair Isle for a teaching job and they take a short but spectacular trip to find the Northern Lights around Tromsø. You can read the author’s #TalkingLocationWith … feature on this link.

A charmingly told and sweetly written story of a slowly budding and ponderous relationship, beautifully set in nature. For some the indulgence and lingering observations of nature and swimming, although ultimately life-affirming, may feel a little slow.

Tina for the Tripfiction

Catch the author on Twitter @JoannaGlenBooks  and Instagram @JoannaGlenWriter 

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