“A young woman walks alone through a barren landscape in a time before history, a time of cataclysmic natural change. She is cold, hungry and with child but not without hope or resources. A skilful hunter, she draws on her intuitive understanding of how to stay alive… and knows that she must survive.
In present-day London, geneticist Dr Eloise Kluft wrestles with an ancient conundrum as she unravels the secrets of a momentous archaeological find. She is working at the forefront of contemporary science but is caught in the lonely time-lock of her own emotional past.
Bone Lines is the story of two women, separated by millennia yet bound by the web of life. A tale of love and survival – of courage and the quest for wisdom – it explores the nature of our species and asks what lies at the heart of being human.
Although partly set during a crucial era of human history 74,000 years ago, Bones Lines is very much a book for our times. Dealing with themes from genetics, climate change and migration to the yearning for meaning and the clash between faith and reason, it also paints an intimate portrait of who we are as a species. The book tackles some of the big questions but requires no special knowledge of any of the subjects to enjoy.
Alternating between ancient and modern timelines, the story unfolds through the experiences of two unique characters: One is a shaman, the sole surviving adult of her tribe who is braving a hazardous journey of migration, the other a dedicated scientist living a comfortable if troubled existence in London, who is on her own mission of discovery.
The two are connected not only by a set of archaic remains but by a sense of destiny – and their desire to shape it. Both are pioneers, women of passion, grit and determination, although their day to day lives could not be more different. One lives moment by moment, drawing on every scrap of courage and ingenuity to keep herself and her infant daughter alive, while the other is absorbed by work, imagination and regret. Each is isolated and facing her own mortal dangers and heart-rending decisions, but each is inspired by the power of the life force and driven by love.”
Today I’m very excited to be on the blog tour for this very different book. I love the way that the books Unbound are producing via their unique publishing model are pushing the boundaries of what is available for us to read and this book is no exception. My thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for my place on the tour and the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. And a happy Publication Day to Stephanie Bretherton for her debut novel, I hope you have the day you always dreamed you would when your first book was published.
This book is a fascinating study of science, philosophy, religion, gender, morality, history, all bound up in the fascinating story of two women living 74,000 years apart. It is the story of Eloise, a scientist in the present day who is presented with the bones of a prehistoric woman to study, and of ‘Sarah’ that prehistoric woman, battling for survival and to protect her child in an extreme environment. As Eloise studies the skeleton and tries to learn all she can about the woman they belonged to, she is also finding out about herself, and about all of us and how we got to where we are now, what we have found and what we may have lost along the way.
This book presents the reader with so much to think about, so much to contemplate and leaves them with more questions than it does answers, which is a marvellous gift for us to be given. Eloise is a thoroughly modern woman, dealing with dilemmas facing many professional women in the modern day, especially in traditionally male-dominated sectors. She is confronted with the decisions and sacrifices she has made to get where she is, whether they have been worth it and what her contribution as a person and as a woman means for her. She is tussling with so many conflicts – personal, philosophical, moral, religious – some of these she attempts to work out by writing letters to Darwin which could seem a bit gimmicky when described so baldly but actually it worked really well within the context of the book to help set out and work through some of the issues Eloise is faced with.
Alongside Eloise’s story in the present day, we are alternately following the story of Sarah, battling with a hostile climate 74,000 years ago. For me, her story was perhaps the more compelling part of the book as we contemplate what she had to go through to survive back then and what was driving her to do the things she did. Some of them are things that have been lost to us in the modern day, buried under the external support we now have in our every day lives, that innate instinct to survive, listening to our gift as it tells us what we need to do to survive. Sarah relies heavily on something within herself telling her what to do, and it is this inbred, internal voice that compels her to leave her tribe and head away to where she believes at the very core of herself she will be safe. Is this something genetic? Is is something that has carried down through the generations by those who listened to it and as a result, survived to pass on their genes down the generations to the modern day? Is this something we could all still tap in to if we let ourselves and stop over-thinking everything? This is something I have contemplated myself previously and this book has just given me even more food for thought. Some of the things are motives that still drive us today – self-preservation, bloody mindedness, the desire to protect our offspring and, therefore, our genetic legacy, and … love. There are perhaps more parallels between Eloise and Sarah than there are differences.
This book requires focus, attention and thought to get the most from it but it is one that is really worth the effort. It is not dry and dull, despite the complex issues addressed, but a really fascinating treatise on our origins and the evolution of our species from then to now, how we got here, what our ancestors needed to do to survive, what they passed down to us, and the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of that history and what people are doing to explain it, to get to the truth of where we come from and how those origins have influenced who we have become. A very ambitious and intelligent book, meticulously researched, that the writer has pulled off beautifully and I look forward to seeing what comes next.
Bone Lines is published today and you can get your copy by following this link.
To follow the rest of the blog tour, check out the fabulous blogs listed below:
About the Author
Who do you think you are? A daunting question for the debut author… but also one to inspire a genre-fluid novel based on the writer’s fascination for what makes humanity tick. Born in Hong Kong to expats from Liverpool (and something of a nomad ever since) Stephanie is now based in London, but manages her sanity by escaping to any kind of coast
Before returning to her first love of creative writing, Stephanie spent much of her youth pursuing alternative forms of storytelling, from stage to screen and media to marketing. For the past fifteen years Stephanie has run her own communications and copywriting company specialised in design, architecture and building. In the meantime an enduring love affair with words and the world of fiction has led her down many a wormhole on the written page, even if the day job confined such adventures to the weekends.
Drawn to what connects rather than separates, Stephanie is intrigued by the spaces between absolutes and opposites, between science and spirituality, nature and culture. This lifelong curiosity has been channelled most recently into her debut novel, Bone Lines. When not bothering Siri with note-taking for her next books and short stories, Stephanie can be found pottering about with poetry, or working out what worries/amuses her most in an opinion piece or an unwise social media post. Although, if she had more sense or opportunity she would be beachcombing, sailing, meditating or making a well-disguised cameo in the screen version of one of her stories. (Wishful thinking sometimes has its rewards?)
Connect with Stephanie:
Facebook: Stephanie Bretherton