90 minutes to read: Arial has a radical plan to fix an old tragedy and surprise her dying father–but it’ll take the help of the village blacksmith. Set on an island between England and France, Bespoke has a gentle, historical feel. (Interesting background note: this tale was first written to raise funds to buy bicycles for missionaries.)
30 minutes to read: Isolated by a mountain winter, a young boy and girl living on opposite sides of a river exchange messages via a tin can on a rope. This short story opens and closes with poetry and tells its tale through the exchange of brief notes.
After I read Whose Waves These Are,
I went looking for more fiction from Amanda Dykes and was excited to find two
free ebook novellas.
One of those is Up From the Sea, a
prequel novella for Whose Waves These Are. Reading it later let me enjoy
recognizing details significant to the novel, which features the next
generation. It also made me want to go back and read the novel again with this
deeper understanding of the past.
Savannah Mae Thorpe was born and raised in
Georgia, but after her parents’ deaths in 1925 the young woman returns to her
mother’s family in coastal Maine. She doesn’t fit in with her aunt and uncle’s
ways, nor with her cousins, although Cousin Mary used to be a good friend.
A local legend from the 1700s captures her
imagination with a wild hope to save her inheritance. Local lumberjack Alastair
Bliss agrees to help, but Savannah’s quest sounds more like a fairy tale than
Lord, you created the dark just as you created the light. Help me find life there, and not fear. [Chapter 3]
“She was imagination itself.” It felt good to speak of her [Savannah’s mother] with laughter, to feel the jagged edges of grief gentled with fond memory. [Chapter 7]
Vague light seeped in through a window whose wavy glass dripped with time. [Chapter 7]
Amanda Dykes’ tag line is “spinning
stories, gathering grace.” As well as the historical fiction Up From the Sea
and Whose Waves These Are, she’s written the novella, Bespoke: A Tiny
Christmas Tale, and one of the stories in The Message in a Bottle
Romance Collection. For more about the author and her work, visit amandadykes.com.
This is the most beautiful and
heartwarming novel I’ve read in a long time. Satisfying. Peace-inducing and
hope-whispering. Amanda Dykes writes with a gentle, lyrical quality that
invites readers to linger in this tale and savour every page.
Annie Bliss and her great-uncle Bob
(“GrandBob”) have shared a special bond since the summer she spent with him in
coastal Maine as a child. Now his need calls her back to the struggling town of
Ansel-by-the-Sea, away from the soul-drying big-city job where she’s been
The novel follows two timelines: Annie’s
in the present and Bob’s in the past, weaving together to tell a story of great
loss and greater hope. Of light in the darkness and faith in despair. Of
breaking and mending.
The town and its inhabitants add a
richness, evoking the best attributes of small fishing communities where the
locals stand together, no matter what.
See some of the evocative description:
There’s a strength in his stance, as if his feet are putting roots down into the very granite. [page 25]
The past uncoils like a fiddlehead fern, a tender ache with it. [page 81]
This part of Maine was a place like no other spot in the universe, and being back was like finding an old patch of sunlight in a long-lost home, and settling in. [page 86]
I won’t share my favourite line, because
it’s too near the end. You’ll need to find it yourself. It’ll mean more to you
I admit the present-tense narrative jarred
me at times, but even with that, Whose Waves These Are has claimed a
special place in my heart. I’m grateful for the experience.
Amanda Dykes’ tag line is “spinning
stories, gathering grace.” Whose Waves These Are is her first novel, but
readers may know her from her novella, Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale,
or from The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection. For more about the
author and her work, visit amandadykes.com.