Writer: Caryl Lewis
Publishing House:Random House UK
Date of Publication: April 21st 2022
Rating: 5 stars
‘’A ripple. A disturbance on the sea that didn’t settle. Something that couldn’t be let go, and the warmth of the sun would magnify it into wind. And the wind would worry it until the weaves and the swell would make the whole world feel as if it were moving. And its approach would be imperceptible at first. The tone of the breeze would change. A sound under a sound. A strange insistence. The rattle of the glass cabinets in the cottage. The disappearance of the birds. The deadening of the sea as the weight of the storm rilled in, a deep disconcerting inhalation of the sky…’’
Hamza, a Syrian refugee detained in a military camp, finds himself stranded and wounded within the boundaries of a small community. Nefyn, a young woman as tender as a mother and as secretive as the sea, nurses him back to health in the house she shares with her brother, Joseph. With the help of Efa and Emrys, an elderly couple who protects the siblings, Hamza will chase the chance to a new life and Nefyn will try to heal the wounds of the past.
There are so many things I could write about Caryl Lewis’s beautiful novel but they would sound simplistic, empty. You need to read it to experience its beauty, its depth, its sadness. To see how the myths of the selkies and the legend of the goddess Atargatis are wed to a love against the world and a firm need to fulfil your destiny. To witness how Folklore dances along with issues that concern us all: racism, cruelty, loss, the daily struggle to survive. To walk with a man who tries not to forget his roots, a brother whose shoulders have been carrying a heavy burden, a wife who protects the children entrusted to her and her husband who struggles to meet his end with dignity. But more importantly, this is the story of a woman who refuses to obey and the ‘’Other’’ who refuses to comply.
I could write paragraphs after paragraphs about the beauty of the writing, the strength of the characters, the mesmerising allure of the dialogue but I won’t. Read this novel. That’s all I can tell you.
A moving, haunting modern fable of immense beauty and one of the finest books of the year.
‘’My father was from the land, my mother from the sea. Do you see? I’m trapped.’’
Many thanks to Random House UK and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.