Apr 9, 2014
Review: A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke
When Eva Bowe's husband of only eight months is killed in a fishing accident in Dorset, she wants desperately to connect with Jackson's father and brother, who live on a southern island of Australia. Shortly after arriving at his father, Dirk's house, things seem a bit off to Eva. Dirk appears very uncomfortable having Eva there and after a few drinks of whiskey, his harsh words flow more freely and he tells her it would be best if she left. Feeling shunned but still determined to find out what Jackson's life was like before going to England, she sets out to track down his brother, Saul. She finds him on a fishing dock and he is no friendlier than Dirk. She knew the brothers had a falling out and hadn't spoken in a few years but she still held out hope that they could at least get to know each other.
Reluctantly, Saul offers Eva a place to stay for a few days, hoping that after that she will go back to London so they can all move on but he's worried that the longer she stays, people who knew Jackson will start asking who she is and he doesn't want to have to lie.
She and Saul start to get to know each other and even enjoy some time fishing and diving, but with every day, Eva discovers more lies and before long she doesn't know who to trust. Jackson had told her once that Saul was a liar and couldn't be trusted but Eva begins to wonder if Jackson was the liar. To complicate matters, while she begins to feel deceived by Jackson, she is growing closer to Saul, but how can she trust Saul when she can't even trust her own instincts?
Through many twists and turns, Eva confronts the people in Jackson's life and even when she thinks she finally has the answers, she is hit with another blow. Not only does she doubt everything she thought she knew about her husband, she doubts her very life. She wonders if it was all just a big lie or did Jackson really love her and have legitimate reasons for his secrets.
After reading Clarke's debut novel, SWIMMING AT NIGHT last year and really enjoying it, I was looking forward to her new book. As with her first book, Clarke doesn't waste time getting right into the story and that continues throughout the book. I instantly liked Eva and felt terribly for her and what she was going through. She's a very likable character, so I shared her feelings of betrayal each time she discovered another lie. There are so many plot twists in this book that kept me riveted and raised new questions. I've read other books with a lot of twists and turns that made me feel jerked around, but I didn't feel like that with this book. Clarke did a terrific job of weaving an intricate, complex story of love, loss, betrayal and hope. It all worked perfectly, in my opinion.
Another thing this book has in common with her first book is the amazing Australian locale. Though she doesn't go overboard with description, Clarke sets the scenes so vividly you feel like you're right there with them. I especially loved when Eva and Saul would go free diving and experience all the tropical fish and colorful reefs. I could see it all in my mind and it had me wishing I lived beach side. Its quite evident in her writing that she loves the sea and surrounding land and that she enjoys sharing it in her books. You can sense the gunuine affection she has for that life. In this book, the sea and landscape actually becomes a character of its own.
A SINGLE BREATH was such a pleasure to read and has made me see that Lucy Clarke is a true talent. Its very easy for me to say this book is one of my favorites this year. As you can tell, I am a big fan and will always be on the lookout for her new books. Her writing is fresh, her stories captivating and beautifully written, which is why I will be recommending her books to my friends.
A SINGLE BREATH
Author: Lucy Clarke (@lucyclarkebooks); on Facebook
Published: April 8, 2014
Length: 385 pp