Imagine inheriting a rambling old house on a remote Scottish island. This is what happens to Hetty Deveraux in The House Between Tides, a debut novel by Sarah Maine. Hetty's pushy boyfriend and financial adviser, Giles, is full of big ideas for Muirlan House, but Hetty begins to have cold feet and catches a plane to Scotland alone. She desperately needs to see the place for herself and have some space to think.
James Cameron has long family ties to the island where Muirlan House stands. He has been surveying the building and things don’t look good. Neglect has seen the foundations undermined, the staircase is positively dangerous and a storm could easily bring down an entire wall. On top of which, James has just discovered a skeleton under the floorboards when Hetty arrives eager to inspect her inheritance.
The two clash over what might happen to the property while the story weaves back to a hundred years before, when estate owner, artist Theo Blake, brings his young bride home to Muirlan. He hasn’t been back for twenty years, since he left to study art, leaving behind the love of his life. He’s a difficult person to get to know, and his new wife Beatrice struggles to build a happy marriage. If only Theo could settle back to painting again, but the longer they stay on the island, the more distant and moody he becomes.
There are simmering passions, wild weather and an atmospheric setting filled with stunning views and bird-life. Author, Sarah Maine, is a gifted writer when it comes to capturing the mood and feel of this remote and lonely house and its misfit characters. However the book could probably have lost around fifty pages – there are a lot of wistful walks along the shore and light playing on water. However I did enjoy the book enough to keep reading.
There are plenty of novels like this - family secrets, a neglected house, conflicting interests and undercurrents of romance, but if you enjoy the genre, The House Between Tides is better than most. And it’s hard to resist a story set on a Scottish island.
Posted by JAM
Catalogue link: The House Between Tides