I read three 5 star books in March, all of which were brilliant in their own way, but The Returning Tide has to be the winner, as it completely broke my heart and is now my absolute favourite book by Liz Fenwick!
Two sisters and one betrayal that will carry across generations…
In wartime Cornwall, 1943, a story between two sisters begins – the story of Adele and Amelia, and the heart-breaking betrayal that will divide them forever. Decades later, the efforts of one reckless act still echo – but how long will it be until their past returns?
The Returning Tide will sweep you away to the beautiful Cornish coast, full of secrets and mystery, and will be loved by fans of Kate Morton and Rachel Hore.
Due to a sad and stressful time in my own life recently, I have struggled to get into books in recent weeks. However, it’s as if this book cured me of that. Perhaps it’s the healing nature of Cornwall, or the fact that I could relate to the emotions the characters experienced.
I was completely absorbed by this story. Each time I picked it up, life around me completely stopped, as my mind went to a different place and time. Each time I had to put this book down, I would think about it throughout the day, eager for night to fall so I could read again. This is Liz Fenwick’s longest novel, and I think that may very well have improved the story. It flowed well at a comfortable pace and nothing felt rushed. If I’m completely honest, I’m finding it hard to let go of this story and the wonderful characters within its pages. Just writing this review is making me feel emotional.
This book made me cry on numerous occasions. It brought to life the dark reality of war, even for those who weren’t on the frontline. One event within this story had me somewhat traumatised by what I witnessed. I felt the character’s horror and frustration at being so completely powerless to do anything. I read that particular chapter again to truly experience the enormity of the situation, and I suspect a little part of me hoped I had somehow imagined what I read and it wasn’t as bad as I feared. How someone can live with that experience and have to keep it a secret for so long, I’ll never know. Truly harrowing!
With my husband being in the Royal Navy, and currently serving away in the Middle East for two and a half months, I suspect this made me a little more emotional. I could really relate to the characters. Their need to hear from their loved ones. Thank goodness for the internet these days. I don’t know how they coped having to wait days, even weeks for that letter to arrive in the post to find out whether their loved ones were alive. I struggle if I don’t hear from my husband for a couple of days. Talking of letters, I absolutely loved the letters that featured within this story. I had lots of pen pals as a teenager. I loved writing letters and the excitement of receiving them, so I really enjoyed that part of the story.
This book has a couple of wonderful old characters in it. I’m a huge fan of old people. I have a lot of respect for them, and would gladly give my time to listen to their stories of the past, so I really warmed to those characters in the story. The biggest storyteller in my family was my Otley Grandma, who sadly passed away late last year at the age of ninety. I loved listening to her stories. One of my favourites is about her being pregnant with my dad, but my grandad having to go away with the military to serve in Singapore. My dad didn’t meet his own father until he was two years old. All my dad had at home was a framed photo of his father, and my grandma taught him that picture was his dad. My grandma had to take the long and tough journey by boat with a two year old, to be with my grandad in Singapore. When they arrived, my grandma asked my dad where his father was, and he instantly went to the suitcase that contained the picture of his dad, rather than his real life father stood in front of him, bless him.
I also loved that Snowy the cat features in this book. The loss of a pet is heart breaking. Having lost two dogs in just over a year, I know that feeling all too well, so it was lovely to see that Snowy the cat lives on within this book. It brought a smile to my face the first time I read Snowy’s name.
There is always something within Liz Fenwick’s books that triggers a memory of my time in Cornwall. There were various locations I related to this time, but the ones that created the strongest emotions within me were Durgan and Mawnan Smith. A few years ago my husband and I visited Glendurgan Gardens. We were told that if we went out of the gates at the very bottom of the gardens, we could visit a tiny little place called Durgan. With a handful of quaint houses, a post box in the wall, and a little beach along the Helford River it felt like we had discovered a secret gem. Our curiosity and desire for adventure took over, and we ventured out of Durgan, along the river. We soon came to a little cove along the river that now makes me think of Daphne du Maurier novels. It felt so magical. Before we knew it, we were walking through woods and getting completely lost. We eventually came out at Mawnan Smith, but had no idea where we were in relation to Glendurgan Gardens. Luckily, with the help of a few locals, we eventually found our way back to our car and made it home safely. That was one of my most fun adventures during the few years I’ve lived in Cornwall, and I’m thankful that this book brought it back to life.
If you enjoy emotional and thought provoking women’s fiction with a historical element and a romance that will make your heart ache, then I highly recommend this book. It appears I may have just written a novella length review, so if you’ve made it this far, I’ve clearly held your interest, and you will have gathered this book was a rather heartfelt experience for me, so now it’s time for you to add this book to your wish list. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Stalk an Author:
On top of thoroughly enjoying reading The Returning Tide this month, I also had the pleasure of seeing Liz Fenwick at her book signing in Truro Waterstones 🙂 I’ve included a photo here, but you can click here to see my full blog post on this month’s author stalking 😉
Where to find this book:
Where to find the author: