I absolutely loved Noelle Harrison’s The Island Girls which made my top reads list last year (review here). So I was really pleased to have the chance to read her latest book, The Boatman’s Wife. Thanks to Noelle Holton at Bookouture for having me as part of the tour and for the review ecopy. The book is available now for e-readers or in paperback and audiobook versions – you’ll find buying links below.
The Boatman’s Wife is a compelling story from Noelle Harrison taking the reader from the fishing communities of Maine to Mullaghmore in the west coast of Ireland. As well as being set in two places, the story also unfolds over two different times, something I always enjoy in a book. In the present day story in Maine, Lily is devastated by the death of her Irish husband Connor in a tragic accident at sea. While trying to find out how to contact his family in Ireland, she discovers a threatening email to Connor warning him never to return to Ireland. She realises that he has been keeping secrets from her and to find out just what those secrets were, she decides to travel to Ireland. In 1990s Ireland, young Niamh has fallen for handsome American visitor Jesse who is working in the local boatyard for the summer. This does not go down well with her cousin Brendan, as both he and Niamh have secrets of their own.
I really enjoyed the dual timeline aspect of the story and seeing how both these strong female characters developed over the course of their individual stories. Niamh was particularly interesting with her involvement in the complicated political situation in the Ireland at the time, a situation she wanted to get out of, but it wasn’t all that easy and put herself and her family in great danger. Noelle Harrison wrote so movingly of the grief experienced by Lily following the death of her young husband and of her conviction that he couldn’t possibly be any different from the kind and gentle soul she knew him to be. The alternating perspectives made this a really compelling read and I finished each chapter wanting to know more but also keen to move on and find out what was happening to the other woman. I was intrigued to know not only what Connor’s secret was but also in what way the two stories were connected. The way Noelle Harrison brought the two together was poignant and uplifting.
The Boatman’s Wife is a captivating story of loss and secrets in two very different but beautiful settings. It is also a hopeful story of reconciliation and moving on. The Boatman’s Wife is another compelling and emotional read from Noelle Harrison.
From the back of the book
There was some dark secret in this western edge of Ireland that her husband never wanted her to find out. She might never be able to lay his body to rest, but she could gain some kind of closure by finding out who the man she married was.
When Lily married her soulmate Connor, buffeted by the sea spray and wild winds of her coastal homeland in Maine, she never imagined she’d be planning his memorial just three years later. Connor has been lost at sea in the bleak stormy Atlantic, leaving Lily heartbroken.
But as she prepares to say goodbye to Connor for the last time, she is shocked to discover a message to him that he never told her about:
Does your wife know who you really are, Connor Fitzgerald? Don’t ever think you can come home. Because if you do, I swear I’ll kill you.
Unable to bear living in the home she and Connor shared, Lily decides to find out her husband’s secret. She flies to Connor’s home town of Mullaghmore on the west coast of Ireland, a harbour town hugged by golden beaches and emerald-green fields. But when doors are slammed in her face, she begins to realise that she knows nothing about her husband’s past.
Connor’s grandmother, a hermit living on the cliffs of the wild Atlantic, must know the truth about her grandson. But when Lily tries to find her, threatening notes are pushed through her door warning her not to stay. Will Lily leave the darkness of the past where it belongs? Or will she risk everything to find out the truth about the man she married…
A completely heart-breaking story about the lies we tell to protect the ones we love. Fans of The Light Between Oceans, Lisa Wingate and Susanne O’Leary will lose their hearts to The Boatman’s Wife.
About the Author
I’m an Irish author who’s been writing novels and plays for nearly thirty years. My first novel, Beatrice was published in August 2004 which was a bestseller in Ireland. This was followed by A Small Part Of me in 2005, I Remember in 2008, The Adulteress in 2010, The Secret Loves of Julia in 2012, The Gravity of Love in 2018, and The Island Girls in 2020.
My books have been published in over 12 different countries.
I am also published under the pen name Evie Blake and my Valentina Trilogy hit the Der Spiegel Bestseller List in 2013.
In 2014 I was one of 56 Irish Writers included in the anthology and exhibition Lines of Vision Irish Writers on Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, and published by Thames & Hudson.
I have also written five plays – Northern Landscapes, Black Virgin, Runaway Wife, The Good Sister, and Witches’ Gets, which featured in Cymera and Audacious Women Festivals in Edinburgh to sell out houses.
I currently live in Edinburgh in Scotland, and I am one of the founders of Aurora Writers’ Retreats, and part of the wellness hub The Space To BE.
If you like stories written from the heart, historical with contemporary timeslip, family mysteries and secrets and always always a love story set against evocative landscapes from all over the world, you might like to pick up one of my books. My aim is to tell women’s stories from the past and present and to give voice to those who are rarely heard.
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