The Tides Between
by Elizabeth Jane Corbett
Publication Date: October 20, 2017
Paperback; 300 Pages
Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Historical
She fancied herself part of a timeless chain without beginning or end, linked only by the silver strong words of its tellers.
In the year 1841, on the eve of her departure from London, Bridie’s mother demands she forget her dead father and prepare for a sensible, adult life in Port Phillip. Desperate to save her childhood, fifteen-year-old Bridie is determined to smuggle a notebook filled with her father’s fairytales to the far side of the world.
When Rhys Bevan, a soft-voiced young storyteller and fellow traveller realises Bridie is hiding something, a magical friendship is born. But Rhys has his own secrets and the words written in Bridie’s notebook carry a dark double meaning.
As they inch towards their destination, Rhys’s past returns to haunt him. Bridie grapples with the implications of her dad’s final message. The pair take refuge in fairytales, little expecting the trouble it will cause.
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Things are changing quickly for 15 year old Bridie. Her beloved father has died, her mother quickly remarried their border, Alf Bustle and is pregnant. Now, Alf has decided to move the family from their London home halfway across the world for more opportunities in Australia. Bridie’s mother and Alf are hoping that the voyage and leaving London will help Bridie forget her father, move on and grow up. However Bridie Refuses to give up the memory of her father, especially his stories which is why Bridie defies her mother and brings his storybook along. The voyage on the Lady Sophia is dangerous, lengthy and difficult for all the passengers, particularly the pregnant ones. Bridie quickly makes friends with a Welsh couple, Rhys and Sian. Rhys seems to have a secret or two himself and is also a storyteller. Sian has a mystery about her and is about as far along as Bridie’s mother. The ship’s surgeon wants a clean and uneventful journey, but as the voyage is prolonged it seems that a story is just what everyone on board needs.
Bridie’s journey is one of self-discovery, growth and sadness. Something that struck me between the changing narratives of Bridie and Rhys was the many reasons that people leave the place that they have always called home, whether it is new opportunity, new identity, or a new beginning, they are willing to look for these things in a place that they have never known. With the exception of the very beginning and very end, the entire story takes place on a ship. For a ship in 1841, I was amazed at the process taken to keep things clean and free of disease, though it didn't always work, as well as the monotony of life on a ship. I found Bridie's character very easy to relate to, I loved that she held onto the stories of her father and loved him unconditionally, despite her mother's wishes. I especially felt for her when she came into womanhood among the cramped, public conditions onboard the Lady Sophia. I enjoyed watching her evolve through her friendship with Rhys and Sian and their own stories. I got caught up myself in the Welsh stories and the unique way they were told through Rhys and Sian, I could imagine their vivacious performances. Through their stories, the storytellers offer healing and acceptance to themselves and others. What touched me most of all was how everyone onboard seemed deeply touched by secrets and sadness while continuing on with their lives, and the impact of a single story.
This book was provided for free in return for an honest review.
When Elizabeth Jane Corbett isn’t writing, she works as a librarian, teaches Welsh at the Melbourne Celtic Club, writes reviews and articles for the Historical Novel Society and blogs at elizabethjanecorbett.com. In 2009, her short-story, Beyond the Blackout Curtain, won the Bristol Short Story Prize. Another, Silent Night, was short listed for the Allan Marshall Short Story Award. An early draft of her debut novel, The Tides Between, was shortlisted for a HarperCollins Varuna manuscript development award.
Elizabeth lives with her husband, Andrew, in a renovated timber cottage in Melbourne’s inner-north. She likes red shoes, dark chocolate, commuter cycling, and reading quirky, character driven novels set once-upon-a-time in lands far, far away.
For more information, please visit Elizabeth Jane Corbett’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Goodreads.