Windward, 1945 – The marquee is out there on the lawn waiting for the wedding guests. Adele watches on and wonders how she has got to this point.
Windward, 2015 – The wedding marquee is out on the lawn waiting for the guests. Elle watches on and wonders how she ended up here.
It is in fact not the intervening years which complete the story it is that which has passed before.
Adele and Amelia, twins, identical perhaps by sight but not by personality. Amelia is the more carefree perhaps reckless one, Adele the constrained thoughtful one. But as war has started to reach Cornwall and the men they know are disappearing, the girls, once old enough join the WRNS in 1943 to escape. Ironically it is Adele who finds herself in London and Amelia who is restricted to a driving job in Cornwall. It will be the first time that they have been apart and not had the other to wholly rely on.
The story of the sisters, continues as war progresses. War separates and divides, as if a tide is washing in and out. The sisters keep in contact but rarely see each other. That is until one day when events mean they will never see each other again.
Across the ocean, Lara is struggling to cope with the loss of her great-grandfather, the breakup of her marriage and the loss of her job. She feels adrift and nothing seems to be able to settle her. When her great-grandfather’s last word is Adele, she wants to find out more about the man and the great-grandmother she never knew, and of course Adele.
This is historical fiction at its best. Liz Fenwick has taken all the right elements, a time in history which was defining for the course of the Second World War and one that is on occasions missing from history. We have families struggling on both sides of the Atlantic with their secrets about the past. You of course as reader know information that some of the characters don’t but I was totally enthralled with how they were going to find out and how all the pieces of the story fitted together.
The story is told in alternating time frames and I admit there are a lot of jumps to begin with, but once you overcome that you will be gripped by the story and totally unaware of the joins in the time frames. This was also helped for me with the letters between the sisters, in the main to fill in the gaps as the story progressed. It was a useful technique to bring the story together and emphasised how news was imparted during such times.
A chance conversation with a member of her family led to Liz Fenwick writing this novel which is very different to her previous work. Whilst this is not an exact retelling of events, elements of reality are very much between the pages and it is worth remembering that what you are about to read in this book, did in fact happen.
One simple action was all it took for the course of someones life to change irrevocably. As the tide went out, it was never going to return……but what if it did………?
An excellent read and one of the best books I have read so far in 2017.
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
The Returning Tide is out now.