Author: Hannah Richell
Secrets of the Tides is a gripping and emotional debut novel by the talented Hannah Richell, a debut that was highly sought after at auction and will release simultaneously in many countries across the world. I can certainly understand the excitement surrounding this release now that I have read it.
The one thing that I did have an issue with was that I took this book on holidays with me – to the beach. It tied my stomach in knots and had me clutching my children tighter.
Richell weaves the tale of an estranged family and the burdens carried by each member. The story is heartbreaking and compelling, it will grip you and not let go; partly because of a need to discover all of the secrets of the past but just as importantly is the need to discover how it will all end.
Clever and intriguing is the choice of title that lends gravity to the importance of the ocean, and to then discover that our tragic family of protagonists are the Tides. The cover art shows two sisters playing nicely in the shallows of a sandy beach lending weight to the role the beach will play in this story.
The story is told from the perspective of the three Tide women, Helen and her daughters Cassie and Dora. The timeline of the novel is not linear and this serves only to increase the grip with which Richell manages to hold you. Each of our protagonists tell their present story as well as their version of the past to demonstrate that there is more than one side to every story and no-one can truly understand a life-changing event until they know each of those sides.
The Tides are a family in turmoil, one event over a decade ago has affected all of them and isolated each of them in their grief. The disintegration of the family rapidly followed with some extremely emotional scenes that wrenched my heart. I don’t want to say too much about the actual story, the last thing I want to do is ruin the suspense.
The Tides are adrift, their grief isolated them from each other and the years have taken them further apart. Dora is looking at a fresh start but the events of the past have scarred her, left her unsure of how to proceed with her new beginning. This is what prompts Dora to look back through the years for closure.
Richell captures the dynamic of the Tide family and the struggles they face with clarity and sensitivity, exploring the emotions and situations with a depth that engages every empathetic cell of your soul. I was tormented by the pain Dora suffered, the guilt she struggled with and the unanswered questions she could never outrun.
Each of the women in this story have their own secret crosses to bear and it is only slowly that the story unravels. We read through three different voices and piece the stories of these characters together as they live now and as they lived through the past. Some passages are confronting and quite disturbing to read which only serves to enable a deeper resonation of this story in your heart.
The characters are well rounded, their stories well developed and their motivations suitably explored. This is a book that I loved, it had a little bit of everything and it really made me sit back and think about what I have, and appreciate how quickly things can change.
As a mother and as a sister this story touched me deeply and I believe it will do so for everyone who reads it. This is a hard hitting debut novel that was told beautifully and I can not wait to see what Hannah Richell has in store for us next.