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Thursday, 11 April 2013

James MacManus - On The Broken Shore

reviewed live on bookshow by Babs Simpson 21st March 2013.
The cover of this book carries the words "have you ever just wanted to disappear?" and this is exactly what happens but in a most extraordinary and unexpected way.
Leo Kemp has a job that he loves and the Institute of Marine Biology and lives on Cape Cod with his wife and daughter.  But his seemingly idyllic life is marred by tragedy and the family are troubled.  Then Leo loses his job after criticising the Institute for their complicity in the destruction of fishing grounds whilst hypocritically preaching about the sanctity of the environment.
He decides to take his students on one last field trip out into the ocean but is swept overboard when the waves rise.  Despite everyones best and frantic efforts, Leo is missing, presumed dead, like his young son a few years before.
Inf act, Leo isn't dead.  A strong swimmer he reaches shore without being observed and has the mad thought that perhaps he can survive alone.
Then rumours begin to circulate amongst the maritime community on Cape Cod that a man has been sighted on an offshore island and eventually, after some weeks, Leo is found and returns to a much changed life.
This is a beautifully imagined story and what I found especially fascinating was Leos intention with the seal colonies that flourish along East Coast America.  The author has obviously done loads of research on the subject and to anyone who lives close to seals, it makes for very interesting reading.  His descriptions of the coastline, the weather and the ever-changing sea are lovely, the story well written, even if populated with slightly formulaic characters.  I enjoyed the experience, a most interesting concept that makes for a good read.

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