From arctic ice to musty London attics

2010-07-14 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

The Still Point

Amy Sackville

Portobello Books

JULIA and her husband Simon live in an old family home that exudes strong memories of an ill-fated Arctic expedition by Julia’s ancestor Edward, and of Emily, the young wife that was left behind.

Interwoven with the present-day story of Julia, is that of Emily who spent the rest of her days waiting in vain for Edward to return to her at her brother-in-law’s spacious home outside London.

A day in Julia’s life unfolds as she documents the manuscripts and ­other exhibits that survived Edward’s perilous journey into the unknown, each item ­bearing the scars of the doomed journey and echoing the hopeful ­outlook that Edward had. Her ­uneasy relationship with her ­husband Simon is ­described as both their innermost thoughts are revealed.

At the same time, ­Emily and Edward’s love ­story unfolds and the aching loss that Emily feels has reverberations into Julia’s existence one hundred years later. A good twist ­prevents the story becoming predictable and helps ensure the reader’s ­attention is continually wooed for the duration of the book.

Amy Sackville gets it right. She writes in a style reminiscent of Virginia Woolf at times and the story seems to flow easily from her pen. She skillfully gets into the heads of her characters and ­expresses thoughts that are commonly felt perhaps, but not often shared. She evokes atmosphere very well and from the icy floes of the arctic to the musty attics of the London house, the reader feels authentically what it must be like to have been there.

A wonderful thought-provoking read, so I look forward to more from Sackville.

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