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Big Low Tide

Candy Neubert
ISBN-13: 
9781854115836
Format: 
Paperback
Publication Date: 
Monday, June 18, 2012
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‘Her writing is atmospheric and descriptive...’ – cypruswell.org

‘I loved Neubert's descriptions of the island, zooming over it with a bird's eye view and her image of it as an amoeba-like entity, drawing its sustenance in through the port and washing away its waste with the tide’ – ourbookreviewsonline.blogspot

A small island stands in the Channel, barely changed by the tides. On its surface, the islanders go about their daily lives aware that it’s not possible to make a move undetected here, where everyone knows everybody else; where the neighbours will always notice, and judge. They know this, but they may have forgotten that it’s always possible to leave. 

Big Low Tide follows Brenda, a feisty barmaid at the local pub on Port Victoria island, as her marriage breaks down and she suddenly finds herself raising her two young boys alone. After discovering he can’t take the children with him, her estranged husband, Peter, has left alone for Ireland in search of better prospects and a trip at sea. Worn down by the constant struggle and pregnant with a third child whose father is nowhere to be seen, Brenda’s spark begins to dwindle and her children become more and more unruly – and less of a priority. No longer able to cope, she moves in with her sister in law, Elsa, who without warning walks out one day leaving the run of the house to Brenda. Seeing Brenda's slow decline, a friend persuades Peter to return and soon after on a wild and windy night, her youngest son disappears. As they search for the boy little do they know how close they are to finding something dark and terrible. This is a powerful story of reconciliation, hope and the wreckage of relationships broken, its dark undercurrents proving all is rarely as it first may seem.

Candy Neubert is the author of the poetry collection, Island , and the novel Foreign Bodies.

Praise for Foreign Bodies:

“Neubert is sympathetic and non-judgmental throughout, with an understanding of her characters and their humanity that shines through. This is a novel that draws you in and keeps you there.”  – Western Mail

“Thoughtful and understated, Neubert's first novel tackles the chasm between the first and third worlds well, examining the post-colonial landscape sensitively and with a deft hand.” – Big Issue
 

REVIEWS

Review by Maryom, Our Book Reviews Online

Monday, July 30, 2012

On the small Channel island of Port Victoria everyone knows their neighbours' secrets. it's barely possible to walk down the street or argue behind closed doors without someone noticing.

In this atmosphere live Peter, his estranged wife Brenda and their two children. Unable and unwilling to cope with the demands of motherhood, Brenda has abandoned the old family farmhouse and now lives in a flat in town, working as a barmaid. She's also found herself a new boyfriend - even if he doesn't seem to share her feelings.

My review copy of Big Low Tide arrived with a press release quoting the synopsis which appears on Amazon - "In Candy Neubert's novel 'Big Low Tide' set on a small island in the Channel, Brenda, a feisty barmaid at the local pub suddenly finds herself raising her two young boys alone as her estranged husband, Peter, realizing he cant take the children with him leaves for Ireland in search of better prospects and a trip at sea. Worn down by the constant struggle and pregnant with a third child whose father is nowhere to be seen, Brenda's spark begins to dwindle and her children become more and more unruly. No longer able to cope she moves in with her sister in law, Elsa, who without warning walks out one day leaving the run of the house to Brenda. Seeing Brenda's slow decline, a friend persuades Peter to return and soon after on a wild and windy night, her youngest son disappears. As they search for the boy little do they know how close they are to finding something dark and terrible."

Having read this, I had expectations of what the plot would be, how it would evolve and, even to a certain extent, conclude. Therefore, I was considerably wrong-footed as half the book passes before these events unfold. I think this spoiled  my appreciation of the story as a whole - it is much more one of father/son bonding, of a woman's renunciation of her children and obsession with a new boyfriend and unbreakable ties to the island.

I loved Neubert's descriptions of the island, zooming over it with a bird's eye view and her image of it as an amoeba-like entity, drawing its sustenance in through the port and washing away its waste with the tide.
Big Low Tide is a book I want to come back to at some future point as I think it will improve with further acquaintance. 

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A very good read!

This book is set on a small island following a family as they struggle with infidelity, depression and two troubled boys, all whilst curtains are twitching and they are the talk of the island. Unable to cope with looking after his boys alone, Peter leaves in hopes of making a better life for them, leaving the boys with Brenda, who struggles to cope. A great story, which I read very quickly, my only complaint would be the book was not long enough.

