Judith D Collins
The House Between Tides
By: Sarah Maine
Publication Date: 8/2/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars Fans of Kate Morton will love this atmospheric and immersive debut novel of a woman who returns to her ancestral home in Scotland and discovers a century-old secret buried in the basement. Following the deaths of her last living relatives, Hetty Deveraux leaves her strained marriage behind in London and returns to her ancestral home, a crumbling estate in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, with the intention of renovating and reselling it as a hotel, much to the dismay of the locals. As she dives headfirst into the repairs, she discovers human remains beneath a rotting floorboard in the basement, with few physical clues to identify the body. Who was this person? And why the makeshift grave?
Hungry for answers, Hetty sets out to unravel the estate’s secret—and those of its former inhabitants, including Beatrice Blake, a woman who moved there a century ago with her husband Theo, a famous painter who seemed to be more interested in Cameron, a young local man, than his own wife.
Following whispered rumors and a handful of leads, Hetty soon discovers that no one knows exactly what happened to Beatrice, only that her actions have reverberated throughout history, affecting Hetty’s present in startling ways.
A special thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
British author, Sarah Maine, delivers an atmospheric mysterious and suspenseful debut, THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES —a compelling mix of historic, Gothic and contemporary. A mystery of two women a century apart. From 1889 (Theo), 1910 (Beatrice) - 1945 to present, 2010, (Hetty) a woman returns to an inherited home and discovers a hidden secret. A crumbling mansion, an estate in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. With the intentions of renovating and selling it as a hotel. Hetty begins her journey. However, the old house, has secrets, history, and a sordid past. Harriet Deveraux (Hetty) sets out to unravel the secrets and mystery surrounding it’s former owners, Beatrice Blake and her husband Theo, a famous painter (also with a hidden life). The Muirlan House. It was huge. Much larger than Hetty had been expecting. A sign, danger, unsafe, deep out. Private property. She could not wait to see the inside. The place was now hers. An abandoned house. She knew nothing of restoring houses or running a hotel. The island as her grandmother had described, on the edge of the world. She had been warned. The lawyer acting has her grandmother’s executor had told her the place had been empty for many years and would need work. A nightmare! Some called it a “death trap.” Local assessor James Cameron finds a skeleton beneath the floorboards. There were bones. A corpse. An oval locket on a gold chain. A woman. In 1910, Beatrice Blake, a young bride, and her husband, a painter, Theo Blake, travel from Edinburgh to Theo’s estate on Muirlan island, the remote Muirlan House. He had a deep bond with the place and inspiration for many of his early paintings. Their marriage does not last. Betrayal. Theo had brought her here to his dream world, eager to share it but his passion had turned aside. Inward, excluding her, darkening to something she could not understand and she had become lost. Alternating between timelines, between 1920 and 2010, with copyeditor, Hetty Deveraux, arriving from London to the Muirlan House. Grief. Her parent’s death. An accident, but sudden and violent, and now three years later. Loss. A failed takeoff, a crash just beyond the runway. Then her grandmother’s death two months previously from dementia. She felt like she had been sleepwalking ever since. Hetty had never had the sense of belonging. Her father’s job with the foreign office had meant that home was not a place, but a transient. Her childhood had been spent flying back and forth from boarding school. An old crime with dark shadows lurking over Hetty’s new start. Theo Blake was something of a recluse, with his last twenty years alone in the house, letting it fall apart around him. It was always said the Blakes left the island together, although she never returned. Since inheriting the house, Hetty had been trying to learn more about the mysterious Theodore Blake. While his artistic achievements were well-documented, there was little written about his personal life and his later reclusive years were unrecorded except for the fact that he had drowned as an old man while crossing Muirlan Strand. Maine takes us back to the history of young Beatrice, her family and meeting Theo Blake, the strikingly handsome man. Thereafter a mystery. What drove the couple apart? A connection. Mystical, moody and dark. Mysterious and intriguing. Richly psychological, the author weaves secrets from both past and present with an evocative setting and story, both haunting and romantic. For fans of Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, Karen White, Sarah Jio, and Kate Morton! I also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Justine Eyre for a captivating performance. Looking forward to more by the author.
About the Author
Photograph by Susie McDonald at Brick Lane Studio
Sarah Maine was born in England but grew up partly in Canada before returning to the United Kingdom, where she now lives.
The House Between Tides is her first novel.