The River Between Us by Liz Fenwick

The River Between Us is a dual-timeline story split between the present day, and the years immediately before and after WW1. Boatman’s Cottage is at the heart of the story; it is a refuge for recently divorced Theo where she can take stock and decide what to do next, and where she discovers the hidden letters that introduce us to the mystery surrounding Alice and Zach.  

I enjoyed reading about both timelines, but found the length of the sections devoted to each to be a bit uneven. When we are first introduced to Alice, I thought that part of the story went on for too long – the pace was slow and I had almost forgotten what happened at the beginning. This is a minor criticism more than made up for by the quality of the writing and characterisation.

The River Tamar, on the border between Devon and Cornwall, and the houses located on either bank, makes for a very atmospheric setting; it comes through in the writing that Liz Fenwick obviously knows and loves this part of the country well. The River Between Us is the first book of hers that I have read but it won’t be the last.

I found I had to concentrate as a lot of characters are introduced, with complicated relationships between them, but I really enjoyed reading as their secrets and connections are gradually revealed. It was fascinating reading about Alice’s life before WW1, the restrictions placed on women of her class and the gulf between the classes. The title is very apt and can be interpreted on more than one level. There are parallels drawn between lives of Alice and Theo – particularly their horrendous mothers – but also many differences. The River Between Us would be a good choice for book clubs as there is a wealth of subject matter that would result in some very lively discussions.

Thanks to HQ and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.