By: Lucy Clarke
Publisher: Touchstone – A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Publication Date: April 2014
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: April 2014
In her latest novel, A Single Breath, Lucy Clarke entices her reader with the sublime question: “How well do you know the one you’ve betrothed your love and unrequited trust to?”
Eva and Jackson have been married for barely eight months. On a weekend visit to her mother’s place at the shore in Dorset, England, Jackson rises early the morning after they arrive. He ventures down to the stormy coastline and navigates the jetties that finger their way out into the angry and churning sea. He has the blood of a fisherman that runs through his veins and knows that is where his prize catch awaits. Unfortunately gale force winds and the unfamiliar ground beneath his feet cause Jackson to lose his footing. The waves waste no time as they seize the moment and sweep him out to sea. When Eva learns of the tragic mishap, she refuses to give up hope. Search parties are organized and are relentless as the day continues from dawn to high noon and into the twilight of dusk. When the Coast Guard delivers the news to Eva that they are calling the search, Eva is left with a sad reality: her husband is dead.
Eva isn’t the only person left behind in his wake. On the other side of the world in Tasmania, Australia, Jackson’s father Dirk and his brother Saul soon learn of his passing. It’s more than difficult for Dirk to accept. No parent ever wants to bury a child. Saul, however, is more than disturbed; especially since he and his brother hadn’t spoken to each other in nearly four years.
The one thread Eva has to hold onto (after acknowledging the reality of her husband’s death), is her job. Eva is a midwife and loves her job. Sadly, what was once such a sense of completion and joy has become rote. Unable to focus on anything, Eva takes a leave of absence and decides to seek out Jackson’s estranged family halfway around the world. Besides, they were supposed to visit Tasmania in the fall—a trip that would give her the opportunity to finally meet his family. What Eva wasn’t prepared for were the answers she sought to the questions she had once asked.
Lucy Clarke does a fine job of planting seeds that enhance plot and encourage the reader to nibble as he or she ventures further into the story. She demonstrates a comfortable flow with her narrative writing style and, as a result, the story is easy to read. While I've never been “Down Under,” Ms. Clarke describes the countryside with such familiarity, it was as though I had been there before. However, there are points in the story that tend to be drawn out more than necessary. Sometimes less is best in describing feelings, sensations, situations, etc. which, in my opinion, is a sure fire way to keep the reader fully engaged and less apt to wander or skip a page or two. Overall, A Single Breath is certainly a story that will capture the readers’ interest.
Quill says: A Single Breath consistently poses the question throughout: “How well do you know the person you love”?