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SECRETS OF THE SEA by Nicholas Shakespeare

SECRETS OF THE SEA

By Nicholas Shakespeare

Pub Date: June 24th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-147470-5
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Set in Tasmania, an accomplished love story by British author Shakespeare (Snowleg, 2004, etc.).

Shakespeare’s perceptive, gently comic and lovingly visual novel charts the evolution of love in an out-of-the-way place—Wellington Point, population 327—where two people marked by tragedy meet. After Alex Dove’s farmer parents were killed there in a car accident when he was 11, he was brought up in England. Returning to Tasmania as an adult to close the farm down, he decides instead to stay. Merridy Bowman, in town to care for her dying father, is scarred by the unresolved mystery of her brother Hector’s disappearance when she was a child—an event which caused her to decide she would not allow herself to love again. But Alex’s courtship persuades her that love will come and she marries him. Initially happy, the couple starts to drift apart due to barrenness and the farm’s shaky finances, until Merridy saves the day by starting up a successful oyster business. One stormy night, Alex rescues a shipwrecked problem teenager, Kish, and the couple tames some of his violence, but when Merridy confuses him with Hector he smashes up their home. Then she falls pregnant and Alex thinks the baby is Kish’s. Separation follows, but Kish apologizes for the destruction and Alex chooses to accept and love the child as his own.

Although oddly paced and occasionally quirky, this is both a skillful, empathetic tale and an affectionate portrait of a place and its community.