More personal news, another book review!

Personal: I’ve now learned that my one-act play Bequest will be performed by Chapel Players in the Playhouse, Chapel-en-le-Frith from 7.30 p.m. on June 10th and 11th and June 17th and 18th. It will be one of three short plays in each performance. One of the others will be an Alan Ayckbourn classic… what an alarming juxtaposition! But I’m delighted to know that my play will have another airing. In fact, four airings.

Review: I reviewed Blue Tide Rising by Clare Stevens a few months ago and was struck by the beautifullyconstructed character arc of the narrator-protagonist, Amy Blue.
Amy is a young woman with a damaged past and, when the story opens in a Manchester slum, a damaged present. Ms Stevens gives us a vivid picture of that environment – squalid, hopeless, potentially dangerous, but with residents showing a measure of care for each other – and Amy’s appalling mental condition. Then into Amy’s drug-impaired consciousness steps a mysterious young man who comes and goes inexplicably and knows far more about her than anyone ought. This visitor elicits her back-story and launches her into a prospective new life on a seaside farm, Môr Tawel, in Anglesea, home of the tragedy-afflicted and partially fragmented Lloyd family.

As Amy becomes increasingly absorbed into her farming, gardening and camp-supervising work at Môr Tawel and into the family, she starts to come to terms with her own distressing past and begins to heal mentally. A significant part of this positive development comes from her burgeoning but initially secret relationship with the Lloyds’ mostly-absent son, Adam. But there’s a price to pay: the guardian spirit whose influence took her from slum to far, hopelessness to hope, wants her to do something in return: to discover the truth about a death years earlier that was a major part of the Lloyds’ tragedy.

Blue Tide Rising is a highly readable, original and well-constructed story with a sympathetic protagonist and a pleasing blending of genres (romance, ghost story, crime story…), unusually accomplished for a debut novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My negative comments are minor: perhaps it could have been trimmed a little – it’s quite a long book – and although Ms Stevens proved herself accomplished in building up tension, she often allowed it to dissipate too rapidly, so the reader doesn’t have a prolonged edge-of-the-seat experience.

That’s nit-picking. Let’s just say that if I see another novel by Clare Stevens, I’ll want to read it.

Clare Stevens, Blue Tide Rising, Inspired Quill, 2019; ASIN B07Q2D5FMQ

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