“Can you fall in love with someone before you’ve even met?
Seren MacArthur is living a life she never intended. Trying to save the Cornish seaside business her late father built – while grieving for his loss – she has put her own dreams on hold and is struggling. Until she discovers a half-finished seaglass star on her favourite beach during an early morning walk. When she completes the star, she sets into motion a chain of events that will steal her heart and challenge everything she believes.
Jack Dixon is trying to secure a better life for daughter Nessie and himself. Left a widower and homeless when his wife died, he’s just about keeping their heads above water. Finding seaglass stars completed on Gwithian beach is a bright spark that slowly rekindles his hope.
Seren and Jack are searching for their missing pieces. But when they meet in real life, it’s on the opposing sides of a battle. Jack is managing the redevelopment of a local landmark, and Seren is leading the community campaign to save it.
Both have reason to fight – Seren for the cause her father believed in, Jack for his livelihood. But only one can win. With so much at stake, will they ever find what they are really looking for?”
Today I’m doing my little book blogger happy dance because it is FINALLY publication day for Miranda Dickinson’s new book Somewhere Beyond The Sea, which I have been waiting for with great impatience FOREVER! Well, not forever, but certainly since last October when I got a taster of the book in Miranda’s Christmas novella Christmas in St. Ives. So, happy Publication Day at last, lovely Miranda, I hope you have had a fabulous sparkly day. (If anyone wants to know what my happy dance looks like, it goes a bit like this):
The book focuses on the character of Seren, a girl struggling with the grief of recently losing her father whilst trying to keep his ailing business afloat and saving a local landmark in his memory. We meet her early one morning as she is trawling her favourite beach in Cornwall for seaglass to make her jewellery. (No, I had no idea what seaglass was either until I read Miranda’s book). She finds a half-finished star on the beach, made out of seaglass, and decides to finish it off.
The star had been made by local builder Jack, struggling after the death of his wife and with financial difficulties, and his young daughter, Nessie. When they find the star completed, their delight leads them to start a magical game of leaving half-finished stars on the beach for their mystery friend to complete.
Nessie believes a magical being is completing the stars for her. Seren and Jack too find magic in the innocent and beautiful exchange of stars that has no purpose other than to bring joy to them all, and a little respite each day from their cares. I found magic too, between the pages of this book.
This book is so beautiful, and peppered with enchantment from the first page to the last. From the beginning, the concept behind the book of the simple joy of unknown strangers doing a simple thing for no reason other than to bring another person joy, made my heart sing but at the same time Miranda’s portrayal of Seren’s grief was so real that I could feel it underlying everything. I was right there with her through every page, feeling everything she was feeling and silently hoping that everything would come good for her in the end. The writing is so good, you can’t help but get involved.
Jack is a man torn between so many emotions that he can’t even identify half the time and this makes him a flawed and interesting and ultimately worthy potential love interest for Seren. This is no cardboard cut out romantic hero, this man has baggage and flaws and he makes mistakes. In other words, he feels like a real person, which I loved. Miranda focuses more on the personalities and emotions of her characters, rather than making them muscle-bound, lantern-jawed heroes and shapely, winsome heroines who roll out of bed looking perfect. Like I said, these are real people. (I enjoyed the part where she is describing Jack’s stiffness after a day or hard labour!)
There are a host of other great characters in this book; Jack’s daughter, Nessie and Seren’s friend, Aggie being two of my favourites, but the other focal point of interest is St. Ives itself. This is obviously a place the author loves, as she describes it so vividly and with such passion that you can see it quite clearly and, if you are anything like me, yearn to visit immediately. However, despite the picturesque setting, this novel doesn’t shy away from tough topics, including grief, the difficulty of being a single parent, and the financial hardships that businesses in seasonal communities can face. In other words, this is a book set in Cornwall but it sets itself apart from some by having a real depth to both the characters and the story.
I loved this book, I couldn’t put it down. It really touched me with joy and heartbreak and magic and concern and tension, but ultimately, my abiding feeling was optimism. It is a book that is worth the investment of time reading it, and it is one I will be popping on my shelf to return to when I need a book filled with emotion and hope.
Somewhere Beyond The Sea is out today and you can buy a copy here.
My thanks to Pan Macmillan for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
About the Author
Miranda Dickinson has always had a head full of stories. From an early age she dreamed of writing a book that would make the heady heights of Kingswinford Library and today she is a bestselling author. She began to write in earnest when a friend gave her The World’s Slowest PC, and has subsequently written the bestselling novels Fairytale of New York, Welcome to My World, It Started With a Kiss, When I Fall in Love, Take A Look At Me Now, I’ll Take New York and A Parcel for Anna Browne. Miranda lives with her husband Bob and daughter Flo in Dudley.
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