Thursday 31 March 2022

Hidden Depths by Araminta Hall #HiddenDepths @AramintaHall @orionbooks @FrancescaPear #BookReview


Lily is pregnant, travelling onboard the Titanic to her beloved family in the United States, hoping she can get there before her mind and body give up.

For a long time now she's known her husband is not the man he's pretending to be and she's not safe.

So, when she meets widower Lawrence she knows he's her last chance for help.

Or Prisoner...
But Lawrence knows he hasn't got time to save Lily.

Lawrence is the only person on board the unsinkable ship who knows he will not disembark in New York.

And the danger is much worse than either of them could imagine.

Can Lily and Lawrence help each other to safety before it's too late?

Hidden Depths by Araminta Hall is published by Orion on 31 March 2022. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

Araminta Hall's previous novel; Imperfect Women, was one of my top books of 2020. I was thrilled to receive an early copy of Hidden Depths from the publisher. Whilst, this is a completely different style to her earlier books, it is another wonderful read. Engrossing and filled with history, a story that driven by the most immaculately created characters, in a setting that will be familiar to every reader, yet is so different to how one would imagine. 

The story is set on the Titanic, but it is not about the Titantic. The imposing, beautiful, 'unsinkable' ship is merely the vessel for a tale that is compelling and enticing. Despite the fact that every reader will know the inevitable ending for the ship, this does not consume the story in any way. In fact, towards the end, I was so caught up with Lawrence and Lily that I'd forgotten what was to come.

Lily and Lawrence are two people who would probably never have met on land. Lawrence is recently widowed, his beloved wife Cissy was the absolute love of his life and he can see no future without her. Despite the fact that he has a small son, Lawrence had made the decision to end his life. He is not expecting to dock in New York, he looks forward to escaping his feelings; the sorrow, anguish, guilt and anger that he experiences when he thinks about Cissy.

Lily is pregnant. She's American, married to a cruel and unkind man who married her for her money, and to produce an heir. She is travelling, with him, and her maid and personal doctor to give birth near to her family. 

Lily is a distressed and distressing character. Her marriage is clearly a sham, she feels unloved and unwanted. She is made to appear stupid and weak by her overbearing husband. However, it is the regular medical examinations and the strange tasting tea that really alert the reader.

Araminta Hall does a lot of character building in the first 100 pages of her novel. The reader comes to know Lawrence and Lily so well, being privy to their innermost thoughts. Through Lawrence's memories, the reader also learns about his late wife Cissy; a woman who defied her upbringing to marry Lawrence and who made it her mission to ensure that women's voices were heard.  Although Cissy is dead before the story begins, her character forms the story so much. Her lasting influence on Lawrence impacts Lily too and despite the odds, she too becomes stronger and more aware of exactly what is happening to her. 

With a strong message about the treatment of women, and the slow and subtle changes made by those who supported the Suffrage movement, along with the finest and most beautiful historical detail about the iconic Titanic, this is a novel of great beauty and great depth. It is a study in relationships and attitude, a look at the higher classes and the treatment of those who were perceived to be weaker and less important. 

Elegant and moving, with a solid and important message, Hidden Depths is rich and consuming. Do be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the book which explain the background to this story. Lawrence is in fact based upon her great grandfather, and what a man he was.  He left such a legacy for his family and we are lucky that this author was able to include his story into this beautiful novel. 

Araminta Hall has worked as a writer, journalist and teacher. 

Her first novel, Everything & Nothing, was published in 2011 and became a Richard & Judy read that year. 
Her second, Dot, was published in 2013, and her third, Our Kind of Cruelty, in 2018. 
She has taught creative writing for many years at a variety of places, including New Writing South in Brighton, where she lives with her husband and three children. 

Contact Araminta on Twitter at @AramintaHall

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