Lead Review

  • Book: You, Me & The Sea
  • Location: Firth of Forth
  • Author: Elizabeth Haynes

Review Author: Tina Hartas



Rachel Long has a bit of a history of getting things wrong. She has just come out of a relationship with Amarjit – the moniker ejit would be much more fitting – who was her boss and basically used her. Actually, it wasn’t a relationship, it was an abuse of power and she somehow allowed herself to acquiesce. She needs a little time to lick her wounds and thus decides to take a job on the fictional isle of Must, adjacent to the Isle of May, which is a real island in the Firth of Forth, Scotland.

Rachel is a Norfolk lass and already the author is creating a credible setting (mention of Jarrold Bookshop/Store chain and the Happisburg (pronounced Hazeburgh) Lighthouse really anchor the city). She then clearly has immersed herself in the setting of the Isle of Must, which is a bird sanctuary and it certainly attracts many birders. Rachel is appointed to look after the visitors in the small and basic hostel. She cooks and cleans and changes the bedding.

Her quarters are a slight distance away in the Lighthouse, where Fraser lives, and he oversees the running of the island. He is a gruff man and much like Tom Sherbourne in The Light Between Oceans, he is a taciturn and grumpy fellow (reminiscent of Captain Haddock of Tintin fame).

She discovers that a young man called Lefty also resides there and it seems that he can ignite Fraser’s wrath at the drop of a hat. Why is he there? Rachel is a natural peace maker but cannot seem to bring about a truce between the two men.

There are plenty of secrets and histories that unfurl as the story progresses. Fraser often cries out at night and clearly is grappling with some demons from his past. Rachel, too, is sitting on a life changing event that continues to bubble along for her in the background.

The author has created a fabulous sense of place for the story, you can almost hear the roiling waves, feel the salty sea spray and hear the clamour of the nesting birds. The rugged nature of the island is something the characters have to grapple with, it is oftentimes a hostile and unforgiving terrain. You will also learn a little about the birds that have returned to the island to nest, the kittiwakes, the terns, the puffins and more…

The novel bowls along and kept me hooked, it is so very readable. For me some of the developing relationships, as they change and morph, perhaps didn’t feel quite convincing, but that is a minor quibble.

I read this novel with pleasure and I would recommend it.

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