Review of In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings
For a tale featuring mermaids, babies and the Cornish coast, this is not a pretty book. Rather, it is hewn from the tough granite of human experience. Look carefully at the unforgiving face of granite, though – and you will find little veins of quartz in there – compacted by unimaginable forces into shafts of rock-light. There are many such veins in Amanda’s book. In amongst the ugliness of what human beings can do to each other you will find flashes of goodness. Like the veins of quartz, they are simple things- but they transform all that is about them.
The plot of Amanda’s book will keep you reading, without a doubt. Not only that, but her ability to place past and present, reality and imagination so close that each can be seen from the other separated as if by a thin veil is genius. In the end, though, it is the characters in this book which will make me read it again. There are no utterly bad people and no utterly good people in this book. There are good people who do bad things and bad people who lean towards good things. Like the coastline full of contrasts where the story is set – strength and fragility; altruism and selfishness sit side by side. I could not do the job I do every day without believing that this were so.
Read the book because you want to be distracted, by all means. Read the book because you want to relish its twists and turns, highs and lows like a roller coaster. Read it, in the end, though – because you are a human being cut from granite with little flecks of quartz. You will not be disappointed.