The House Between Tides is Sarah Maine's debut novel, releasing in Canada on August 2/16.
I always stop to look at a cover before turning the first page and this one definitely caught my eye. A mysterious old house surrounded by water? I'm in.
Hetty Deveraux is living in London when she is contacted by a solicitor informing her that she has inherited Muirlan House in the Scottish Hebrides - a house that is only accessible twice a day from the mainland when the tides are out.
Hetty is shocked, but sees the inheritance as a chance to escape London and her boyfriend. Perhaps the estate can be fixed up and turned into a hotel? But when she arrives, the damage is greater than she could have imagined. Uninhabited since 1945, the house has fallen into abject disrepair. When a set of bones is located under some floorboards, any idea of repairing the building is quickly halted. Who could the bones belong to? What happened? When? Why?
Absolutely delicious! Spanning one hundred years, The House Between Tides is told in a then and now format, alternating chapters from Beatrice's voice in 1910 and Hetty's in 2010.
Beatrice is the young wife of noted painter and wildlife enthusiast Theo Blake, who owns the island and manages the crofters. Life on Muirlan is not quite the idyllic experience Beatrice had imagined. There are secrets and simmering tensions between family members as well as the island community - and between Beatrice and her new husband. And neither is it quite what Hetty had envisioned either. Those secrets and tensions seem to have survived the years, affecting the present. Issues brought to light in 1910 are still relevant in 2010.
Ahh, what more could you want? A rambling mansion, desolate setting, secrets, a body, suspicious and unhappy locals, love stories (yes, plural, there are two of them - one in each time frame) and a lovely, atmospheric journey to the ending where the narratives finally meet. A decidedly Gothic feel.
I enjoyed both Beatrice and Hetty as lead characters. But, I was drawn more to Beatrice, for although she was constrained by the societal expectations of the time, she stayed true to herself and had spunk. Hetty is constrained more by her own self, her insecurities and her inability to speak up for herself.
I enjoy dual narrative novels. The reader is privy to both timelines, able to fit together the pieces and see where they might fit together. However, I do find myself staying up late with the back and forth - I always need just 'one more chapter' before shutting off the lights.
Maine paints a beautiful setting in The House Between Tides - the sea, the sun, the sand, the sky and the wildlife are all wonderfully and vividly described - making it very easy to imagine the island.
I quit enjoyed The House Between Tides and look forward to Maine's next book. Fans of Kate Morton and Eve Chase would enjoy The House Between Tides. Read an excerpt.
You can find Sarah Maine on her website, follow her on Twitter @SarahMaineBooks and like her on Facebook.