Memoirs set in Calabria (the dolce vita calabrese)
Family saga set in Iceland and Cambridge
22nd April 2019
Time’s Tide by Adrian Harvey, family saga set in Iceland and Cambridge.
A really interesting and extremely well written book. You are immersed in the uncompromising and dangerous life of the West Fjords of Iceland, and must contrast this with the somewhat more comfortable life of a Cambridge academic.
Time’s Tide is the story of three generations of the same Icelandic family. Einar, the grandfather, is born, raised and married on the remote Icelandic island of Hesteyri. Life there is so tough and unremitting that his whole village decides to uproot and and head for Bolungarvik, a town on the mainland – still pretty primitive but with electricity, television, and motor cars. He took with him his wife and son, Eirikur. His other son, Ólafur, had died of a fever before they moved, a death from which Einar never recovered. Eirikur grows up and gets married in Bolungarvik. He has a son Arni, who is an adventurous soul. Not content with life on the West Fjords, he goes to University in Reykjavik and moves on to a research job in Cambridge where he meets, and marries, Charlotte. Einar decides to return to Hesteyri at the end of his life.
The story is woven around the very different lives of the three men and their partners. How they interrelate and how, in particular, Arni manages his two separated lives – he part lives in the West Fjords, and part lives in Cambridge. He agonises that he has left his father behind.
The book has a pretty complex structure. Each chapter is headed with the year in which the events described in it take place. In order, the chapters are 1958, 2008, 1975, 2001, 1952, 1993, 1969, 1998, 1988, 2005, 1950, 2010, 1982, and 2012! I enjoyed the book greatly and made efforts to keep up – but I admit that I was, on occasion, a tad confused as to exactly where we were – and which events I had already read about came before and after what I was currently reading. In that sense it was not an easy read.
Time’s Tide is, though, an excellent book in TripFiction terms. The harsh environment of the West Fjords of Iceland comes through loud and clear – and contrasts beautifully with the somewhat more genteel surroundings of Cambridge.
A really interesting book. Recomended.
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