Friday 1 July 2022

Still Water by Rebecca Pert BLOG TOUR #StillWater @Rebecca_Pert @BoroughPress @fictionpubteam #BookReview @RandomTTours


A beautifully written atmospheric story of trauma, grief and redemption, Still Water is a debut from a bright new voice in literary fiction.

When Jane Douglas returns to the Shetland Islands, she thinks she has escaped the dark shadows of her childhood. She carves out a simple life on the bleak, windswept island, working at the salmon fishery and spending quiet evenings at home. And for the first time in her life, she’s happy.

Then the body of Jane’s long-missing mother is found in a flooded quarry. Her mother disappeared when Jane was a teenager, following the death of Jane’s baby brother. Jane has spent her life running from her past, living in fear that she has inherited her mother’s demons. Now, Jane must face what actually happened on that fateful, tragic day twenty years ago…

Still Water by Rebecca Pert was published on 23 June 2022 by The Borough Press. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour

I honestly don't know where to start on this review! This debut novel from Rebecca Pert has shot into my list of all time favourite books, my copy will take pride of place on my shelf and the story has haunted me ever since I turned the final page. 

It's beautiful and evocative, lyrical and gentle. Yet it is at times brutal and harsh, heartbreaking and unflinching. It is everything that I could wish for in a novel and the fact that this is the author's debut only makes it so much more special. 

Jane has retuned to live on Unst, an island in the Shetlands. She lives in a caravan that feels like a tin box, she spends her days at the local fish factory and her evenings with her boyfriend Mick. She keeps a close eye on her elderly neighbour Maggie and every single day, she is haunted by memories of her mother, and the appalling tragedy that happened when she was just a child. 

Jane's caravan is sited near to an old croft. Derelict, unloved, untouched for years. This is the croft in which Jane spent her younger years, with her father, mother and younger brother. The croft is a beacon of unhappiness for Jane. Full of memories of the happiest days in her life, followed by the darkest hours that have shaped her as an adult.

Jane has received news that a prosthetic arm has been found, floating in a quarry pit in Devon. Her mother had a prosthetic arm, and she disappeared many years ago. The plan is to drain the quarry, to look for the body of Sylvia and Jane finds is very difficult to deal with her feelings. 

Rebecca Pert's writing is beautiful, her depiction of Unst and the local community is spellbinding, with the weather and the countryside becoming characters in themselves. The story is cleverly told using a dual timeline, as Jane discovers her mother's diaries and entries from these are woven throughout the narrative, enabling both Jane, and the reader to gain such insight into Sylvia's life on Unst. 

There are many issues dealt with within this story, not least, the total paralysis that can be caused by motherhood, and the impact of this on children and partners. Sylvia's words are haunting as she describes her steady decline into a world numbed by medication and her feelings of paranoia, self loathing and inner terror as the world turns darker and darker. 

Jane's feelings towards her mother and what she did are also quite terrifying. Her dismay as she finds herself in a situation that she hadn't planned for is heartbreaking and the long-term effects of her grief and feeling of abandonment and loss are palpable. 

Still Water is breath taking in its style and structure. For me, there wasn't a word out of place. It is compelling, and produces a sense of dread that increases as the story progresses. 

An amazing book, one that will stay with me for a long time to come. I am looking forward to reading more from this extremely talented author. Bravo Rebecca Pert.

Rebecca Pert was born in 1990, the youngest of four siblings. 

She grew up in a small town in Devon before attending Cardiff University, where she received an MA in Creative Writing. 

Rebecca was the winner of the first Cheltenham Festival First Novel Competition in 2018. 

She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, son and dog. 

Still Water is Rebecca’s first novel.

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