Although I’ve read reviews of Noelle Harrison’s book The Island Girls, I haven’t read it. So I was very glad to have the chance to read The Boatman’s Wife.
The Boatman’s Wife
There was some dark secret in this western edge of Ireland that her husband never wanted her to find out. She might never be able to lay his body to rest, but she could gain some kind of closure by finding out who the man she married was.
When Lily married her soulmate Connor, buffeted by the sea spray and wild winds of her coastal homeland in Maine, she never imagined she’d be planning his memorial just three years later. Connor has been lost at sea in the bleak stormy Atlantic, leaving Lily heartbroken.
But as she prepares to say goodbye to Connor for the last time, she is shocked to discover a message to him that he never told her about:
Does your wife know who you really are, Connor Fitzgerald? Don’t ever think you can come home. Because if you do, I swear I’ll kill you.
Unable to bear living in the home she and Connor shared, Lily decides to find out her husband’s secret. She flies to Connor’s home town of Mullaghmore on the west coast of Ireland, a harbour town hugged by golden beaches and emerald-green fields. But when doors are slammed in her face, she begins to realise that she knows nothing about her husband’s past.
Connor’s grandmother, a hermit living on the cliffs of the wild Atlantic, must know the truth about her grandson. But when Lily tries to find her, threatening notes are pushed through her door warning her not to stay. Will Lily leave the darkness of the past where it belongs? Or will she risk everything to find out the truth about the man she married…
A completely heart-breaking story about the lies we tell to protect the ones we love. Fans of The Light Between Oceans, Lisa Wingate and Susanne O’Leary will lose their hearts to The Boatman’s Wife.
Buy The Boatman’s Wife
This captivating story takes us from one fishing community in Maine, USA to another on the west coast of Ireland, Mullaghomore. What binds these two places besides the sea?
Told in two different times, it is the present day story of Lily, a passionate, sea-faring woman who has been in the lobster fishing business with her father. It’s also the story of Niamh, a young girl living in Ireland in the 1990s.
Though it was Lily who was an intrepid sailor, but it was Connor, ever a reluctant sea-farer who died in a tragic accident. Lily struggles with the loss, her guilt that her husband went in her place and above all anger with her father on whose watch Connor died. She realizes that she knows hardly anything about her husband’s background and family. When she discovers a threatening email to Connor, she decides that she’s going to uncover more about him and his life in Ireland before he met her. More importantly, she wants to meet his grandmother who brought him up.
Niamh, who lives with her mother, is a reluctant participant in the covert operations that formed a part of the Irish civil war. With her mother copping out after the death of her father, the only attention she received was from her cousin Brendan, who drew her into these activities. How she meets and falls in love with a ‘boatman’ and what follows is another tragic and all too real tale of those times.
I loved the two strong female characters – Lily and Niamh (a name I learned is pronounced as nee + iv” or “neev”). What I loved about the book is that there were really no ‘villians’ in it – just people responding to difficult circumstances in different ways.
An absolutely beautiful story of loss, pain, passion, secrets and above all the redemptive power of love and family.
I will certainly be on the look out for more books from Noelle.
Meet The Author:
I’m an Irish author who’s been writing novels and plays for nearly thirty years. My first novel, Beatrice was published in August 2004 which was a bestseller in Ireland. This was followed by A Small Part Of me in 2005, I Remember in 2008, The Adulteress in 2010, The Secret Loves of Julia in 2012, The Gravity of Love in 2018, and The Island Girls in 2020.
My books have been published in over 12 different countries.
I am also published under the pen name Evie Blake and my Valentina Trilogy hit the Der Spiegel Bestseller List in 2013. In 2014 I was one of 56 Irish Writers included in the anthology and exhibition Lines of Vision Irish Writers on Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, and published by Thames & Hudson.
I have also written five plays – Northern Landscapes, Black Virgin, Runaway Wife, The Good Sister, and Witches’ Gets, which featured in Cymera and Audacious Women Festivals in Edinburgh to sell out houses.
I currently live in Edinburgh in Scotland, and I am one of the founders of Aurora Writers’ Retreats, and part of the wellness hub The Space To BE.
If you like stories written from the heart, historical with contemporary timeslip, family mysteries and secrets and always always a love story set against evocative landscapes from all over the world, you might like to pick up one of my books. My aim is to tell women’s stories from the past and present and to give voice to those who are rarely heard.
Read what other reviewers are saying about The Boatman’s Wife:
Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.