Lead Review

  • Book: Still Water
  • Location: Shetland Islands
  • Author: Rebecca Pert

Review Author: Tina Hartas



Still Water is the story of two generations of the same family. Of mothers and of their children. Of the fear that the character defects can pass through from one generation to the next. It is set both in Devon and the Shetland Islands, two very contrasting locations. The comfort of South West England and the simple life of a windswept island. It is 1978 in Devon. Sylvia falls in love with oil worker Bobby and, pregnant and married, moves north with him. She finds the Shetland Islands a struggle, the people unfriendly. Bobby dies and she moves back to Devon with her now two children. She suffers from mental health issues and is not a happy soul. Her daughter (Hannah as she was, Jane as she becomes) eventually moves back to the Shetland Islands and falls in love with fisherman Mike. She becomes pregnant. She discovers her mother’s diary and reads about the dramatic events of her childhood. Many unanswered questions are answered. She is fearful of having her own baby, and the possibility that she may be carrying the same defective genes as her mother. The consequences could be frightening – as they were for her and, especially, for her younger brother.

Still Water is a powerful story covering two generations. It is set in 1978 and the present day. The locations for both periods are identical – a village in Devon and the Shetland Islands. Many of the same characters appear in both timelines. This, and it may well be the intention of the author, leads to some confusion. The timeline can change mid chapter with little warning. It makes for a sense of not quite knowing where you are. And this may well reflect the situation of the characters.

In location terms the Shetland Islands come through very strongly – you can feel the isolation. Devon is much more cosy and didn’t, for me, leave such an impression.

Still Water is a debut novel from Rebecca Pert. She is clearly a very talented author – and I look forward to seeing what follows.

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