Monday 22 October 2018

A Discovering Diamonds review of The Tides Between by Elizabeth Jane Corbett

Family Drama /Nautical
Emigration to Australia

“In 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 fairy tales 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 fairy tales, little expecting the trouble it will cause.”

The plot of this expertly-written novel begins and then builds upon the matter of secrets and whether to trust or not. The Tides Between could be mistaken, at first, for a romance or a fantasy novel, but it is neither, it is a drama with supernatural elements added in for good measure.

With the narrative taking place aboard ship – the Lady Sophia bound for Port Philip near Melbourne – during the long passage from England to Australia the author has portrayed a very good depiction of life at sea for the emigrants, the long dull days when only story-telling can relieve the monotony of struggling to stay alive at steerage (low-cost) level. Fifteen-year-old Bridie, her step-father and pregnant mother are to meet others who also hope for a better, new, life on a far distant shore. Welsh Rhys and Sian also have their own hopes, fears and secrets and their friendship grows with Bridie when they realise their joint love of storytelling – especially for the old, Welsh tales.

I must confess that I struggled with the Welsh language passages and the myths, personally, I found the Welsh a little overdone – but for lovers (and speakers!) of Welsh and the old tales of Wales this would be a very readable novel. I believe the novel is aimed at Young Readers – would non-Welsh speaking thirteen to fifteen-year-olds be patient enough with the Welsh content I wonder?

Having said that, it was easy enough to skip the Welsh bits and enjoy the other parts of the story for its passion, delightful characters  and feel of authenticity.

© Ellen Hill

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