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Novel set in the Atlantic and the West Country (sauve qui peut)

8th January 2016

The Crossing by Andrew Miller, novel set in the Atlantic (and the West Country).

Andrew Miller won the Costa Award in 2011 with his sixth novel Pure (set in 1780s Paris).

IMG_3134Who is Maud? What does she stand for? Inimitable, self sufficient, enigmatic, perhaps on the autistic spectrum….. She threads her way through story, yet she is unknowable. Tim, who is drawn to her early in the book – after she falls from a boat on which they are both working – embarks on a relationship with her; they go on to have a child together. But Maud continues – prefers even – to pursue her career. She is in a bubble of disconnect. Those around, including the reader, have no inkling as to what she might be feeling, or the drives that really lie at the heart of some of her actions and responses. But that is ok. There is a sweeping narrative that mirrors the ebb and flow of water, which is central to the story; whether Maud is drinking water insatiably throughout, feeding her soul with liquid gold or letting the tantrums of the seas influence her trajectory.

I came to this book consciously choosing not to read the synopsis, which I felt was a boon to the experience of the story. I had little sense where the words were taking me, much like the seas in the book.


TripFiction Tina talking to the author at Forum Books, Corbridge

There is a critical event in the storyline that is the pivotal point for change – and even then we learn little more about Maud and her inner self and workings. She is tossed and turned like flotsam and jetsam, and this is very unnerving for those around her, because she is never really thrown off course, and never revealing of her inner core – what do people do with someone like that? Maud is shunned by many of those around, reviled and rejected, willingly, it seems, taken advantage of, yet even this does not throw her off course; nevertheless, there is a sneaking admiration for her strength and determination to plough on through the most adverse circumstances.

There are long passages of sea-faring description which lapped at my tolerance levels for life on the high seas – having only been on a yacht twice in my life. But for a reader who loves yachting adventures, this will be an absolute feast of experience; it seems really well researched, the jibs pop up at pertinent points, and maps and masts punctuate the narrative. And I really wanted to know how things pan out for Maud.

An unusual and readable book.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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