Publishing year: 2014
The prologue is told from the perspective of Eva, a seventeen-year-old girl, who was sailing with her dad when a storm made the boat capsize. Eva’s voice tells us that she died, and her soul hovered over her body which the sea has washed up on a beach. Then a man appears who gives her the kiss of life, and Eva returns to life, but as the man wraps his arms around her, he tells her that she is now his as life has brought her to him.
Later in other chapters we learn that Eva is kept a prisoner on an island, which is deserted, as it is a military zone. Billy, his captor, has her in a pagoda, and it is three months she has been there. Billy used to be in the army, and it is clear that he is as mad as a hatter.
The novel moves between different perspectives. Another voice is that of her sister Faith, who is ten years old. Faith is a sweet, peculiar girl. Unlike her sister, she is afraid of the sea. When she was five, the boat on which she and her family were capsized, and since then she is afraid of the sea. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t come close to the sea. Actually, when her sister takes one of their father’s boats, Faith is often with her, and they sometimes go to the island where now Eva is kept a prisoner. Everybody now believes that Eva is dead, but Faith, who is a very imaginative girl who believes in selkies and the wildman, thinks that it is the wildman who is keeping Eva on the island, which is true. Yet, nobody believes her. I really like Faith. Through Faith we learn more about Eva and her peculiarities. Eva is the kind of girl who boys love, but lately Eva only thinks of Marco, a boy who she likes but keeps secret as she knows that her parents won’t approve. The only one who she has told is Faith. Eva is also quite rebellious, and from some opinions we have heard in the novel, she has always had a difficult relationship with her father even though we first get the impression that Eva and her dad have so much in common.
From some of Eva’s thoughts we get the impression that there is a secret about the two sisters’ parents. Eva mentions a row she had with her father, and she learnt something that made her world change overnight. I wonder if maybe Eva is adopted. Clara, their mother, calls Faith their miracle baby, and maybe Faith came when neither Clara nor Max, her husband, thought they could have a child. Maybe they had been told they couldn’t have children, and they adopted Eva.
We also hear Max’s and Clara’s voices. Clara is really upset and shattered since her daughter went missing at sea. She and Max believe that Eva drowned, and Clara blames her husband for their daughter’s death. The coastguard found Eva’s life jacket floating, which we learn Billy dropped to convince the authorities that Eva had drowned. Yet, Clara thinks that it is Max’s fault that Eva wasn’t wearing the life jacket. I feel sorry for this family, especially little Faith, who nobody understands or believes. Clara knows she is neglecting her younger daughter, but she can’t help himself because she is hurting too much. Max is trying to help his wife, but it is difficult. At Max’s insistence an au pair has been hired to help her with Faith, but the au pair, Sophie, is not much help and has little interest in her young charge.
The beginning of the book is so gripping. The author’s two previous books I have read were wonderfully captivating, and this one, I’m sure, won’t disappoint me either. I wonder how this will pan out. Will Eva be rescue, or will many years pass before the girl can leave her captivity?