Our first novel at FOTW, but acclaimed writer Liam Bell's third has been making its way around Waterstones Glasgow and The Book Nook Stirling, today reaching Aberdeen, Bell signing copies as he goes!
This week The Herald has reviewed this historical thriller and I'm delighted that Bell's skilful story-weaving has been recognised. Before we share a snippet at the review, let's look at the blurb!
Number of pages: 230
"requite (verb): to return love and affection or, on the other side of the coin, to retaliate for injuries inflicted.”
MALTA 1941. Eleven-year-old Joe Zarb's life is about to change. The war has created a rubble-strewn, dogfight-watching, soldier-saluting adventure, until a telegram arrives with news of his papa, Victor, that will shatter everything.
Twenty years later, with Malta seeking independence from the British Empire, a nurse and a former RAF pilot travel to the island. Beth is looking for Joe, the son of her wartime husband, Victor. Her companion, Stuart, is seeking revenge for the horrific burns he suffered in the war. When they find Joe and a man purporting to be his papa, a chain of events is set in motion that sheds new light on what happened two decades before...
"Born in Orkney, raised in Glasgow and now teaching at the University of Stirling, Liam Bell’s restrained prose and muted moods convey beautifully the melancholia that pervades the story from the outset. Young Joe’s feeling of abandonment. The isolation Stuart has experienced as a result of his brush with death and subsequent disfigurement, and the years that have been stoically wasted since. Beth’s fragility, her inability to move on until she has made contact with her stepson and the faint hope that her husband might somehow, after all these years, still be alive.
Man at Sea is partly a study of treachery, forgiveness and the thirst for revenge, but its principal concern is the consequences of clinging on to memories while life passes by. And while some are clinging to them too tightly, others are using them as a shield, a mirror or a means of misdirection.
A lean, direct novel weaving a delicate blend of starkness and sensuality, its downbeat tone has, by the end, resolved into a quiet optimism." - ALASTAIR MABBOTT
Where can you grab a copy?
Scotland: from Far from the Madding Crowd and The Book Nook, Stirling