30/01/2013 - 12:07
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I enjoyed this book immensely and read it in almost one sitting. The characterisation is extremely astute as well as the depiction of the environment, this sea-side town, which you feel pulled along by as well as cushioned by.

The prose is both economical and poetic - and at no point do you feel duped or lied too.

I also enjoyed Neubert's first book, 'Foreign Bodies' hugely - and i hope there more to come please!

A wonderful read by a very accomplished writer - you are in safe hands.

30/01/2013 - 12:05
Anonymous's picture

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I’m a slow reader and when I first began reading this book, I didn’t get very far. When I found time to pick it up again, I became so involved with the central characters that I went back to the beginning again to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.
Once hooked, I was so caught up with these people I couldn’t put it down and I read the book right through to the end with hardly a break. The setting is a claustrophobic small-island community and the story has an unusual structure, but this really worked for me. I like the reversal of traditional roles – here it’s the wife who abandons her home and for an ill-fated love-affair, while her husband is left behind to be the faithful and hard-working single parent, until jealousy gets the better of him.
Candy Neubert is an economical writer – there’s no time-wasting waffle – every word is there for good reason. My only frustration was that certain sections of the protagonists’ lives have been missed out – and I want to know everything! In this respect, and in the vivid scene setting and the way the writing moves from one location to another, it seems to me more like a film than a novel.
I felt the author was inviting me to join her in spying on these people’s lives – lives that lingered with me long after I’d finished reading.

I’ve also read and enjoyed Foreign Bodies by the same author, as well her poetry book “Island”, which certainly ‘hits the spot’ for me in the same sort of way.

30/01/2013 - 12:05
Anonymous's picture

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An excellent book! Moments of dark humour, lots of intrigue, and an unexpected ending, all captured with great clarity and warmth. More please.

30/01/2013 - 12:04

Comments

Anonymous's picture

Reader review

0
No votes yet

An excellent book! Moments of dark humour, lots of intrigue, and an unexpected ending, all captured with great clarity and warmth. More please.

30/01/2013 - 12:04
Anonymous's picture

Reader review

0
No votes yet

I enjoyed this book immensely and read it in almost one sitting. The characterisation is extremely astute as well as the depiction of the environment, this sea-side town, which you feel pulled along by as well as cushioned by.

The prose is both economical and poetic - and at no point do you feel duped or lied too.

I also enjoyed Neubert's first book, 'Foreign Bodies' hugely - and i hope there more to come please!

A wonderful read by a very accomplished writer - you are in safe hands.

30/01/2013 - 12:05
Anonymous's picture

Reader review

0
No votes yet

I’m a slow reader and when I first began reading this book, I didn’t get very far. When I found time to pick it up again, I became so involved with the central characters that I went back to the beginning again to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.
Once hooked, I was so caught up with these people I couldn’t put it down and I read the book right through to the end with hardly a break. The setting is a claustrophobic small-island community and the story has an unusual structure, but this really worked for me. I like the reversal of traditional roles – here it’s the wife who abandons her home and for an ill-fated love-affair, while her husband is left behind to be the faithful and hard-working single parent, until jealousy gets the better of him.
Candy Neubert is an economical writer – there’s no time-wasting waffle – every word is there for good reason. My only frustration was that certain sections of the protagonists’ lives have been missed out – and I want to know everything! In this respect, and in the vivid scene setting and the way the writing moves from one location to another, it seems to me more like a film than a novel.
I felt the author was inviting me to join her in spying on these people’s lives – lives that lingered with me long after I’d finished reading.

I’ve also read and enjoyed Foreign Bodies by the same author, as well her poetry book “Island”, which certainly ‘hits the spot’ for me in the same sort of way.

30/01/2013 - 12:05
Anonymous's picture

Reader review

0
No votes yet

A very good read!

This book is set on a small island following a family as they struggle with infidelity, depression and two troubled boys, all whilst curtains are twitching and they are the talk of the island. Unable to cope with looking after his boys alone, Peter leaves in hopes of making a better life for them, leaving the boys with Brenda, who struggles to cope. A great story, which I read very quickly, my only complaint would be the book was not long enough.

30/01/2013 - 12:07
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