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Fiction set in Tasmania (“the sea around us”)

24th February 2015

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke, mystery/romance fiction set in Tasmania.

IMG_0204The setting for the book is the fictional island of Wattleboon and is modelled on Bruny Island, which lies off the south eastern coast of Tasmania. It has ruggedness, a sparse population and water-based activities which all make for a superb backdrop to the story.

Eva has only recently married Jackson and whilst spending time on the coast in the UK at her Mother’s house, Jackson drowns (not a spoiler as this happens early on in the book), and Eva somehow has to pick up the pieces of her life. As part of the mourning process, she feels it would be helpful to go halfway around the world to try and connect with Jackson’s estranged family in Australia. There is his Father, Dirk, to seek out but also his brother Saul, who is the real draw for her – why did he and Jackson fall out, what is the inherent mystery underpinning their relationship?

The deeper she delves, the more she becomes unsettled by what she finds, all is not as it seems. She lives in a small hut that Saul has arranged for her, she learns to freedive with Saul’s encouragement, and with each day she builds up a picture of the the man she married. How much did she really know about him?

It is a slow, languorous story that unfolds with each new revelation (there are many), and hovering in the background, trying to keep Eva on a reasonably straight and narrow path, is her friend Callie, who has accompanied her – Callie’s ultimate destination being Melbourne where she has a short term job.

The story is a meander through the fragile structure of one small family, and a gentle exploration of life on an Australian island. It is a satisfying read, the author is superb at conveying setting, and bringing characters together in an interesting and unique way.  The fluidity of the surrounding water is mirrored in the storyline, the crescendo of the tide echoing the denouements in plot. However the ending lacked some of the spirit that carried the book along, it was in many ways predictable and as the book came to a close, it ultimately felt a bit like watching the slapping of the water against the sand, the ending languid, a bit lacklustre.

Good travel fiction.

You can follow Lucy on Twitter and via her website

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