My edition: Paperback (proof), published on 27 August 2015 by Headline Review, 422 pages.
Description: In a remote Cornish cove, on one of the last days of summer, Robyn Swinton is drowning.
She is saved - just - by local boy Jago Winters, and it is a moment that will change both of them forever.
Over the next seven years, Robyn and Jago's paths lead them in different directions, to city streets and foreign shores.
Will the bond forged that day Jago dragged Robyn in from the sea be strong enough to bring them back to one another, or has life already pulled them too far apart?
There are very few contemporary authors who have such a beautiful, atmospheric way of storytelling that they manage to transport me with their writing to far and exotic places (or locations not quite as distant, but still feeling equally exciting and intriguing through the way they're depicted on paper); Lucy Clarke (The Sea Sisters, A Single Breath, The Blue) is one of them and Emylia Hall is the other. I first discovered Emylia's wonderful novels back in 2012 when I reviewed her debut, The Book of Summers, for RealReaders and I've been a firm fan of her since. She followed this up with the poignant A Heart Bent Out of Shape in 2013 and I was thrilled when I saw a new book by her hand was coming out this year: The Sea Between Us.
When Robyn moves with her parents to Merrin, Cornwall, she's aching to leave the remote place before she has even truly arrived. She's gearing up to go to university so Merrin was only ever meant to be a blip in her life, but when on her second day in Cornwall she meets the boy-next-door, Jago, something fundamental changes within Robyn. She doesn't immediately realise this but as the years go by and Jago and Robyn walk in and out of each other's lives, the brief moments they spentdtogether are mutually treasured.
However, due to an accumulation of bad luck and poor communication, neither of them know just how important they are to one another until it is too late and Robyn meets another man to share her life with and start a family with. Yet despite being settled in London, Merrin keeps luring her back and Robyn has to make a difficult decision between the life she thought she always wanted and the one that slowly but gradually seeped into every pore of her body until it would not let her go.
Emylia Hall's writing embodies an incredible sense of place, whether the story is set in Hungary, Switzerland or, in the case of The Sea Between Us, Cornwall. To a lot of British people a Cornish setting might not sound as romantic or exciting as the sizzling heat of a faraway and exotic place, yet her descriptions are filled with such a warmth and affection for the fictional town of Merrin, that as a reader you will find yourself longing to spend time in such a stunning and under-appreciated part of the country.
It's a place where time moves at a much lower pace than in the hustle and bustle of a big city such as London, and this is reflected in each of the moments within the book set in Merrin. The story in those places is equally languid and as a reader you can relish the rare beautiful scenes between Robyn and Jago in their early years as they get to know each other. They were never just neighbours, but despite the palpable chemistry between the two main characters, there wasn't a definition in the traditional sense to what their relationship actually was. Their connection may have been obvious from an outsider's point of view but it was never for them and that created a dynamic that was simultaneously frustrating and incredibly exciting.
The Sea Between Us is an intensely atmospheric novel that will captivate readers with its lush descriptions of Cornwall and the equally beautiful story of Robyn and Jago, which is rooted in that special little place along the coast.
You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.
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Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of the novel through Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.