Today is publication day for Beneath The Water, the latest novel by Sarah Painter! When I first heard about this book it stood out straight away as something I would like to read so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read it ahead of its publication day!
There were two things that intrigued me about Beneath The Water. The first was its setting with events taking place in a remote Scottish village – Scotland is one of my favourite places to visit so I am always drawn to books set here. The second was its premise, which promised a bit of a mystery surrounding a grand house, with secrets going back to the Victorian era. I always enjoy stories centred around such properties and the history that they contain so I was hooked by this story straight away. In it we meet Stella Jackson, a woman who has reached a difficult point in her life. Already dealing with the challenges associated with her health condition, she has recently been left devastated following her broken engagement. And so Stella leaves her old life behind for a new start, which brings her to the isolated village of Arisaig in rural Scotland, a seemingly perfect place to start over. But she soon discovers that life in Arisaig is not exactly what she expected, when she finds herself employed by Jamie Munro, a man who lives and works in the grand Munro house. And in the small community, it is a house that holds some difficult memories, and is the subject of speculation over what happened within those walls, and who was responsible. As the novel progresses we see Stella as she tries to settle into her new life, and battle her demons, whilst helping her new employer, who has demons of his own.
I got through this story pretty quickly as I was keen to find out more about the Munro’s history and whether there is truth to the rumours that surround his family. And Jamie is certainly an intriguing character, a reclusive man obsessed with his health who keeps himself enclosed within the confines of his home. In addition to the mystery surrounding Jamie, there is further intrigue surrounding a selection of letters that Stella locates within the house’s archives. These letters were written by a Victorian woman about her husband, a man who resembles Jamie Munro. I liked the inclusion of these letters and the way they were interspersed throughout the book, gradually building up a picture of a troubled and tragic past. However, on reaching the conclusion of this book there were some things left unresolved, and I was left to ponder what may have happened. I found this to be an enjoyable read and I liked the writing style. I particularly enjoyed the depiction of life in the village, and the way Painter has portrayed the small, claustrophobic community in which everyone knows everyone, and some people know more than they are letting on…
I really enjoyed Beneath The Water, a mysterious story in which the events of the past and the present become intertwined, in which we see a woman searching for new beginnings in a place still recovering from the past.
Beneath The Water by Sarah Painter was published on 8th February 2018 by Lake Union Publishing, with thanks to Emma Finnigan for providing a copy for review.