Friday 21 March 2014


Book review: A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke

My edition: Paperback (proof), to be published on 27th March 2014 by Harper, 416 pages.

Description: The deeper the water, the darker the secrets.

There were so many times I thought about telling you the truth, Eva. What stopped me was always the same thing...

When Eva's husband Jackson tragically drowns, she longs to meet his estranged family. The journey takes her to Jackson’s brother's doorstep on a remote Tasmanian island. As strange details about her husband's past begin to emerge, memories of the man she married start slipping through her fingers like sand, as everything she ever knew and loved about him is thrown into question.

Now she's no longer sure whether it was Jackson she fell in love with – or someone else entirely...

The truth is, it was all a lie.


Lucy Clarke's debut novel The Sea Sisters was one of my favourite reads of 2013 - highly engrossing and filled with complicated family dynamics, exotic locations and a good dose of intrigue, it made for a perfect addition to my summer reading list (read my full review here). It was also a memorable novel and one that I have been recommending extensively to my friends since. So when I heard about Lucy's newest novel I couldn't get my hands on a copy quick enough!

Once more the story is set in a foreign location, Tasmania this time around. This was particularly fascinating and exciting for me as I spent a few weeks on a road trip across the island as part of a wider Australia trip and so it was wonderful to get the chance to return to this beautiful and lush location without having to dig deep into my pockets the funds to buy a plane ticket. Plus I could see if Lucy would do a place I had actually been to (opposed to the mostly foreign to me locations in The Sea Sisters) justice on paper and she most certainly did.

This is the story of a young British woman called Eva. She loses her husband Jackson in a tragic accident and in an attempt to find closure she impulsively books a flight to Australia to connect to her late husband's estranged family and to get the chance to explore the place he grew up. They'd only been married for a short while and she knew little of his life back in Tasmania, but what Eva hadn't expected was that on her journey she would discover that she didn't really know her husband at all.

Almost each chapter there is new shocking revelation, putting everything Eva thought she knew about Jackson in a new and more sinister perspective. As she tries to cope with this adjusted view of the man she loved so intensively - even if it was for only a short period of time - she finds a great support in her quiet brother-in-law, Saul. She inevitably grows closer to him, but struggling to make sense of her already confused feelings she's unsure if she really likes him for him, or because in so many ways he reminds her of what she loved about her husband.

What makes this novel even more intriguing from a reader's point of view is that somewhere along the line it changes from a beautiful and poignant story about love and loss, into a riveting psychological thriller along the likes of Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep - keeping the reader on the edge of their seat for the remainder of the novel. It becomes a fast-paced page-turner, which makes it impossible to put the book down as you simply have to know what happens next, even if it means forgoing some much-needed sleep (trust me, I know...).

Lucy Clarke cleverly balances her engrossing thriller with rich descriptions of the lush Tasmanian landscape, transporting the reader from the miserable grey British spring weather to warmer climates where the days are spend fishing and floating in the water to watch the magical world that's hiding just underneath the surface. It's those few relaxing moments in which both Eva and the reader get the chance to reflect on the revelations thus far and connect the translucent flaws in Jackson's backstory which had been there all along.

A Single Breath's layered story remains unpredictable until the last page, making it very gripping indeed. Add to that the rich descriptions of Tasmania (which have me yearn to return to the island) and you've got a beautifully written and engrossing read from start to finish.

You can pre-order a copy of the novel from Waterstones,, or your own preferred retailer.

Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:



Twitter: @lucyclarkebooks

Many thanks to the publisher for an advance copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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