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Secrets of the Sea    by Nicholas Shakespeare order for
Secrets of the Sea
by Nicholas Shakespeare
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2008 (2007)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

In this haunting story, we follow Alex and Merridy, each of them emotionally damaged, as they struggle to deal with their fates. Alex lost his parents in a tragic auto accident as a young boy, and Merridy lost her young brother when she was not much older. Each of them suffers mightily, and hopes to find some mitigation of their grief through love of the other. It takes many years, and a half-crazed youth saved from the sea to bring them to a halting acceptance of their personal tragedies and each other.

Secrets of the Sea is set in Tasmania, and this odd sort of place is just right for the story. The sea is never far away, and it can be both kind and treacherous, reflecting the lives of the inhabitants. It is not unusual for strange sea creatures to wash ashore. Life on the island is hard, so joy and humor are difficult to find. It is both the water and the sometimes turbulent weather that bring life, movement and change to all.

Into this somber tale creep interesting characters, Brits who have come to visit or to make their home, Aussies who have drifted over, and the small local population. One population we do not hear much about is that of the natives, but Talbot, a trained observer, and Joseph, the man with the van, more than make up for it.

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