A fascinating tale of obsessive love, hidden motivations and the endless resonance of guilt. Shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 1998.
On Smuttynose Island, off the coast of New Hampshire, more than a century ago, two Norwegian immigrant women were brutally murdered. A third woman survived by hiding in a cave until dawn. In 1995, Jean, a photographer, is sent on an assignment to shoot a photo essay about the legendary crime. Taking her extended family with her, Jean stays in a sailboat anchored off the coast, and finds herself gradually becoming more and more engrossed in the bay's mysterious and gruesome past. Wandering into a library one day, she unearths letters written by Maren, the sole survivor of the murder spree. Jean's fear of losing all that she cares about is reflected in Maren's poignant tale of love and loss, and her obsession with the ancient story drives her to wild impulsive action -- with unrecoverable consequences.
Compelling and beautifully written . . . the strength of the book lies in the exquisite handling of the metaphor of the sea - constant but shifting, all surface but all depth: and in particular the dangerous emotional currents that in both stories collide forcibly to make disaster inevitable Lynne Truss, THE TIMES
'Enthralling an object lesson in how to unravel a complicated plot' - Anita Brookner
'Rich, sensual prose subtle and disturbing' - Rosellen Brown
'Shortlisted for the Orange Prize, this is a beautifully crafted novel that explores the way in which we tell stories to try and relieve the weight of the past.' SUNDAY TIMES
'This is a beautifully-written portrayal of sexual jealousy and the endless ways in which past emotions continue to reverberate, as though feelings were ghosts.' NEW WOMAN
'[An] eerie and haunting novel.' WOMAN AND HOME
'An accomplished and intense psychological thriller.' OPTIONS
'Her prose is controlled and luminous.' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH