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…
In Still Water, debut author Rebecca Pert shows an extraordinary gift for touching your heart by making you connect with all the tiny things that form our memories and help us understand both who we were and who we’ve become. She is that rare writer who is able to bring her characters wholly to life, by reminding us of the pain, the sadness and the difficulties that often come through human connections. Reviewing this book today on the cusp of my summer holidays has given me the time and space to really reflect on this read and I’m so happy to be part of this Random Things blog tour and delighted to have the opportunity to share such an original, moving and beautifully written story about grief, loss and coming home – whether that’s literally or metaphorically…
It’s a privilege to be on today’s Blog Tour of #StillWater. It’s wonderful to be curled up with a great book after a windy walk. I love being able to shout loudly about great reads through blog tours and am really grateful to Anne Cater for continually keeping my spirits and my #TBR high, through her diverse array of blog tours.
I absolutely loved this book. It’s a moving and original read that will genuinely draw you into its world and draw you right into Jane’s extraordinary emotional journey, as you join in with her on her journey back into her childhood as she tries to navigate a pathway to be able to face the harrowing losses that make up her family history.
Jane is a character that you can totally believe in. When I was reading about her arrival back in her former life in Shetland and watching her trying to navigate the challenges that come when trying to exist in the shadows of her own past. Watching Jane trying to deal with the discovery of her mother’s body was heartbreaking and it was difficult at times to remember that this was a fictional tale as I got so caught up in her story and felt like I could connect with the feeling of being so connected to the past, whilst refusing to let yourself be defined by it.
Jane’s determination to try to work through the horrors of her past and all the difficulties that unfold as a result of it coming back to confront her is one of the best things about this book. The fact that the book has a dual perspective through her mother’s diaries adds real depth to the narrative and gives us an insight into Sylvia’s life and some of the challenges that she had to endure in an absolutely heartbreaking way. There is no denying that this makes for difficult subject matter, yet it is dealt with so sensitively that you will be heartbroken reading about everything that she had to go through – this balances out Jane’s feelings about her mum’s choices as you get to see things from the opposite end of the timeline and increases your rising empathy for both of them, for very different reasons.
Since this is set in a place that I love, I absolutely connected with this read and was able to imagine myself there and turning the pages of Sylvia’s diary for myself. There were loads of moments in this book that will absolutely break your heart and it truly shows the impact of intergenerational trauma in a way that rings true and feels very authentic. The fact that we have to wait until the final pages of the novel to get to the heart of the matter makes for a compelling read and is so impressive for a debut author. I know so many of my bookish friends who would love this book and I think that I’ll be recommending it to my Wine Library book club as one of our monthly choices.
Rebecca Pert might be a debut author, but she has crafted one of my favourite reads of the year in Still Water. It presents a picture of a journey to find yourself through the prism of your past in the most challenging of circumstances and captures the Shetland Islands’ desolate beauty so perfectly as well. I would absolutely love to see this on our screens in the future. If this review hasn’t made you want to read this book immediately, then follow the blogtour to see what these other booklovers are saying – and you should definitely consider taking the leap and buying yourself a copy.
It’s one of the most poignant, moving and thought-provoking books I’ve read so far this year, and I’ll definitely be buying it as a gift for a few people as it’s one of those books that makes you want to talk about it with someone else who’s read it – and hope that they loved it just as much as you.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the blogtour. Another fantastic reading experience for 2022
Writer On The Shelf
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. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, son and dog. Still Water is her first novel.