This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Jennifer Joyce
Elizabeth is devastated when she discovers her husband has drowned while saving the life of a local girl. She is overwhelmed by the sorrow of losing Michael and the life they should have had together, but she cannot grieve properly when rumours begin to circulate around town about his heroism. Elizabeth’s life is in tatters and now it seems she can’t even cherish the memories she has of Michael and their marriage.
Before starting Surrounded By Water, I was expecting a fast-pace read full of intrigue and fireworks, but the book was a much gentler read, softly sweeping us through Elizabeth’s tale as she attempts to come to terms with losing her husband so unexpectedly. We see the anguish and confusion of those affected by Michael’s death; Elizabeth and his mother, Patricia, Michael’s closest friends and Kate, the girl whose life Michael saved. The grief spilling from the pages was so real that it could be quite heart-breaking at times and there were some definite lump-in-throat moments. I couldn’t help feeling for Elizabeth as she pours her heart out in letters to Michael, knowing there is further devastation around the corner for her.
My favourite character in the book was Elizabeth’s sister, Mel, who travels from Australia to be with her sister and tries to put her back together again. She’s a tough, fiercely loyal character and I really warmed to her, especially as she added some welcome light relief at times. I also liked Kate’s mother, Richenda who, although also loyal, is also fair when needed.
Elizabeth and Kate’s families don’t know each other, but they are connected by Michael’s death and it was interesting to see the different kinds of grief his death created. First we have Elizabeth who has lost her husband and can’t see a future for herself that is anything but bleak, then we have Patricia who has lost her only son and finally Kate, the survivor of the tragic accident. We see their stories unfold through the present day narrative, as well as through Elizabeth’s letters to Michael and flashbacks of their lives. Nobody seems to the know the full story of what happened the night Michael died, but we begin to slowly build up a picture of the events leading up to that night and Michael’s secrets are finally unearthed.
I enjoyed reading Surrounded By Water, despite it being quite a heavy read with such raw grief throughout, and thought it was an extremely well-written debut.