Today I am delighted to be the next stop for Melissa Bailey’s new book, Beyond The Sea. Melissa Bailey grew up in Lancashire. She studied English Language and Literature at Oxford University, then moved to London to study law and practised as a media lawyer for a number of years. The Medici Mirror is her first novel. Her second novel, Beyond the Sea was published on the 16 th of July 2015.
Beyond The Sea is a great title for this book, not only does the sea play an important part in this beautifully written story, but I almost felt like the tide whilst reading it. The author through her writing lulled me into the book and it felt almost like she was gently swaying me back and forth between present day and parts of the past. The story gently goes along but builds up towards the end, which by the end it is like when the waves crash against the shore as all my emotions just came to a head.
The remote island that Freya lives on is very much brought to life and I could easily envision the house and surrounding area where she lives. I could imagine it being very beautiful on a lovely calm day or evening and how dangerous it could soon become just by the change of the weather.
The story itself is quite dark and melancholy due to the nature of the storyline. Freya is still trying to come to terms with the loss of her husband and son and I could very much feel her pain throughout. Saying that though it isn’t as an emotional read as I thought it would be. There is definitely a hint of something almost magical throughout the story especially through old fishermen stories.
Daniel who comes into Freya’s life is certainly an interesting character and was quite surprised with which way the author went with his character but in a good way as it certainly made the story less predictable. Freya’s character due to her situation was a character you will certainly have every empathy for and I think that through Freya it is the closest I have ever felt to understanding what it must be like to losing a husband and a child.
I very much enjoyed this story and will certainly be making a point to read the authors first book. I have to say that I especially loved the ending to this story it really was the icing on top of a truly beautiful story.
Many thanks to the author for an Advanced Readers Copy in exchange for an honest review. It is without a doubt a 5 star read for me.
I am delighted to be able to share with you the first chapter of this wonderful book.
The ferry ploughed across the Firth of Lorn, churning the still, grey waters beneath it. Waves crashed against the broad hull of the boat before sliding down, mingling with the foam and once more disappearing into the depths. Freya, standing upon the deck, head bent in concentration, had been watching this violent collision, this unceasing ebb and flow, for some time. The movement of the water was compelling, the hard smack then the retreat was like a lithe, endless dance. And the sound of the waves, harsh yet hypnotic, was so familiar to her despite her absence. She breathed in deeply and, sensing a shift in the air, looked up.
A storm was on its way. The signs of its approach were in the increasingly darkening sky, a flinty hardness massing around its edges and the hint of electricity in the air. But it was still some way off. Freya looked at her watch. It was only three o’clock but it looked much later. It also felt much more like winter than spring. But that was just it. The weather could change in these parts in an instant. Rain could be followed immediately by sunshine, sunshine by snow. You never knew what was coming.
Freya blinked hard and, to distract herself, surveyed the land. To her left, she could make out Duart Point, and before long she would be able to see the castle. Perched on a rocky outcrop, it guarded the entrance to the Sound of Mull. Behind it the hills rose steeply. Now they were green and brown, the result of a long, cold winter, but by the autumn they would be burnished rust, red and rose with the setting sun upon them. Dazzling in their beauty. She remembered the last time she had visited there. It had been with her son, Sam, just over a year and a half ago. She couldn’t take her eyes off the colours of the hills, but she knew without turning that he was staring out over the Firth, a dreamy look in his eye, far more interested in the sea and the wreck off the coast.
‘What was the name of that ship?’ she asked.
‘The Swan, Mum,’ he said, the slightest hint of impatience in his tone.
She smiled. ‘And when did it sink?’
‘During a storm. On the thirteenth of September, 1653.’ He was now, she knew, doing calculations in his head. Her heart constricted slightly. ‘Three hundred and sixty years ago.’
‘Hmm,’ she said. ‘Almost to the day. And when was it built?’
‘In 1641. It was a small warship, remember?’
She nodded, still looking northwards. ‘And who had sent it?’
‘Oliver Cromwell. To crush Royalist sympathies in the Highlands.’
Now she laughed. He sounded as if he were reciting from a history text book. Who knew whether he really understood what it meant.
‘What’s funny, Freya?’ He only ever called her Freya when he thought he was being patronised, mocked or derided in some slight, sly way he couldn’t quite understand.
‘Nothing, darling. That’s very good.’ But still she hadn’t turned to face him. Why hadn’t she? ‘And what did they find when they excavated the wreck?’
‘Silver coins, an anchor, flagons, seven iron cannons, a pocket watch, clay pipes, a sword hilt, leather shoes and human remains.’
She smiled at the way he pronounced ‘human remains.’ With the unique combination of diffidence and fear that perhaps only a nine-year-old could muster.
‘They only found the bones of one man, though.’
‘And what did they name him?’
‘Seaman Swan. He was only five feet tall but he had a really big chest like King Kong. His legs were bendy. From rickets.’
‘That’s right,’ said Freya, nodding. She had heard all of this before. But Sam found it endlessly fascinating.
‘I wonder what happened to all the other men,’ he said pensively. ‘And the cannons. Granddad said that the Swan had twelve to start off with.’ Her father-in-law, another shipwreck enthusiast, had taken Sam to the National Museum in Edinburgh to see the excavation finds.
‘Well, perhaps it did.’
‘But if it did, then what happened to the others?’
‘Maybe people took them.’
Sam contemplated this for a moment, as he always did, before dismissing it.
‘Or they disintegrated in the water.’
This met with a more favourable response, she could tell. Even though it still wasn’t quite right.
‘What do you think happened?’
‘The sea took them.’
Freya nodded. It was the most likely. That the sea had claimed them, as it seemed to claim most things in its path; taken them away to the Land under Waves.
The sound of metal grinding against metal then, as the anchor dropped, a whirring free fall before a hard smack against the surface of the water. Freya sat inside her car, waiting to leave, the clangour of iron ringing in her ears, imagining the anchor sinking into the silent, cold darkness. She had put on a hat and dark glasses, as she did not want to be recognised. She did not want to see it just yet, in the eyes of anyone she knew, how much she had changed, how very different she now looked. She did not want the sympathy or the attention of people just yet, did not want to hear their condolences for the loss of her husband and child. The horn sounded and the large iron doors began to slide apart. She turned on the ignition and waited, impatient, to exit.
Beyond The Sea is available to purchase from Amazon