The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson | #bookreview #beatthebacklog | @HoZ_Books @JaneJohnsonBakr

Unusually for me, I’ve a review of a book that hasn’t just been published! The Sea Gate came out in 2021 and I remember reading reviews from a few blogger friends who had loved it. I picked up a copy at Barter Books when I was there last year and finally have got around to reading it!

About the Book

One house, two women, a lifetime of secrets…

Following the death of her mother, Becky begins the sad task of sorting through her empty flat. Starting with the letters piling up on the doormat, she finds an envelope post-marked from Cornwall. In it is a letter that will change her life forever. A desperate plea from her mother’s elderly cousin, Olivia, to help save her beloved home.

Becky arrives at Chynalls to find the beautiful old house crumbling into the ground, and Olivia stuck in hospital with no hope of being discharged until her home is made habitable.

Though daunted by the enormity of the task, Becky sets to work. But as she peels back the layers of paint, plaster and grime, she uncovers secrets buried for more than seventy years. Secrets from a time when Olivia was young, the Second World War was raging, and danger and romance lurked round every corner…

The Sea Gate is a sweeping, spellbinding novel about the lives of two very different women, and the secrets that bind them together.

My Thoughts

I do enjoy books set over two time periods. In this one it was clear what the link between the two was or rather who – Olivia. In the present day, Olivia is a cantankerous old woman, grudgingly having to spend some time in hospital. Her young cousin Becky, mourning her mother, has come in response to a plea from Olivia to come and save her and her house. Becky certainly had her work cut out for her! The house was in state of disrepair and very unhygienic, not helped by foul mouthed parrot Gabriel. As she starts to clear and clean the house she begins to uncover secrets both in the past and present which explain why Olivia is the way she is.

I must admit to initially preferring the present day strand of the book more than the past. In the past, Olivia is in her teens and coping with life in wartime Cornwall. I found her quite stroppy and unlikeable at first but as I read more of her story I became gripped by what was happening and by the end, I couldn’t wait to find out the full story. Olivia is a terrific character, particularly as an eccentric old lady. She determined, speaks her mind and stands for no nonsense. We come to see though that as a young woman, her wartime experiences shaped her and that she was just as determined and brave then.

The Sea Gate is a book which will whisk you back in time and take you from Cornwall to Morocco. There’s mystery, danger, long hidden secrets, romance and plenty of twists and turns to surprise and intrigue the reader. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely read more by this author. In fact, I’ve just got myself a audiobook copy of her most recent novel, The White Hare. which sounds just as intriguing.

About the Author

Jane Johnson is a British novelist and publisher. Her novels include The Sea GateCourt of LionsThe Tenth Gift and The Salt Road. She is the UK editor for George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb and Dean Koontz and was for many years publisher of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Married to a Berber chef she met while researching The Tenth Gift, she lives in Cornwall and Morocco.

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