Silver Bay (by Jojo Moyes)

I do like it when I discover a new author whose work I enjoy. Even better when I find that her books are all different, yet very appealing. This is my impression, so far, of Jojo Moyes, an English writer who has several published titles. I am slowly collecting them.

'Silver Bay' is mostly set in Australia. It features Liza and her daughter Hannah who live with Liza’s Aunt Kathleen, at a small beach hotel. It’s popular with tourists - in a low-key kind of way - for observing whales and dolphins, although there’s a worrying tendency to attract noisy boats that scare away the marine life.

There’s some mystery about Liza’s past; she suffered immense heartbreak shortly before arriving at Kathleen’s, and we soon discover what that was about, although without details at first. But it doesn’t quite explain why Liza is so very protective about Hannah, not even allowing her to go out on the boats - although Hannah regularly does.

Then a smartly suited man from England arrives. Mike is uncomfortable at first, feeling out of place. He quickly makes friends with Hannah, and is quite attracted to Liza, but attracts some bad feeling, particularly when the locals discover just why he’s there...

‘Silver Bay’ is written from several different perspectives, a technique that works well, giving a bit of background to each of the main characters, letting us see inside their heads, and understanding something of their motivation. The characterisation is good; I found myself becoming quite fond of Hannah, and also Kathleen, although it was harder to be sympathetic with Liza despite the trauma she suffered in the past.

However, it took me quite some time to get into this book. Perhaps it’s that my ecological tendencies are mostly theoretical; while I don’t wish to see harm done to any creatures, I don’t actually have any interest at all in marine life boats, and a lot of the early part of the story was woven around these themes. Other parts of the story involved business ventures and attempts to manipulate investors... and I found those even less interesting.

And yet, slowly, I found myself drawn into the lives of this small community. As the businessman Mike found that he was starting to be accepted, so I found myself caring more about these people and their everyday lives. By the time I was about half way through, I was totally hooked. When there’s a major crisis scene, I was gripped, almost unable to put the book down. When we finally learn the details of Liza’s past, I had tears in my eyes. Even more so later on...

Jojo Moyes has a great writing style that drew me in, kept me reading, and made me believe in her story, even at the end when - if I’m entirely honest - reality felt a little suspended, leading to a most satisfactory conclusion. Things came together just a bit too tidily for reality, but by then I didn’t care. I like a happy ending, even if it doesn’t reflect typical real life.

All in all, I liked this very much... and immediately put a couple more of this author’s books on my wishlist.

Highly recommended.

First published in 2007, 'Silver Bay' is available in both paperback and Kindle form in both the UK and US.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 6th June 2013

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