About the Book
1821: After the landlord of Lugdale Estate in Kerry is assassinated, young Art O’Neill’s innocent father is hanged and Art is deported to the cane fields of Jamaica as an indentured servant. On Mangrove Plantation he gradually acclimatises to the exotic country and unfamiliar customs of the African slaves, and achieves a kind of contentment. Then the new heirs to the plantation arrive.
His new owner is Colonel Stratford-Rice from Lugdale Estate, the man who hanged his father. Art must overcome his hatred to survive the harsh life of a slave and live to see the eventual emancipation which liberates his coloured children. Eventually he is promised seven gold coins when he finishes his service, but he doubts his master will part with the coins.
One hundred years later in Ireland, a skeleton is discovered beneath a fallen tree on the grounds of Lugdale Estate. By its side is a gold coin minted in 1870. Yseult, the owner of the estate, watches as events unfold, fearful of the long-buried truths that may emerge about her family’s past and its links to the slave trade. As the body gives up its secrets, Yseult realises she too can no longer hide.
Format: ebook, paperback (372 pages) Publisher: Poolbeg Press
Publication date: 7th September 2017 Genre: Historical Fiction
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In the first and, for me, the most powerful part of the book Art O’Neill sets out to record, for the benefit of his children, the story of his life from the time he was transported to Jamaica from Ireland and forced to work as an indentured servant on the Mangrove Plantation. The author vividly depicts the cruelties and privations of the voyage and Art’s sense of unfamiliarity with his new environment. The book also exposes the harsh conditions and savage treatment meted out to slaves on the plantation.
Over the next decades Art experiences love, marriage and the birth of children but also the loss of loved ones. He is witness to turbulent events on the island, including slave rebellions and outbreaks of disease. Rising to the position of overseer, he faces moral dilemmas over the treatment of slaves under his control. And, underlying it all, is the ever present hatred he bears towards the Stratford-Rice family that at times seems to provide the only meaning in his life.
In the second part of the book, the reader sees events from the point of view of Yseult and, briefly, from the point of view of her daughter, Rachel. Yseult and Rachel have a rather strained relationship with Yseult dismissive of Rachel’s ideas for developing the Lugdale Estate. I’ll confess I found Yseult an unsympathetic character and difficult to warm to. Interspersed with events following the discovery of the skeleton are Yseult’s memories of her childhood including her friendship with Mary O’Neill whose family owned land adjoining Lugdale.
Eventually the unfinished stories of the characters from the first part of the book are brought to completion, revealing a tale of secrets, revenge and feuds continuing down through the generations.
You can read my earlier interview with Olive here in which she talks about the inspiration for The Tide Between Us, the historical background to the events in the book and her view that we must examine the past in order to fully understand the present.
I’d like to thank Olive for providing me with a review copy of The Tide Between Us and apologize for the length of time it’s taken to reach the top of my review pile.
In three words: Dramatic, authentic, powerful
Try something similar: Sugar Money by Jane Harris (read my review here)
About the Author
Olive Collins grew up in Thurles, Tipperary, and now lives in Kildare.
For the last fifteen years, she has worked in advertising in print media and radio. She has always loved the diversity of books and people. She has travelled extensively and still enjoys exploring other cultures and countries.
Her inspiration is the ordinary everyday people who feed her little snippets of their lives. It’s the unsaid and gaps in conversation that she finds most valuable.
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