EIGHT years ago, the lives of Eliza and her mother, Edith, were torn apart by a savage rape. Now, the perpetrator, Eliza’s half-brother Marcus, is out of prison and heading home to the house that they shared.
Eliza hears the news as she gets off the bus on the Isle of Skye, and suddenly the trip she has dreamed of for twenty years loses its savour. She has given up on life and God, and leads a death in life between her bedsit and her library job, abandoning the poetry that she used to write. But God has not forgotten her. She lifts her eyes unto the hills and starts to feel a connection with someone or something, and the words start to flow.
There is human warmth, too, in the shape of the friendly group running the Skye Half Marathon. She meets Pete, who started running after the death of his beloved wife from cancer, and begins to thaw in the face of his uncomplicated friendliness.
This is a very cheering book, with its message that healing is always possible, even if it takes a long time. The writer’s own deep love for the island shines from the page, and carries the reader into the landscape. She is good at different voices — each character has his or her own.
At times, the author has a lovely turn of phrase. I particularly liked the image of the past receding briefy from the shore of the present, leaving pools of possibilities to be explored. She avoids the cliché of an obvious romance, but suggests that the characters’ friendship will continue to develop beyond the last page. And the villain gets his comeuppance in an unexpected and very satisfying way.
It’s a very promising first novella. I look forward to seeing the author’s gifts displayed in something longer.
Fiona Hook is a writer and EFL teacher.
Out of the Mist