The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick



The Returning Tide


Liz Fenwick

Two sisters and one betrayal that will carry across generations . . .

In wartime Cornwall, 1943, a story between two sisters begins – the story of Adele and Amelia, and the heart-breaking betrayal that will divide them forever. Decades later, the effects of one reckless act still echo – but how long will it be until their past returns?

My Review:

Well, Liz Fenwick has done it again! I’ve read and enjoyed all of Liz’s previous books but this one really does take the biscuit for me. There is so much depth and emotion in The Returning Tide. It is just outstanding. This book will have you at times on the verge of weeping and will leave you so emotional by the end of it that a box of tissues will need to make a swift appearance!

The Returning Tide tells two interconnecting stories:


the story of Adele and Amelia, twin sisters living in Cornwall who become WRNS in WWII. Amelia, the fun-loving and flirtatious sister remains behind in Cornwall to train while Adele, the more serious of the two, moves to London. What follows is a betrayal that will have a lasting effect, the ripples of that one bad deed running far into the future…

After her great-grandfather’s passing, heart-broken Lara, an unemployed chef living in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, decides to follow a trail back to Cornwall in an attempt to discover her Grandie’s elusive past. And in doing so, discovers much than she set out to find…

I can’t really say anything else about the plot as I don’t want to give anything away. This is one mighty fine read from Liz Fenwick. I can only imagine the work and research involved in bringing this book about but, wow, was it worth it. You can feel in the writing that this is very special to the author. The Returning Tide lends an insightful look into life during WWII and gives us a deep understanding of what life was like for the remarkable people living through it – those people who’s awe-inspiring spirit and strength echos through the pages of this book. And to transfer that depth of truth  into a fictional story is a remarkable feat.

If you are coming to Cornwall on holiday this Summer, The Returning Tide is just a perfect read for a lazy day on the sand. I think I might have to re-read it on the beach myself!

I can’t write a review for one of Liz’s books without mentioning Cornwall – my home county! Seldom do you come across an author with as much skill and ability in bringing a place to life as fully as Liz Fenwick. And she does it with such ease and love, and that radiates through the writing beautifully. Bravo, Liz!

A story of love and betrayal that will bewitch you and after a few mere pages have you surrendering your heart to the tangible depths within its pages.

Compelling. Bewitching. Heart-braking.


If you would like to buy The Returning Tide, here is the link

And now … I’m so very excited to say that I have a piece to share on my blog today from the Queen of Cornwall herself about the research behind The Returning Tide and how her notebooks play a huge part in the process.

Back in February 2015 my editor and I were brain-storming ideas for my next book. The one that came to the top was a story from my mother-in-law’s experience during WW2 as a Wren telegraphist. But that involved three things I had little or no knowledge of – WW2, the Wrens and telegraphy… Although I had touched history in most of my books I’d never set a whole story line in the past. ‘I’m not a historian,’ I repeatedly told her and she replied each time ‘you can do this.’ I had to block the voice in my head saying ‘I can’t do this’ and began to build a story from one incident during the war.


But how was I going to do this? The answer of course was research…lots of it. And how was I going to organise all this research? In notebooks, of course – they are a passion of mine! I have begun a new notebook for every novel I’ve written in the past ten years. In them I jot down ideas for names, scenes…basically anything to do with the novel and sometimes the shopping list. If I’m stuck then I write out scenes by hand, I doodle and I time-line the story in them. Normally all a novel’s thoughts, plotting and research will fit into one book.


For The Returning Tide I have four. The first one contains my initial ideas and a few early scenes that never made it into the final version, but helped me to find my characters’ voices. It also contains quotes. I knew even before the title was chosen that the water and tides were going to be important. And these quotes helped me to structure the story.


The second one I used to make notes for the interviews I did. I loved this part. Three Wrens all in their nineties were so generous with their time and memories. I also interviewed a GI who had me in stitches about being stuck in a muddy field in February in England. But this was balanced with the realities of D Day. Finally, I spoke with two women who were young and living on the north side of the Helford River during the war. The antidotes from all the interviews gave the story an extra layer.


Working out the plot of the book took up one whole notebook. From the one event in my mother-in-law’s war experience I built the story, event by event using the research and how I felt the characters would act and interact.


Finally, the big notebook arrived once the first draft was done and I’d pulled all the threads together. With each rewrite, all my thoughts are jotted down as I go through. It also contains the timeline. This went through so many versions I can’t begin to tell you. I have a terrible time with timelines…heaven help me if I feature a pregnancy in a future book. No doubt in the first draft the poor woman will either deliver at four months or carry for fourteen. It was only by doing the chapter by chapter timeline that I could see how the two time periods blended – note the colour coding!


I’m already into the second draft of my next book and about half way through the notebook…I see second one in my future!


Thank you so, so much for this wonderful piece, Liz! And thanks again for my review copy!


Liz Fenwick, award-winning author, ex-pat expert, wife, mother of three, and dreamer turned doer, was born in Massachusetts, and at the age of twenty-six moved to London where she fell in love with an Englishman.  After nine international moves, she now spends her time in Cornwall with her husband and her mad cat, writing stories inspired by the beautiful Duchy.
Her novels are The Cornish House, A Cornish Affair, A Cornish Stranger, Under A Cornish Sky, A Cornish Christmas Carol (a novella) and The Returning Tide.


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