The cold cold sea - Linda Huber - Dark domestic drama
When three-year-old Olivia disappears, her parents are overwhelmed with grief. Weeks go by and Olivia's mother refuses to leave the cottage, staring out at the turbulent sea and praying it didn't claim her precious daughter's life. Not far away, another mother watches proudly as her daughter starts school. Jennifer has loved Hailey for five years, but the child is suddenly moody and difficult, and there's a niggling worry of doubt that Jennifer cannot shake off. As she struggles to maintain control there are gaps in her story that even she can't explain. Time is running out for Maggie at the cottage, and also for Jennifer and Hailey. No-one can underestimate a mother's love for her child, and no-one can predict the lengths one will go to, to protect her family.
A chilling, dark, domestic drama set in Cornwall, it's tense and scary, but its also about peoples reactions to tragedy and things people will do when dreadful events take over their lives. Emotional and involving with great twists and touches of "Oh no, don't do that"
The story continues in several different perspectives, those of Maggie whose little girl Olivia went missing on the beach, at first she longs for her daughters return, then as weeks pass and the search grows futile she only longs for closure, her feelings of guilt for not preventing this occurring place cracks in her marriage.
There is also Phillip who is abroad caring for his terminally ill grandmother, aware that his wife Jennifer struggles to cope alone he is keen to get back to her, meanwhile she makes plans for their future but finds it hard to relate to her little girl Hailey who has become sullen and uncommunicative.
Finally we meet Katie a newly qualified infants teacher, keen to make a real difference to her young pupils starting school for the first time, when little Hailey joins her class she tries to get the reluctant child to open up, but can't quite put her finger on whether the little girl is just difficult, or if there are problems at home.
As the story unfolds things become clear that I don't want to reveal as you'll uncover them when you read it, theres no great mystery as to what has happened, you'll be able to work that out yourself, but the twists and turns lie not in what, but why and how and the consequences and repercussions of peoples decisions.
There are a couple of pretty unreliable narrators and though we know their viewpoint is skewed its hard to work out quite how things are going to end. You'll really dislike the way a couple of them behave, but there are also situations where you will think, what would I do? How would I cope? It twists at your heartstrings and then slaps you in the face.
This is a clever, character driven story and it's also about emotions, and reactions to those emotions and how events outside our control can have far reaching repercussions. There are a couple of characters whose actions are quite hard to stomach, although you can still have sympathy for them.
One of the main characters is a little girl you will hold close to your heart and you'll keep turning the pages, hoping beyond hope that her story at least can have a happy ending - but can it? You'll have to read this excellent tangled tale to find out.